Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist and author of "The Psychology of Pandemics" told CNN that people are triggered to panic buy if the scale of the threat — a global pandemic — doesn't seem to match up to the simplicity of the best deterrent, like hand-washing.
Panic buying by one person also triggers panic buying, Taylor said — a theory similar to the the self-fulfilling prophecy that Michalski, of Vinda International Holdings, bemoaned.
Frank Farley, a professor at Temple University, also told CNN it was natural for people to overprepare as the coronavirus engenders "a sort of survivalist psychology."
Meanwhile, Professor Baruch Fischhoff at Carnegie Mellon University said it was down to a lack of clear direction from authorities, CNN reported.
But why specifically toilet paper? Andy Yap and Charlene Y. Chen, two professors at INSEAD Singapore think they have the answer.
In a series of studies, they noted that people are motivated to buy utilitarian, practical goods in situations where they don't feel like they have much control over outside circumstances, like the coronavirus.
"The rush for toilet paper and other necessities in the face of COVID-19 is a natural behavioural response to the loss of psychological control," said Yap.