Four Reasons Our Brains Suck At Pandemics

Four Reasons Our Brains Suck At Pandemics

You can read Bill & Melinda Gates’ 2021 letter at
Certain cognitive biases cause humans to make unsafe decisions in a pandemic, making a terrible disease even worse.

To learn more about this topic, start your googling with these keywords:
Pandemic: A disease outbreak that spreads across the world.
Exponential Growth: Growth that occurs when a value increases in proportion to its current value.
Exponential Growth Prediction Bias: An error in prediction that occurs when people underestimate how quickly numbers rise in an exponential system.
Optimism Bias: An error that occurs when people underestimate their personal likelihood of experiencing a negative event.
Hyperbolic Time Discounting Bias: An error that occurs when people choose smaller rewards in the present over larger awards in the future.
Reactance Psychology: An unpleasant motivational state that occurs when a freedom is threatened with elimination.
Individualism: The principle of being independent and self-reliant.
Collectivism: The principle of giving a group priority over each individual in it.
Disinformation: Deliberately false information designed to deceive.

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Ritwik Banerjee, Joydeep Bhattacharya, Priyama Majumdar (2021). Exponential-growth prediction bias and compliance with safety measures related to COVID-19. Social Science & Medicine, 268. Retrieved from:

IHME COVID-19 Forecasting Team., Reiner, R.C., Barber, R.M. et al. (2020). Modeling COVID-19 scenarios for the United States. Nat Med 27, 94–105. Retrieved from:

Steindl, C., Jonas, E., Sittenthaler, S., Traut-Mattausch, E., & Greenberg, J. (2015). Understanding Psychological Reactance: New Developments and Findings. Zeitschrift fur Psychologie, 223(4), 205–214. Retrieved from:

Joris Lammers, Jan Crusius, and Anne Gast. (2020). Correcting misperceptions of exponential coronavirus growth increases support for social distancing.PNAS. 117:8. Retrieved from:

Alan, M., Marco, M. (2020). How Your Brain Tricks You Into Taking Risks During the Pandemic. ProPublica. Retrieved from:

Bottemanne Hugo, Morlaàs Orphée, Fossati Philippe, Schmidt Liane. (2020). Does the Coronavirus Epidemic Take Advantage of Human Optimism Bias? Frontiers in Psychology. 11. Retrieved from:

Soofi, M., Najafi, F. & Karami-Matin, B. (2020). Using Insights from Behavioral Economics to Mitigate the Spread of COVID-19. Appl Health Econ Health Policy 18, 345–350. Retrieved from:

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