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Covid-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria

Philipp Bagus, José Antonio Peña Ramos and Antonio Sánchez Bayón
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Antonio Sánchez-Bayón ()

MPRA Paper from University Library of Munich, Germany

Abstract: In this article, we aim to develop a political economy of mass hysteria. Using the background of COVID-19, we study past mass hysteria. Negative information which is spread through mass media repetitively can affect public health negatively in the form of nocebo effects and mass hysteria. We argue that mass and digital media in connection with the state may have had adverse consequences during the COVID-19 crisis. The resulting collective hysteria may have contributed to policy errors by governments not in line with health recommendations. While mass hysteria can occur in societies with a minimal state, we show that there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits to the harm inflicted, such as sacrosanct private property rights. However, mass hysteria can be exacerbated and self-reinforcing when the negative information comes from an authoritative source, when the media are politicized, and social networks make the negative information omnipresent. We conclude that the negative long-term effects of mass hysteria are exacerbated by the size of the state.

Keywords: mass hysteria; nocebo effects; contagion; mass media; social media; public health; law and economics; political economy; groupthink; culture of fear; emotional contagion; anxiety; policy error; COVID-19 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A10 B53 I10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-12-26, Revised 2021-02-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea, nep-his and nep-hme
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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Published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18.4(2021): pp. 1-15

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