Irrational as this may seem, health-communications experts, say denial is a natural human response to overwhelming emotion and panic.
It's so natural that even trained physicians have questioned the outbreak. Below are their general tips—as well as an example script—for communicating with friends and loved ones who still aren’t taking the pandemic seriously enough.
The coronavirus outbreak is a story often told numerically: confirmed cases, fatality rates, hospital-bed capacities and so on. 'Trying to identify a human face of people who have experienced coronavirus' probably has a better chance of swaying a listener who hasn’t yet seen the catastrophic effects of the virus firsthand In addition to taking care with your message, be thoughtful about the emotional valence of what you say as well. “Being empathic, nonjudgmental, noncritical, affectionate in tone— all those things are going to be much more likely to motivate the other person to care about what you have to say.
One reason people may underrate the gravity of a pandemic is that they harbor doubts about mainstream science or mistrust authority figures but a pandemic is not the time to address that skepticism. People have underlying values and belief systems that are very difficult to change.
If we don’t want to get into an existential conversation about all those things, we’re better off focusing on the issue at hand, the need to stop meeting up with friends or running nonessential errands.