Why do people panic buy amid crisis?

So many people are rushing to supermarkets and stockpiling items like toilet paper — but why do we do this?

Overwhelming the supermarkets

People flocking to supermarkets and stockpiling items like toilet paper – it’s called panic buying. Brut spoke with Dr. Wendy Dickinson, a licensed psychologist, to discuss why panic buying occurs.

Fueled by fear

“Panic buying is the idea that people out of fear, out of the unknown are buying more than they would normally buy, or maybe they're buying different things.”, Dickinson tells Brut. Fueled by fear, panic buying combines several psychological phenomena including herd behavior and loss aversion. People often think if someone else is doing something, they should be doing it too. Therefore, panic buying is driven by herd behavior. It can also be loss aversion. “That idea that we're worried about missing out or something, not having what we need, which is again, really driven by fear. And it can also be about comfort. So wanting to stock up on the things that bring you some security and some sense of control during a time that feels largely out of control or uncertain.”, she continues. While panic buying helps people feel in control of the situation, the phenomenon is deeply rooted in our survival mechanisms. “At the end of the day, we're hardwired for survival. Our sort of lizard brain, if you will, the most primitive part of our brain is programmed to keep us alive. And so when you think about the things that go into keeping us alive, we think about food, water, shelter, like all those basic things.”

Devastating consequences

But stockpiling can have devastating consequences – leading to price gouging and low supplies for high-risk individuals. With videos of empty shelves and shoppers stocking up going viral, the key to slowing down the widespread panic is good information, according to Dickinson. “The challenge that we're facing right now is we've gotten a lot of different messages about how much food or preparations to make. And so there are a number of different messages that have come from official sources. And there's also a lot of different information that's coming from the rumor mill and the urban legend. “, she reveals. She concludes, “If you can become aware of the anxiety and the fear motivating some of your decision making, then you can choose to make a different choice or engage in a different behavior.”


03/21/2020 11:58 AM


  • Bharath K.
    03/25/2020 02:04

    We act civilised , a true nature of every one can be seen in this pandemic

  • Lyndsliē A.
    03/23/2020 06:52

    COVIDIOT 🙄🤦🏻‍♀️

  • Mary S.
    03/23/2020 04:44

    They are greedy SAME ON THEM

  • Donald K.
    03/23/2020 00:49


  • Melody Y.
    03/22/2020 22:34


  • Puji Y.
    03/22/2020 14:54

    Cebokan aja pakai air lebih bersih loh.. tidak perlu toilet paper... Lagipula tidak perlu menimbun barang...wabah akan berakhir seperti yang sudah-sudah.. obatnya sudah ditemukan , jadi jangan panik or khawatir tidak ada bahan kebutuhan pokok & sanitasi... semua akan selalu tersedia di supermarket.

  • Derek C.
    03/22/2020 12:12

    bunch of lost souls

  • Maria D.
    03/22/2020 10:22

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  • Joseph V.
    03/22/2020 10:13

    Corona Virus will go to your mouth so you need Face Mask and Soap to Wash Your Hand. Not toilet paper for your Azz. 🚽 😁✌️Virus wont go there.

  • Shudong .
    03/22/2020 05:16

    It’s horrific!

  • Sabina S.
    03/22/2020 02:10

    Maybe if the Supermarkets would keep the most essential food products and toiletries off the shelves and make a announcement for customers if they wish to get those items they will get them at the checkout in this way no one will be greedy enough to take everything for themselves.

  • Lawrence E.
    03/21/2020 18:53

    becuz we so very full of....

  • Claudia T.
    03/21/2020 16:49

    These people are just so full of sh*t. :)

  • Anita G.
    03/21/2020 16:12

    Because people never heard about bidet and never knew that soap and water can make miracles😜😜

  • Barbara G.
    03/21/2020 15:42

    Wish upon them explosive diarrhea

  • Deborah W.
    03/21/2020 14:46

    We do not need to panic but we need to share what we have

  • Ethan W.
    03/21/2020 14:40

    Cause a person can be smart, but people are dumb panicky idiots

  • Decky P.
    03/21/2020 14:36

    Too Many Hole wood movies🎥🤔🙄😱

  • Jeff M.
    03/21/2020 14:35

    "Stupidity "

  • Javier O.
    03/21/2020 14:29

    they need t.p for their bunholes

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