The pandemic presented a range of unprecedented challenges that redefined social relationships. The lessons learned in social psychology provide new insights that help to explain human behavior during the pandemic. Over the last two years, there has been increased use of social media, which can be attributed to the need for social connections. I felt disconnected from my friends, turning to social media to feel their presence.
This can also be linked to the need for identity, which implies that when people are separated from each other physically, they somehow lose their sense of identity, which can only be retrieved through social media. All of these can be tied to the fact that human beings’ social and physical separation negatively affects psychological well-being, prompting individuals to develop alternative means for sustainability.
Conformity to the COVID-19 rules can be explained by the need to protect ourselves and others. Social psychology reveals that being conscious of other people’s needs and taking the initiative to fulfill them despite experiencing personal strains is a vital aspect of social well-being. The rise of the pandemic in 2019 increased people’s awareness of their responsibilities in mitigating the spread of the virus. New codes of conduct were formulated, to which everyone abode for the good of everyone in society.
On a personal level, I found it vital to observe sanitation rules and patiently line up in supermarkets observing a one-meter distance. From a psychological aspect, I was willing to obey these rules because I felt the need to save myself and others. Individuals who would have been unwilling to change their daily routines learned to respond positively to changes for the common good.
Kindness, empathy, and hospitality are some of the social values that have been positively affected by the pandemic. The emergence of COVID-19 and its associated death toll caused people to develop humanitarian attitudes, offering to donate food and financial assistance to affected communities. In my village, I joined a group of youths who started a COVID-19 fund to help young children from poor families whose parents were unable to provide food due to the restrictions imposed.
Social psychology explains empathy as the ability to feel another person’s suffering and put oneself in a similar situation, which results in more acts of kindness. Over the entire period of the pandemic, people were more willing to show hospitality to strangers, a virtue that can be explained by the empathy developed.
The development of conspiracy theories and their influences on human behavior can be explained by social psychology. According to Hodgetts et al., people who develop conspiracy theories are less likely to abide by the set rules, hurting themselves and the entire community.
Listening to several theories during the pandemic, I noticed that individuals gave such explanations to dodge government restrictions, which led to more deaths. Consequently, I chose to ignore such theories and concentrate on preserving my health and protecting those around me.