It went so well otherwise …
This morning I heard the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s news podcast ”Restart”. The episode was about the recent flare-up of coronavirus this past week in Denmark. The episode starts with the interviewer asking people on Islandsbrygge, how much they think about corona when they are out in public?
- “I admit, not so much.”
- “I do not think about corona.”
- “I no longer fear coronavirus.”
- “I do not listen to news about it because it does not affect me or anyone I do know.”
The other day on the way into the department store, Magasin, 7 people walked in the doors in front of me. Not a single person used the alcohol dispensers set up at the entrance. I am pretty sure that if I had observed this a month ago, that I would have seen them all sanitizing their hands.
As Professor Lone Simonsen says in the podcast: ”It is a known phenomenon that when we fear something out of nowhere that it surprises us, overtime we relax. We have to continuously to remind each other of it.
I’m also not surprised to see this change in behavior, because that’s exactly what happens in the healthcare sector when hygiene campaigns are launched. Often posters or stickers that say “Clean hands save lives”are put in place, sparking early energy about the goals of the campaign, and then resulting in fading participation. We are reminded of the importance of good hand hygiene through a static stimuli (like, here isa sticker). Unfortunately, our brains and human behaviors are connected in such a way that we stop with a given behavior when the fear or news value disappears.
This is the same effect that we now see in our society as the fear of the corona evaporates. We fall back to the old habits and routines. It is a pattern that will repeat itself unless we change practices.
The consequence is that we will see new flare-ups of corona cases. This could lead back to serious issues with a repeat outbreak. I hope not.
I have spent the last few years working on infections and human behavior in health sector. I have learned that we can happily achieve great effects through smart solutions. Particularly dynamic nudging has proven to be an effective auxiliary tool.
Finally, please write to me if you are interested in hearing more, or visit www.saninudge.com
You can also read my latest article in Berlingske (in Danish) about behavioural design in hospitals and nursing homes: