Fears and reassurance
If we can start to understand the emotional sub-stratum of our decision-making processes by studying our underlying reactions to specific stimuli, we can then determine the basic forces that drive our behaviourand, ultimately, our needs. Behind our external persona of highly-evolved, highly-connected, highly-rational beings, we are actually still driven by our connection to the animal world.
Empathy, the need for protection, the need for interaction and relationships and above all fear: the fear of change, of the unknown, of illness and death, of loneliness, rejection and exclusion by our fellow men. These are the key drivers of our behaviour, that encourage us to maintain a balance (or, more precisely, to strive to restore a precarious balance) or to dedicate time to look inwards to find a new balance in times of severe crisis.
The fact that we are living in a period of global crisis cannot be denied: the Covid-19 pandemic is not only on the scale of other international financial crises in financial terms but it has swept away our certainties and routines in a manner comparable only with global conflicts. Our response, as we have seen, is to panic: we all remember the supermarket shelves emptied of basic necessities such as long-life food, toilet paper and yeast for bread, while goods related to other areas of our life languished on both physical and virtual store shelves.
This behaviour was in no way rational or necessary, there was no reason to believe that supplies would become scarce or that we needed to stock up for the long term. Just as the tentative attempts by companies to stimulate consumption by lowering prices have not had any effect. Why? Because that was not what people needed.