The mainstream media’s negativity bias has distorted the way society views people’s adherence to Covid social distancing rules, a leading psychologist has suggested.
Speaking on the Radio Four Today programme, Prof Stephen Reicher said that the media’s propensity to believe ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ has led to many outlets focusing on rule-breakers and so overstating how much people are flouting regulations.
An impact, suggested Reicher, of the suggestion of widespread rule-breaking is that it sets a negative norm and people think: ‘If everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t I?’”
The real headline of the pandemic, Reicher proposed, is actually “mundane adherence”.
“This is the truth of the pandemic,” he tweeted. “Not the endless stories about a small minority of so-called covidiots but the heroic adherence of so many for so many.”
Main image: A rainbow mural in Soho, London. Credit: Mike Kemp/Getty