The COVID-19 crisis is not only historical, it is unprecedented as indeed, never before has a pandemic taken such global proportions. As such, governments worldwide are facing the same challenges: how to slow down the spread of the disease, whether to enforce lock-downs or not, how to maintain economic stability and importantly how to communicate effectively with the population to ensure that the policies are implemented with success. So how can governments best inform their citizens? Leveraging insights from behavioural science and related fields, ABSOLUTYS offers governments innovative and successful means to help people make better decisions to help fight COVID-19.

1. Leverage group belonging sense:

Humans are social creatures and their desire to connect to people goes beyond wanting to interact with family, colleagues and friends. A fundamental human need is the feeling of belonging. Studies have shown that a sense of belonging is associated with numerous beneficial outcomes, whereas a broken sense of belonging increases the risk for psychological and physical dysfunction. What is the importance of leveraging a sense of group belonging in this COVID-19 crisis? How does this support governments in implementing the appropriate action to help fight COVID-19 and importantly how can governments achieve this on a population-wide scale? ABSOLUTYS has developed a strategy based on behavioural science to help governments tap into the benefits of this sense of belonging and tailor their communication to the broader audience.

2. Provide readability and comprehension:

When a crisis as devastating as the COVID-19 crisis hits, there is necessarily an information asymmetry between what the governments are receiving as data from scientists, experts and other governments worldwide and the information that can be communicated down to the population. In addition to the way the message should be conveyed, the way it will be perceived needs to be accounted for when drafting the message. Behavioural Science gives relevant insights on how best to address populations with life-changing news. Clarity in the messages that the governments convey is essential to ensure readability and understanding. This can involve answering questions as simple as “Why hand-washing is important?” and “What to wash your hands with?” but it also requires answering the follow up questions that may be less obvious such as “How does washing hands prevent COVID-19?” and “How, how long and how often should hands be washed?”. The content of the message needs to be further supplemented by the form the message takes. “Why is it that bright infographic designs are more efficient at communicating a step-by-step procedure for thorough hand-washing” and “where is the best place to display this hand-washing procedure and instructions to increase compliance to high quality hand-washing” are the questions that ABSOLUTYS helps solve. Communication clarity increases the efficacy of taking action.

3. Provide wise choices:

When health rises up the priority ladder at the expense of all other considerations, as is the case in a Public Heath crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this leads to the increase of difficult choices to be made. Balancing the health safety of a population may come at the expense of the well being of the economy. What are the parameters of these different options, what evidence should governments rely upon to make decisions and how do they convey to their population the appropriate messages to ensure that they in turn make the wise choices? The average person makes an eye-popping 35,000 choices per day and with the lifting of the lockdown, the ones that citizens will need to make will have an impact on their life but also on society as a whole and on the global economy. It is governments’ duty to help support their constituents in making the wise choices and ABSOLUTYS accompanies you every step of the way. ABSOLUTYS helps governments provide wise choices to their population and supports them in analysing the evidence more sharply to reveal further options that help governments make the wise decisions.

4. Provide the right framing:

As thousands worldwide took to the streets to protest against the COVID-19 “lockdowns”, or stay-at-home rules, providing the right framing for difficult policies is more critical than ever before. Most of the adverse effects of the lockdown have come from the imposition of a restriction of liberty. Behavioural Science has shown that voluntary quarantine is instead associated with less distress and fewer long-term complications. Further it is important to emphasize the altruistic choice of self-isolating. ABSOLUTYS supports governments draft and communicate directives and guidelines so that the reactions to these is based on logic rather than reactance.

5. Give directions:

“Should I wear a mask?” “What test should I have done?” “Should I get tested?” are three of the most recurrent questions that people worldwide were asking on social media, to the press and to their governments. Now with the looming lift of lockdown, the questions are exponentially increasing. People are at a loss as to whether they should go back to work, send their children back to school, socialize with friends etc. “How safe is it to do the grocery shopping?” “Will I be able to travel?” “Can I go to the beach?” “Is it safe to take public transport?” These questions need addressing and governments should give direction. Answering them however should be clear in order to increase the efficacy of action and the success of the post-lockdown measures that governments will seek to implement. ABSOLUTYS accompanies you to help governments not only give direction but go the right way! Fighting COVID-19 starts with informing people about health. ABSOLUTYS is the healthcare platform that brings experts, technologies and solutions in one place. ABSOLUTYS helps governments develop the right communication with skill and strategy and importantly using the insights of behavioural science to ensure that the message is conveyed appropriately, understood and implemented. As the COVID-19 crisis has seen one third of the human population under some form of lockdown in April 2020, the world is now considering anti-lockdown measures. How this will be achieved and the success of these measures will be crucial in the global fight of COVID- 19.

Dr. Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio & Dr. Raphaela Kitson-Pantano