• Alysa Salzberg

What’s at the root of America’s divided reaction to coronavirus-related restrictions?

In the US, the coronavirus epidemic has created an unexpected divide. Some people are afraid to leave their homes, no matter what safety measures are in effect or what protective gear they’re wearing. Others refuse to do things like wear face masks or practice social distancing.


Americans have come to see these choices as political, but what’s really behind them are two driving emotions: fear and anger.


In a recent interview, behavioral scientist Jennifer Lerner explains that both fear and anger affect our perception of risk. While continuous fear can cause us to have trouble determining high risks from low ones, anger can make us rebel against the rules or refuse to accept certain information.


Lerner hopes that by studying the effects of fear and anger during the current pandemic, she and her colleagues will be able to come up with strategies to help people separate their emotions from their decision-making in times of crisis.


If you recognize yourself in one of these categories (or are maybe even feeling both), you can find some tips for managing fear and anxiety here, and advice for dealing with anger here.

Read on to learn about how fear and anger affect our behavior, and what outside influences can fuel them.


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