Personal hardships might seem overwhelming and impossible to overcome by numerous people. Nowadays, when faced with pandemics, such hardships are seen in a more fatalistic manner. Unfortunately, I suffer from mental issues for the same reason as these individuals: the uncertainty surrounding the pandemics and the panic around it. Although I have developed some strategies to cope with this issue, there are additional obstacles that might prevent me from managing my anxiety. In the current reflective essay, I will analyze in greater detail the limitations of my approach towards the issue, my errors, and possible improvements of the strategy.
Relativism Impact on the Issue
Before all, the nature of cognitive development in college students (and me as well) has an impact on the way that I think about pandemics. Namely, the Stage Two approach of relativism presupposes critical apprehension of the information that a person accepts. One perceives that there is no one ultimate truth and only opinions and their expression matter (Boss, 2021). From one side, it is useful since I can be critical towards multiple media news providing information about the COVID-19. On the other hand, there are certain limitations in this approach that provoke even more anxiety. As such, I can understand that the messages of the media might not be verified or prejudiced; after all, the methods of collecting data about the virus’s danger might be imprecise. Next, I began to think that the situation was not portrayed correctly and might be more threatening than it seems. Following this, I feel anxious about my relatives and form the thought that my experiences and knowledge are more applicable in such a circumstance. Thus, relativity can be somewhat harmful to the comprehension of the problem and prevent me from rational thinking.
Cognitive and Social Errors
I have developed a strategy of putting an effort not to overemphasize the data that I get from the researchers about COVID-19. The reality of the day is every second person who thinks about COVID-19 becomes anxious (Petzold et al., 2020). Yet, I understand that some cognitive and social errors might interfere with it. First of all, the most undesirable mistake that I commit regularly is due to conformity bias. More precisely, the process of the availability cascade when the general public repeats some opinion or information multiple times, one can become influenced by this belief (Murphy, 2020). When my relatives and friends discuss the mortality rate of COVID-19 and present it as a disease that killed all people who suffered from it, I forget that it is an exaggeration.
Some other misconceptions caused by the errors are present in my mental health problem. Next, the bandwagon effect is closely related to the previous one: when masses share some popular opinion, individuals acquire it as well (Barnfield, 2019). As was said earlier, my circle of close people and the influencers online share a common belief about the dangerous nature of pandemics. If I do not think about it more thoroughly, I can become sure in this view and panic. Finally, I am vulnerable to bias blind spot errors described by Zaleskiewicz & Gasiorowska as the opinion and knowledge of others seem less reputable and valuable (2021). I can be critical of researchers’ data and think about the issues of gathering information to become sure that the mortality rate is higher than said in the articles. Thus, these errors corrupt my effective strategy and lead to the same consequence of anxiety.
Distortion of Control Apprehention
The mentioned problems are somewhat similar to the misconception of having control over something. Such distortion can be manifested in various forms: superstitions, probability errors, magnification of one’s abilities, and underestimation of inabilities (Boss, 2021). Unfortunately, these issues affect not only my mental health during pandemics but the achievement of my life goals as well. At times, I become too self-confident about my ability to study or perform some work. Then, I attempt to grasp more studying and working than possible for the moment, after which I become disappointed in myself. Afterward, I can even abandon the activity in which I previously have been interested and made success and consider myself not worthy of anything related to this activity. However, I can apply some critical-thinking strategies for resolving these issues. First, I should accept that some matters need time to be of the quality I expected and compute my goals according to my abilities. Second, I should consider the external conditions that might suddenly change and prevent me from achieving my goals. I can develop some crisis plans to deal with these obstacles effectively.
Returning to the current issue of anxiety because of the COVID-19 hysteria, I understand that there are fallacies that add up to the problem. Above all, when I read some newspapers or even scientific articles, I might be sensitive to emphasis on the negative conclusions, which is a fallacy of emphasis (Boss, 2021). Specifically, the presentation of the worst statistics without showing all the results about the COVID-19 falls under this matter. Furthermore, a fallacy of division supposes that one would extrapolate the information about a group of people on other individuals (Boss, 2021). As such, I read about the deaths of people with allergies to the vaccines and can become panicked that my family members would suffer too. Finally, a fallacy of composition guarantees the opposite misconception of the previous one (Boss, 2021). When I hear that one of my acquaintances became ill, I might think that all of the nearby people are Ill as well. In fact, there are fallacies of ambiguity that are not surprisingly present now, in such an uncertain time.
Strategies for Elimination of the Fallacies
Despite the fact that my irrational thinking might harm the implementation of my coping strategy, I can prevent this by applying some other methods of critical thinking. First, to pay less attention to the artificial emphasis, I can remind myself to search for additional information for a full picture of the data. Secondly, I should reach out to my friends and relatives if I forget that they are not so sensitive to the virus or the vaccine side effects. Thirdly, it can be useful to analyze the information that I hear and read to calculate how many persons are involved in it. There is an evidence that approaches like these mentioned might positively influence the decision-making process and relieve one from stress (Boss, 2021). In this way, I would recognize that there is no application to the large groups only based on the data about one person.
Thus, in the essay, I applied my knowledge about critical thinking skills and their use of my personal hardships. In the context of pandemics, I became too panicked about the health of my family and friend because of erroneous social thinking. Moreover, misconception about my control over the situation and fallacies of ambiguity makes it even worse for me to comprehend the facts rationally. Yet, if I apply some effective strategies for coping with these issues, I can become less anxious.
Barnfield, M. (2019). Think twice before jumping on the bandwagon: Clarifying concepts in research on the bandwagon effect. Political Studies Review, 18(4), 553–574. Web.
Boss, J. (2021). Think: Critical thinking and logic skills for everyday life (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
Murphy, B. R. (2020). Even scientists can be biased. Fisheries, 45(11), 571–573.
Petzold, M. B., Bendau, A., Plag, J., Pyrkosch, L., Mascarell Maricic, L., Betzler, F., Rogoll, J., Große, J., & Ströhle, A. (2020). Risk, resilience, psychological distress, and anxiety at the beginning of the COVID‐19 pandemic in Germany. Brain and Behavior, 10(9). Web.
Zaleskiewicz, T., & Gasiorowska, A. (2021). Evaluating experts may serve psychological needs: Self-esteem, bias blind spot, and processing fluency explain confirmation effect in assessing financial advisors’ authority. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 27(1), 27–45. Web.