Document Type



Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy




Pandemics lead to emotions that can be good, bad, and unconscious. This Article offers an interdisciplinary analysis of how emotions during pandemics affect people’s responses to pandemics, public health, financial economics, law, and leadership. Pandemics are heart-breaking health crises. Crises produce emotions that impact decision-making. This Article analyzes how fear and anger over COVID-19 fueled anti-Asian and anti-Asian American hatred and racism. COVID-19 caused massive tragic economic, emotional, mental, physical, and psychological suffering. These difficulties are interconnected and lead to vicious cycles. Fear distorts people’s decision readiness, deliberation, information acquisition, risk perception, and thinking. Distortions affect people’s financial, health, and political decisions, causing additional fears. Emotions have direct health impacts and indirect behavioral impacts, which in turn have their own health impacts. People differ vastly in whether, how much, and when they experience anxiety, complacency, and panic during pandemics. A common path is to feel some anxiety initially, then panic, and finally become complacent. This Article advocates these responses to pandemics: (1) paying people directly monthly pandemic financial assistance, (2) encouraging people to practice mindfulness, (3) gently enforcing Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions, (4) fostering accurate information acquisition about pandemics, and (5) applying psychological game theory to better understand emotions that depend on beliefs about leadership.