Panic buying is contagious according to psychologist

Posted at 10:03 AM, Mar 25, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Panic buying: we've seen it, and maybe even participated even just a little bit, but is that behavior rational or irrational?

According to psychologist Stacey Miller at Complete Behavioral Health, this behavior is not totally irrational. Instead of comparing rational vs irrational, she said we need to look at rational vs emotional.

The problem however is when it puts others at risk

Empty store shelves: no toilet paper, hand sanitizing liquids or disinfectant spray. Some foods are even becoming scarce. But as this pandemic is expected to last for months, not just a weekend or a week or two, housing enough food and supplies for for an entire family for even a month would take an extremely large amount of space.

"Panic buying and hoarding can be explained by fear of scarcity," said psychologist Stacy Miller. "It leads to actual scarcity so things like fear, urgency and actual scarcity increases anxiety, and when our anxiety goes up it increases panic buying."

Miller says people are operating on emotion, looking to reduce their anxiety. They want to minimize risk, and maintain control over their life; Miller believes it is not their intention to purposely deprive others.

Now, unfortunately, these actions are contagious. Panic buying makes others jump into the same action, and we are left with crisis hoarding.