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Hoarding, stockpiling, panic buying: What's normal behavior in an abnormal time?

Panic Buying

Panic Buying is more of an impulsive, reaction which is usually temporary and is mainly the anxiety which is felt due to an impending future event or crisis.

It includes buying huge quantities of.. toilet paper too. It also involves going into ‘survival mode’ and scavenging during an ongoing crisis.

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A compulsive behavior
A compulsive behavior

It involves actions a person feels driven to do over and over again.

Compulsive actions may appear to be irrational or pointless, but the individuals may feel incapable of ...

Compulsion vs. Addiction

A compulsion is an overwhelming desire to do something. An addiction is a physical or chemical dependence on a substance or behaviour.

Two key differences between compulsion and addiction:

  • Pleasure. Compulsive behaviours rarely result in feelings of pleasure. People with addictions desire the substance or behaviour because they expect to enjoy it.
  • Awareness: People with compulsive disorders are typically aware of their behaviours and bothered by the lack of logical reason for doing them. People with addictions are unaware of or unconcerned about the negative consequences of their actions.
Compulsion vs. Habit
  • Habits are repeated actions that must be consciously initiated. Eventually, the process becomes subconscious and automatic: for example, when you are brushing your teeth.
  • Unhealthy habits can become a compulsion or even an addiction. For example, the good habit of regular exercising can become an unhealthy compulsion or addiction when done in excess.

The difference between a compulsive behaviour and a habit is the ability to choose to do them.

Panic Buying
Panic Buying

The world is seeing panic buying in supermarkets, with items like toilet paper, milk, soda, hand sanitizers, etc. flying off the shelves, especially in places with confirmed cases of the virus.

...
Downsides of Panic Buying
  • Panic buying makes people feel in charge of the situation, while seemingly mundane measures like hand-washing, which are actually impactful, seem ordinary.
  • The problem comes when people overbuy in their over-panicked state of mind (irrational stockpiling), making the shortages worse than they really are.
  • Speculators also take advantage of panic buying and raise prices of essential items like face masks, forcing companies to take appropriate measures.
Loss Aversion

..is a principle which makes people do things so that they don't feel regretful later. 

People are panic-buying for the same reason too, with social media and news media amplifying the sense of scarcity.

Clutter across generations and cultures
Clutter across generations and cultures

Victorians lived in houses that were overflowing with artsy items and other kinds of things. So clutter is not entirely an American notion, but modern Americans cultivate its presence in ways that ...

The shift from accumulation to consumption

It happened between the 1880s and the 1920s. Before that, most belongings were either made at home or bought from local craftspeople or general stores.

American manufacturing and transportation took off around the turn of the 20th century, so the economy of items began to centralize.

Why we cling to material things

Psychologists found that people cling to material stuff as a response to a form of anxiety (about loss, financial instability, even body image) and that clutter itself is often a source of stress.

Clutter tends to accumulate in the homes those working people for whom the hope of financial stability and the lurking possibility of ruination are always present.