The use of behavioural psychology in influencing public behaviour during the pandemic – a.k.a. Project Fear – must be part of the U.K. COVID-19 Inquiry, say 42% of the public, according to a new poll. A State of Fear author Laura Dodsworth has more.
An independent new survey by opinion experts Yonder for grassroots organisation Recovery has revealed that the terms of reference fail to address major public concerns. Although the draft terms bullet-point no less than 32 separate areas of focus for the Inquiry, key areas of concern are missing.
Recovery found that:
• 42% want the Inquiry to consider the use of behavioural psychology in influencing public behaviour during the pandemic.
• 40% want restrictions on the media examined, reflecting concern over whether the actions of Ofcom and the main broadcasters and social media platforms compromised freedom of speech.
• 60% want a specific focus on children to be included in the inquiry – there is currently no mention of impact of Covid measures on children.
Jon Dobinson who heads up Recovery said:
“There are obvious dangers in the unchecked use of sophisticated psychological techniques by Government to alter people’s behaviour without their knowledge or consent. Behavioural psychologists were given free rein during the pandemic and their controversial use of fear in particular has had serious consequences for mental health. The Inquiry must bring some overdue scrutiny to the work of the nudge unit: controls on its techniques are vital.”