USC leads research on pandemic panic buying - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC leads research on pandemic panic buying

21 Apr 2020

USC psychology lecturers have launched a national research project investigating the behaviours that have led people to panic buy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Jacob Keech and Dr Karina Rune will conduct the study that is focused on understanding the complex behavioural triggers that have prompted people to buy certain products in preparation for life in lockdown.

“We’ve heard all sorts of different reasons why people have engaged in buying bulk toilet paper or more pasta than they really need,” Dr Keech said.

“Early on in the pandemic, the Prime Minister was even criticising people for that behaviour.

“While the message was perhaps warranted, it is unlikely to be a helpful way to get people to change their behaviour,” he said.

“Our study will seek to examine how individual differences and demographic factors, as well as psychological factors are associated with people stocking up on household products since the pandemic began.”

The researchers will collect data through an anonymous survey that is now open for anyone in Australia over the age of 18 who regularly purchases food or other household items from a supermarket.

“We’re not looking to only sample those who identify as panic buyers, we hope to receive responses from a broad range of people, as we imagine that many regular shoppers have changed their purchasing behaviour since the pandemic was declared,” Dr Keech said.

“We hope that by getting a large set of responses we’ll be able to measure a range of demographic information and see patterns of both differences and similarities in people’s reasons for particular buying behaviours,” he said.

“The information will help to form recommendations around the messages that should be directed at different groups of people in times where panic buying is occurring, whether that’s during the ongoing pandemic situation or during future disasters.”

The survey link to take part in Is it time to stock up? A study on why people buy certain products during the COVID-19 pandemic can be accessed here.

- Megan Woodward

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