Psychologists are producing research referring to individuals who have resisted the mass hysteria resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic as mentally ill, claiming that they are more likely to exhibit psychopathic behavior.
A study published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science is attempting to stigmatize those with the courage to stand up against the mob during coronavirus mania.
“On March 31, 2020, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the U.S. government’s Coronavirus Task Force, said, ‘There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors. Each of our behaviors, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic over the next 30 days.’ My experience as a psychological scientist as well as a practicing psychologist has convinced me that the importance of psychology and behavior in the prevention and management of a wide range of health problems is enormous,” said study author Pavel S. Blagov, who works as an associate professor and director with the Personality Laboratory at Whitman College.
“This includes personality, or the study of important ways in which people differ. It was clear from reports in the media very early in the COVID-19 pandemic that some people were rejecting advice to socially distance and engage in increased hygiene. There can be many reasons for this, and I thought that personality may play at least a small role in it,” he added.
Blagov let his own preconceived notions and political biases drive the findings of his study, which is meant to demonize opponents of extreme government overreach.
“I knew that traits from the so-called Dark Triad (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy) as well as the traits subsumed within psychopathy are linked to health risk behavior and health problems, and I expected them to be implicated in health behaviors during the pandemic. There is also prior research suggesting that people high on the Dark Triad traits may knowingly and even deliberately put other people’s health at risk, e.g., by engaging in risky sexual behavior and not telling their partner about having HIV or STIs,” Blagov said to PsyPost.
“Early in the pandemic, and in subsequent months, there were numerous reports of individuals purposefully coughing, spitting, or even licking door handles in public, either as a way to intimidate others or as a way to rebel against the emerging new norms of social distancing and hygiene. I was curious whether the Dark Triad and psychopathy-related traits may help explain such behavior,” he added.
Blagov’s findings were based on an online survey conducted in March, and he even admits that the data is dubious at best.
“The study’s limitations included its use of a non-random, non-probability sample of only U.S. adults; abbreviated trait measures; and newly developed, previously untested health-behavior measures. A likely unintended effect of this may be underestimating the strength of trait-behavior correlations. The results do not mean that viral disease is spread only by irresponsible or inconsiderate people. The correlations were often small, and the scientific definitions of traits are not everyday judgments about character,” Blagov explained.
Even though Blagov admits that his study is based on flawed data, that will not stop public health experts – the same ones who have been proven wrong over and over again throughout the coronavirus pandemic – from using these findings to stigmatize and punish those with the courage to resist.