Human culture evolves at a much more rapid rate than human physiology and psychology. New technology leads to a new way of life, new standards of living, and new comforts. But what new technology doesn’t bring is a quick change in how humans react to external stimuli. We still react to joy, fear, and jealousy in predictable ways. We haven’t greatly evolved away from these emotions.
And that’s why game theory is useful to predict the human emotional outcomes of global events. As an example, the world is experiencing a viral outbreak that is spreading with a domino like effect. The US is approximately a week and a half behind Paris which is roughly 5 days behind Italy and so on. We see exactly what is coming our way and can predict based on those events the human reaction.
What will happen when governments start to indicate a potential quarantine lockdown, shuttering businesses, schools and non-essential activities? Fear.
Fear of the unknown will ripple through society as if it were an entirely unique virus. We can expect many people will have varying degrees of understanding and experience with dealing with fear. Real fear. We can expect varying degrees in panic and hoarding, opportunistic entrepreneurship and a significant amount of denial of any threat.
Many will go about there business as if everyone is over reacting. It couldn’t possibly happen to us. They are unfamiliar with Black Swan events. The number of disbelievers is directly proportional to the level of panic that will take place when the inevitable quarantine mandate is passed throughout the US. These are the people that are “caught offside”. There reactions will be a metaphor, waking from an ignorant dream. Buying anything and everything remaining on shelves and rioting when they find an absence of their needs.
It’s predictable because it’s how it has always happened throughout history. It’s an example of why studying behavioral economics and game theory is important for an increasingly connected world. If you understand how individuals and communities will react to the consequences of events, you can effectively prepare. As life shifts to more digital interactions we can expect human behavior to transfer online. By studying these fields, its possible to avoid being caught offsides, avoiding the emotional response that comes with the experience.