The article examines the peculiarities of people’s panic because of a prolonged extreme situation of uncertainty on the example of 2020 spring quarantine self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Excessive emotional reactions of the anxiety-phobic spectrum are a reflection, first of all, of a person’s internal state. And, most often, such reactions are associated with the compensation of other reasons causing the person’s overreactions to external triggers. In this case, panic arises because there is a combination of emotional factors and objective evidence that coronavirus (COVID-19) is a disease spread rapidly, so the infection can occur during short contact with the carrier. A large number of countries involved in the pandemic create the basis for panic reactions through the catastrophic idea that death is inevitable, because any person today is in the focus of infection.
The study determined the intensity of positive and negative emotional states, characterized the peculiarities of experienced danger and helplessness during self-isolation, and analyzed the levels of trust in rumors and fake news regarding the likelihood of repeated quarantine in the future. The main manifestations of panic at the initial stage of its occurrence included deep changes in people’s emotional states, which contributed to excessive excitement of the psyche, the emergence of feelings of danger and helplessness, as well as uncritical perception by people of intensively circulated rumors. These manifestations preceded changes in people's behavior, which, obviously, was the embodiment of panic. The analyzed emotional reactions showed that 25% of the respondents had few positive emotions during quarantine self-isolation. During the quarantine period, from 75 to 99% of people believed that they were in a danger or retrospectively described it. The analysis also showed low levels of manifestations of such emotions as joy or relief. At the same time, the number of individuals who demonstrated highly negative emotions increased by the factor of 2–3. The number of respondents with the high degree of experiencing danger in a quarantine situation exceeds 65% of the sample, and the proportion of the respondents showing deep helplessness was more than 50%. The results also showed significant increase in the number of people who highly trusted in rumors and fake news and decreased number of people with low confidence in rumors about the threat of repeated self-isolation. The data obtained can become benchmarks for assessing the situation in settlements that are more prone to panic. In a prolonged extreme situation, in contrast to short-term panic, emotional stress increases gradually, which makes it possible to predict panic moods and apply timely measures preventing panic behavior among the population.
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