Effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on Social Behaviours: From a Social Dilemma Perspective
Ling, G. H. T., & Ho, C. M. C. (2020). Effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic on Social Behaviours: From a Social Dilemma Perspective. Technium Social Sciences Journal, 7(1), 312-320.
10 Pages Posted: 14 May 2020
Date Written: March 14, 2020
The health crisis of the COVID-19 outbreak has global impacts on humanity and the economy. Such pandemic effects also influence human behaviour; issues of panic buying (overbuying) and noncompliance with government orders and law among individuals are evident. However, the underlying understanding of such behaviours due to the pandemic remains unclear. Therefore, this perspective paper adopts the social dilemma theory and microeconomics concepts to analyse and explain the effects of COVID-19 on social behavioural reactions. It attempts to address the questions of what and why are the behaviours of individuals shown during the coronavirus pandemic and showcase how the theory is associated with the current social phenomena. Real scenarios based on media reporting from the sociodemographic context of Malaysia, concerning the following issues; (i) competition over daily essentials; (ii) self-honesty of individuals; and (iii) adherence to government policies and measures enforcement (governance) were discussed. A conceptual framework was developed to illustrate interrelationships between social dilemma concepts and the phenomena. In essence, due to fear, uncertainty, and greed, self-interest and opportunistic (defective/unethical) behaviours of most individuals prevailing over societal collective interest amid the pandemic have been prevalently observed in the above instances, although a cooperative choice can eventually result in a better outcome for everyone. Not only do these non-cooperative behaviours of individuals create inconveniences, dissatisfactions, and other forms of negative externalities, they also incentivise others to act selfishly, if no restrictions are imposed, which may eventually cause government intervention failures. This paper demonstrates the relevancy of the social dilemmas theory in better understanding fundamental human behavioural reactions amid the health crisis and the importance of incorporating the findings into government policymaking. These sociopsychological considerations help the government formulate holistic measures, namely stringent sanctions and monitoring enforcement, as well as incentivising cooperative and compliant behaviours of the public, which then contribute to curbing the COVID-19 pandemic more effectively.
Keywords: Effects of COVID-19, Malaysia, Pandemic, Self-interest and Opportunism, Social Behaviour, Social Dilemma
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