There were two narratives that emerged in the week before we locked down on 23rd March that could go some way to explaining why the UK was relatively slow to lockdown. One was the idea of “herd immunity” - that the virus was always going to spread throughout the population to some extent, and that should be allowed to happen to build up immunity.
That theory may have been based on a misunderstanding of how this particular virus behaved.
The second narrative was based on the idea of “behavioural fatigue”. This centred around the notion that the public will only tolerate a lockdown for so long so it was crucial to wait for the right moment to initiate it. Go too soon, and you might find that people would not comply later on.
It turns out that this theory was also wrong. And based on a fundamental misunderstanding of human behaviour.
Despite photos of packed parks, crammed beaches and VE day conga lines, on the whole the British public complied beyond most people’s expectations.
So what informed the government’s decision making?In this programme we ask, what is “behavioural fatigue”, where did it come from, how much influence did it have on the UK’s late lockdown, and where does Nudge theory fit into the narrative?
Presenter: Sonia Sodha
Producer: Gemma Newby
Editor: Jasper Corbett
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