When it comes to COVID-19, we’re all in it together. That statement, while obvious, is not always how people react. Why is that, and what does that mean to everyone else? How would understanding this improve our response to the pandemic?
Near what we now know to be the lengthy saga of the COVID-19 pandemic, four psychologists collaborating remotely put together the edited volume Together Apart: The Psychology of COVID-19 in record time for SAGE Publishing (which released the entire book for free download on Social Science Space in May).
Those authors –Jolanda Jetten, professor of social psychology and Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland; Stephen Reicher, Wardlaw Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews; S. Alexander Haslam, professor of psychology and Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland; and Tegan Cruwys, senior research fellow at the Australian National University – were working at warp speed for a serious academic endeavor.
Now, in the dawn of 2021, they are revisiting their work and that of their contributors in a series of seven videos in which they talk with the academics who wrote edited volume’s various chapters. In this second video, Jetten is joined by Jack Dovidio, professor of psychology and public health at Yale University, whose chapter on a common identity closes the book.
Here, Dovidio answers questions about how the us-versus-them dynamic affects the response to COVID-19, why having a common identity matters in fighting the spread of the disease, and why it’s proving so hard to develop that sense of common identity.
“When you think about somebody as an in-group member, your trust them more, have more empathy, you care about them …,” Dovidio explains. “Many of the things we do to protect against the spread of COVID has an altruistic aspect to it. I wear a mask, in part to protect me, but to protect other people. I’m going to be more likely to engage in these communal behaviors that will benefit other people if I think of them as members of my own group.”
Further videos in the series will appear on Wednesdays for the next five weeks.
The series so far:
Social influence during COVID-19 | Alex Haslam, Nik Steffens, Matthew Hornsey and Frank Mols