The Trump administration has released conflicting information about the coronavirus. An expert says people rely on peers in information 'vacuums' when policymakers are not clear.
- Daniel Bennett, an assistant professor of economics at USC, told Insider that outbreaks of new diseases create a "vacuum" of available information as people rush to learn more about it.
- Therefore, individuals who are trying to make informed decisions instead tend to turn to peers for information and recommendations on how to move forward.
- Bennett noted that the onus is placed upon policymakers to "quell public fears by providing timely and accurate information."
- However, policymakers are offering no such clarity, as contradicting reports are emerging even in the Trump administration.
- "It sends the message that officials are disagreeing, or not communicating well, overall, which may make people worry if the information they are receiving is credible, but it would be if it was clear and transparent," Bennett said.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
An expert suggested people tend to turn to their peers for information and recommendations on an epidemic amid contradicting information from policymakers.Daniel Bennett, an assistant professor of economics at University of Southern California, told Insider that outbreaks of novel viruses create a "vacuum" of available information when people are looking for immediate answers.
"They still need to make a decision about whether to protect themselves or whether they should take a trip to China or whether they should go to a large gathering of people or go to the hospital to seek medical help," he continued. "And so people will look at what their peers are doing or what everyone else is doing."He described that sort of response as "herding," in which responses will "reinforce" each other, with or without scientific backing, according to a paper Bennett co-wrote that observed public response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
For example, if one person avoids going to a clinic for treatment, that could compel their peer to think that the clinic is too risky.The "herding" response could compound, and as a result, "within a short time, the public could respond to a small risk in an exaggerated way," Bennett wrote in the paper. He also noted that "policymakers can quell public fears by providing timely and accurate information." However, policymakers are offering no such clarity when it comes to coronavirus concerns, as contradicting reports are emerging even from within the Trump administration. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview with CNBC that the US has an "almost airtight" containment on the coronavirus.
Kudlow also said that, although the outbreak has been a "human tragedy," it will likely not become an "economic tragedy."
However, Kudlow's analysis on the coronavirus situation contrasts that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which warned Americans that the outbreak could get worse in the US."I think that's an example of information that isn't consistently being communicated; it suggests that you have these kind of public differences of opinion in officials," Bennett said. "It sends the message that officials are disagreeing, or not communicating well, overall, which may make people worry if the information they are receiving is credible, but it would be if it was clear and transparent."
- Whether we like it or not, Indians are already partaking in the superfood ‘trend’
- India records 16,488 new COVID-19 cases and 113 deaths in last 24 hours
- Maharashtra to conduct class 12,10 exams from 23 and 29 April
- Here is what to expect from Maruti, M&M, Hero, Bajaj Auto and other automakers in February auto sales
- Google pledges $5 million to address disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations