Fear is a primary and irrational feeling that spreads very easily and puts the human being in an alert situation in which it is difficult for him to listen; That is why experts appeal to the importance of giving truthful information without alarmism and attending only to what the health authorities say.
Societies change and with them, their fears; The main ones of the current one, in which we live more years than the previous ones, are old age, illness and death, so the emergence of COVID-19 has led people to activate their alert mechanism, explains Efe the sociologist of the Professional College of Political Scientists and Sociologists of Madrid, Myriam Fernández Nevado.
And fears begin mostly with rumors, "and rumors arise because of a lack of information or because it is incongruous or confusing, which gives way to uncertainty."
In turn, "not knowing is one of the emotions that causes more distress in humans," adds Timanfaya Hernández, deputy secretary of the Governing Board of the College of Psychology of Madrid.
All this can unleash situations such as those that are being seen in Italy, where streets and supermarkets are empty despite the constant messages of call for peace of mind of their political and health authorities.
Once the alarm has been triggered, "returning to normal is more expensive," says Hernández, who warns of another unwanted effect, perhaps even worse than the alert itself: getting used to.
"The reaction to the information goes up until a habituation process takes place, which is as bad as the warning process because at the end of the warning process uncontrolled measures are taken, and in the habitation process no action is taken because as the first they had already been out of control and we have verified that nothing happens, people are already accustomed and do not take it into consideration, "he explains.
Therefore, what it touches now is to "redirect" the initial alarm situation, and that is only achieved with truthful and clear information.
This is what Fernández Nevado agrees: fear, a "primary feeling" par excellence, both individually and collectively and more difficult to control due to its irrational nature, can only be overcome with rigorous and truthful information.
It is not just that the authorities "bombard" with data, but that the channel has to be chosen well so that the citizens maintain confidence. And in this the media play a fundamental role.
In this work, the sociologist and political scientist points out, "semantics and liturgy is very important: if expatriate reporters go out with a mask, they have to explain it, but in Madrid we know that wearing it is useless."
In fact, today the Federation of Associations in Defense of Public Health (FADSP) has warned that the coronavirus infection "is being magnified by the media", despite what is known so far does not have a higher lethality rate than seasonal flu.
Also the Federation of Associations of Journalists of Spain (FAPE) has called on Wednesday to all the media to report "with rigor and real, verified and verified data" and flee from yellow approaches that foster widespread fear.
However, Fernández Nevado is convinced that in Spain there will be situations of collective hysteria: "We are a very content country. The democratic culture of respect and self-regulation that we have demonstrated in other cases will remain in this", and this because citizens "trust their healthcare professionals".