Humans are drawn to “simple answers” in times of crisis.

Images of empty cabinets and buying carts piled high with elements that have inundated news reviews and social feeds. People see pictures of panic buyers count on there is a purpose to panic and purchase up materials, too, Taylor stated.

He said people, being social creatures, look to each different for cues for validation on what is safe and secure. People tend to worry when a person sees another person panic buying in the store, Taylor added.

All those photos of empty shelves can also lead humans to trust that they have to rush out and grab toilet paper while they can. And what started as perceived scarcity turns into real scarcity, Taylor said.

Social media is a large participant in novel coronavirus fear-mongering, Taylor said. Misinformation spreads with ease, and open platforms expand voices of panic.