Social distancing or social connectedness?
With research colleagues from the University of Melbourne and Australian National University, BehaviourWorks’ Research Fellow, Alexander (Zan) Saeri, recently published an important piece in The Conversation on the negative impacts that words and labels can have on our psyche and behaviour in times of crisis.
The researchers are particularly concerned about the use of phrases such as ‘social distancing’, as they believe it can increase people’s feelings of isolation, loneliness and anxiety.
As the researchers suggest, humans are innately social, and our natural instinct is to reach out to touch or be close to others when we feel unwell or afraid.
They want to see governments and communities create the kind of social infrastructure that will support and encourage connectedness, noting that ‘social solidarity’ is a proven method of building resilience.