Objective danger and subjective panic in Wuhan COVID-19: An extended overseas“Psychological Typhoon Eye”Effect
YANG Shu-wen1,2XU Ming-xing1,2KUANGYi1,2DING Yang1,2ZHENGRui1,2RAO Li-lin1,2 LI Shu1,2
1CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioural Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China 2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China 3 School of Transportation, Fujian University of Technology, Fuzhou 350118, China
Abstract：A three-wave survey was conducted for over a year in China to investigate respondents’ post-earthquake concerns about safety and health in relation to the respondents’ residential devastation level after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. The findings revealed a significant inverse pattern between residential devastation level and the post-earthquake concerns. Li et al. called their observed phenomenon the “psychological typhoon eye” (PTE) effect because it may be analogous to the meteorological phenomenon of the eye of a typhoon, in which the low-pressure center of a strong tropical cyclone is calm, whereas the peripheral part is extremely violent. Since mid-December of 2019, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been spreading from Wuhan, China, to all over the world. To determine ifthe worldwide fearengendered by COVID-19 is expressed in the same manner as the subjective fear induced by catastrophic earthquakes, we conducted a multinational survey to investigate participants’ safety concerns and risk perception of the epidemic that occurred in Wuhan City and measured the spatial distance from their residences to Wuhan City. Concern or perception was measured by asking the participants to indicate their estimated number of social/family gatherings, hand shakings, body temperature measurements, and clothing changes needed for Wuhan residents during the Chinese Spring Festival. A total of 353 adults from 19 countries were surveyed via WeChat. We found that this effect was applicable to COVID-19. Participants staying abroad showed more safety concerns or fears regarding the epidemic in Wuhan compared with those staying in China. People at zero distance to Wuhan were at the center of the PTE, and their safety concerns and risk perception were the lowest. The theoretical and practical implications of the extended overseas PTE in response to COVID-19 aim to mitigate the impact of the PTE.The underlying mechanisms of the PTE were discussed as well.