When you are sick does your mind automatically go to the worst possible situation? Even if it is just a tiny cold does your mind make you believe other wise. Sometimes out mind tricks us in believing something is worse than it actually is due to fear and anxiety. For my blog post I read an article by David Ropeik that looked into “How our brains make the coronavirus seem scarier than it is.” I thought this was very interesting because all we are seeing in the news headlines these days is the coronavirus. He points out that numerous news headlines ask “should we be worried?” He explains that there is two contagions upon us, that is the actual disease and fear. Wondering why there are two contagions? Let me explain
First I want to explain the meme I added. This meme basically is showing that the Corona virus has reached the US and has cause fear and panic among many, so spongebob is heading out. When hearing about new diseases our memory goes through a process that creates a situation of worry and shuts out actual everyday dangers.
The most recent talked about disease were Ebola in 2014 and Zika in 2015. Anxiety almost spreads faster then the disease itself and thats what these two did. Ropeik explains that when mentioning those past diseases they come to mind so quick and faster then wed imagine. This can be an example of source memory, when hearing about this new epidemic you engage in all memories with the old epidemics, it is a feeling of familiarity. The scarier a memory is the deeper it gets encoded in our memory. Encoding is one of the three parts in the memory process, and is the initial learning of information. This leads to it coming into your relevant thoughts and this is called the availability heuristic. This is known as a shortcut that we really on to compare examples, in this case the diseases. This process of memory involves encoding, storing, and retrieval. When we learn something new we process it, store it, and then retrieve it. When bringing up other epidemics we go through this process but it just makes the fear worse. This raises questions, why do we fear new viruses over actual ones like influenza. It is the aspect of not knowing that creates more fear, we are unfamiliar. Another cognitive psychology aspect is representative bias, this is determining the likelihood of an event. Another reason is we pay attention to what people are already paying attention too.
This example with the corona virus provides information on life in general if we worry more about the new risks we forget about the old ones which can be more dangerous. Ropeik believes that our risk perception has gotten us this far but we need to look and be worried about reality rather then whats in the media.
I think these people did a great job with this article. They had much knowledge on prior disease to compare the corona virus too. They were very organized throughout and used well language to help readers understand. He backed up all his points with other cognitive psychologist and their opinions as well. I think this topic was very interesting it caught my eye because the coronavirus is so relevant today. But always raised question with me why do we fear this more than the flu, when the flu can be much more deadly. Its very interesting how the process of memory and heuristics can take over our ability to worry or not worry about something.
Ropeik, David. “Perspective | How Our Brains Make Coronavirus Seem Scarier than It Is.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 31 Jan. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/01/31/how-our-brains-make-coronavirus-seem-scarier-than-it-is/#comments-wrapper.