To combat COVID-19, behavioral pitfalls must be addressed

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

By B. Rose Huber, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

During any crisis, timely, and sometimes life-altering, decisions must be made, requiring an extreme amount of sound judgment under uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different.

In a commentary piece for The Lancet, researchers from Princeton and the Sunnybrook Research Institute review eight behavioral pitfalls that challenge these judgments. Among the issues they explore are common human traits: a fear of the unknown, personal embarrassment and hindsight bias.

Eldar Shafir, the Class of 1987 Professor in Behavioral Science and Public Policy at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a professor of psychology and public affairs, co-authored the piece with Dr. Donald Redelmeier, senior scientist at the Sunnybrook Research Institute.

The co-authors suggest that awareness of these pitfalls might help to maintain the behavior changes needed to fight the pandemic. They also offer solutions.“Following the strong initial reactions to such a challenging and difficult time, awareness of judgmental pitfalls might help maintain things on the right path,” said

Read full story on the University homepage