Behavioral scientists have explained why some people do not play by the rules during the pandemic. According to experts, culture plays a huge role in how people respond to rules.

Nations around the world have ordered lockdowns and implemented social distancing measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, paving the way for new social norms and reshaping the lives of people in general. But while such rules are meant to keep people in the safe zone, some still choose not to abide by them.

Jay Van Bavel, an associate professor of psychology at New York University, said it all boils down to individualism. “Some countries tend to be higher on individualism, which is about expressing your sense of identity and who you are as an individual,” he said, adding that people who grew up in individualist societies are more likely to reject rules imposed on them.

“If you say, for example, that wearing a mask will help protect others, people in individualistic cultures just care less” explained policy expert Michael Sanders.

Van Bavel said trust also plays a major role in how people respond to calls from their leaders. He explained that people in societies with more political division are more likely to reject rules because they do not trust advice from their leaders.

Van Bavel also explained that people find it hard to follow social distancing measures because they are social animals by nature. “Our bodies and brains are designed for connection and the pandemic in many ways goes against our instincts to connect,” he explained.

He said this is one of the reasons why most local outbreaks usually begin in social places such as bars, night clubs, and churches. “People have a hard time resisting that tendency for social and group connection,” he said.

While people who do not play by the rules belong to the minority, experts said even a few people not following the rules is dangerous. “The problem is that, in a massive collective problem like the one we’re facing now, if everybody breaks the rules a little bit, then it’s not dissimilar to lots of people not following the rules at all,” said Sanders.

COVID-19 positive Test result shows a patient is COVID-19 positive. Pixabay