Assoc. Prof. Onurcan Yılmaz, KHAS faculty member of the Department of Psychology, and Dr. Ozan İşler, a behavioral and experimental economist from Queensland University of Technology, Australia, received this year’s Sakıp Sabancı International Essay Award with their essay titled “Cognitive and Behavioral Consequences of the COVID-19 Threat Around the World and in Turkey”.
Predicting that theoretical approaches focusing on the effects of environmental threats on human psychology in behavioral sciences have serious weaknesses and need to be evaluated from a new theoretical perspective, Dr. Yılmaz and Dr. İşler completed the essay, that took a long time to mature intellectually, in a very short time under COVID-19 conditions.
This article presents a theoretical framework on how human psychology is affected by the COVID-19 threat, using the “Issue Ownership Model”, which has been known in the political science literature for many years but has recently entered the social psychology literature. Besides, a simple but effective risk communication tool is proposed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 threat that could make people more prosocial, more universalist, and more cooperative.
According to this model, emphasizing international solidarity and international scientific cooperation as a solution to the COVID-19 threat is predicted to reduce interpersonal prejudice and in-group bias, and increase social cooperation between different nations, and some correlational evidence is presented in a dataset of 46 countries.
Emphasizing that this perspective, whose preliminary evidence is presented in the essay, needs to be analyzed and experimentally tested in many cultures in future studies, Dr. Yılmaz and Dr. İşler agree that if the theoretical foresight here passes through these experimental tests, it will make us quite prepared for forthcoming pandemics or the global climate crisis that we are likely to face more fiercely in the future.