Asocial is the New Prosocial - Part 1



COVID-19 Anxiety

We have all experienced anxiety about the spread of COVID-19, but our self- quarantines and self-isolations are poles apart. Some of us have too much extra time on our hands to deal with “first world” discomforts like running out of Netflix shows to watch, and straight-up boredom. Others are trying to homeschool their kids, transform their kitchens into their new home offices, and desperately cling to their sporadic wages and shrinking salaries. Yet another group is fighting at the frontline, trying to save lives while risking their own. No 7 pm standing ovation can capture their heroism. Sadly, some are not with us anymore…

Rewind, please.

Here is a quick rewind for some lost interloper who might have just woken up from the Winter hibernation. A couple of weeks ago, although the carnival season was slowly fading out, turning down an invitation to a social gathering made you a party pooper, killjoy, soon-to-be-outcast. Now being asocial is the new prosocial. Why? Because the invisible enemy, the scary beast called COVID-19, wants to get us all, and although it might spare Little Red Riding Hood but less so her grandma. The current situation resembles a real-life horror sequel of this beloved children’s story, in which the beast can stay hidden and ready to jump over from clueless babies, asymptomatic teenagers, passersby, and doctors. COVID-19 can inconspicuously hitch-hike through our social network until it finds its prey, which has marked the end to the most basic human need being social. Paradoxically, being asocial is indeed the new prosocial, until further notice.

As a consequence, most of us are sheltered in our homes, trying to make sense of these unprecedented times, and seeking information to help us cope with the crisis (Faye, 2020). Beside totally disrupting our daily lives and many Spring celebrations this year, like Easter, Holi, or Nowruz (Beabout, 2020), we have and will spend separated from our friends and relatives, anxious to keep the beast at the ramparts, and not let it any closer!

Behavioral Best Practices

The COVID-19 pandemic has required millions of people to live under strict lockdown conditions. Still, the psychology of human behavior predicts they will find it harder to stick to the rules if the current situation continues (Sutherland, 2020). Pandemics are controlled when people agree to behave in a particular way, like covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing, washing their hands, not touching their faces, and complying with social distancing rules. That is why public health experts and policymakers have asked people to stay home and avoid group gatherings (Bhanot, 2020; Devlin, 2020).


While there is some guidance on what protective measures individuals can take against COVID-19 (Smith & Klemm, 2020), people worry whether their protective efforts are good enough (Klitzman, 2020). Unfortunately, there are some people who unintentionally, carelessly, or purposefully won’t behave responsibly, which means the pandemic will continue to spread (Taylor, 2020).


Behavioral Economics Assessments in Times of Pandemic

Given Behave4’s experience in the study of human behavior, we know the importance of associating the present circumstances to people’s behavior to be able to predict patterns and design effective interventions. As a pioneering company in the application of Behavioral Economics techniques to Human Resources management (see Samson, 2019), we wanted to put our expertise in evaluating behavioral profiles at the service of the study of the COVID-19 crisis.


Our pilot study is based on the use of our individual measures of preferences and behaviors, obtained through economic games, to predict several variables of interest as we do in one of our most demanded services at Behave4. In the case of our corporate clients, the variables that are typically predicted are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). During this pilot study, however, we have focused on two main variables related to the study goals: people’s concern about the COVID-19 crisis and their perception about the possibility of having been infected by the virus (Behave4, 2020).


Due to the data collected in our pilot study, based on economic games, we have been able to achieve fascinating findings by merging the COVID-19 crisis and people’s behavioral styles. One of the pilot study results indicates that perceiving a greater risk for one’s health, i.e., a higher probability of being infected is associated with a stronger short-run orientation (Behave4, 2020). If you want to learn more about this and many other critical results on how the COVID-19 pandemic affects human behavior, we offer you free access to the full version of our study “Behavioral Economics Assessments in Times of Pandemic” with comprehensive study results here.


Have a look at our Behavioral Diagnosis platform and explore what else Behave4 can offer you if you want to know your employees better by applying the “Know Your People” framework with 30+ behavioral variables customizable to your company’s needs and pre-tested at large scale before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This way, you can extract meaningful results for your business on how to become behavioral agile and thrive in the post-crisis world based on evidence-based Behavioral Economics methodology.

by Wiktoria Salwa, Contributing Writer at Behave4

Sources and Further Reading:

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