Covid hasn’t brought us together, but divided us: Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

The influential behavioural economist regrets that Covid-19 deniers are on the rise

Renowned Israeli-American behavioural economist Dan Ariely says that although Covid is an opportunity for the world to come together, it has so far not happened because each country is pursuing its own interests. The James B. Duke Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University also regrets that Covid-19 deniers are on the rise across the globe.

To a question on how he expects the human race to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in the face of loss and tragedies, the celebrated author who uses psychological research to reach stunning conclusions about life and work points out that mankind can handle the current negatively as well as positively.

Avers the 54-year-old: “I really think that it is up to us. Covid is an opportunity for the world to come together, to help one another, for countries to help other countries with procedures, lessons, financial aid, vaccination and all kinds of things.”

Ariely hastens to add that this is also “an opportunity to not work together, for countries to work separately”. He compares the current situation to a fork in the road.  “So far, the fork in the road has sadly not been to connect people together.” Ariely, who is also a serial entrepreneur, adds, “I am still hopeful”.

Ariely has been through a painful period of prolonged hospitalisation and trauma as a teenager after he suffered third-degree burns in almost 70% of his body in an accident. Years later, he said that those years of his life inspired him to study human behaviour.

The acclaimed economist also dwelled in an interview to Open on how the ongoing pandemic has influenced lies and truth. “The group of corona deniers is certainly on the increase and the amount of fake news is on the increase. Overall, I fear that Covid has not helped with our journey towards more truth,” he rues.

Ariely, who holds doctorates in cognitive psychology as well as business administration, has written several bestselling books, including Dollars and Sense; Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions; The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home; and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves.

Ariely, who pronounces his surname as ‘oh really’, was born in New York, but emigrated to Israel aged three. An alumnus of Tel Aviv University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University, he was previously Alfred P Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT Sloan School of Management and at the MIT Media Lab. He is married to Sumedha Gupta, an assistant professor at Duke University, with whom he has two children.

First published in Open

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