Carnegie Mellon University

Baruch Fischhoff and COVID-19

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IPS professor Baruch Fischhoff – who has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Wayne State University and a PhD in the subject from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has studied extensively in risk and decision sciences – has spoken to many media outlets about COVID-19, vaccinations, and messaging. Here is some of his latest work.   

Decision fatigue: Why it’s so hard to make up your mind these days, and how to make it easier, September 22, 2021 

"Ask someone you trust who cares about you to check your thinking," Dr. Fischhoff told The Washington Post. "It can be helpful to share your uncertainty and anxiety."

The great COVID-19 shot debate: To boost or not to boost? September 13, 2021

“It’s a moral duty to make certain that people understand,” Dr. Baruch Fischhoff told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s critical to their health and by failing to do that, they have confused everybody needlessly and undermined health confidence.”

Allegheny County Isn't Getting A Mask Mandate 'Yet,' Officials Say, July 28, 2021

Dr. Fischhoff spoke to WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR news station, about the prospect of a mask mandate for Allegheny County and the CDC's latest guidance.

Fighting Vaccine Hesitancy: What Can We Learn From Social Science? July 1, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccination programs across the country transition from meeting urgent demand to reaching people who are less eager to get the shot, leaders are looking for new vaccine communications strategies. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently published two rapid expert consultations that offer advice to public officials about overcoming vaccine hesitancy and communicating about vaccine efficacy.

 

Dr. Fischhoff and Emily K. Brunson, associate professor at Texas State University, recently spoke at a webinar on the two consultations and received more than 1,000 questions from attendees. In this Q&A, they take on some of those questions and go deeper into what we know about vaccine hesitancy, offering insights from their own research and experience.

What is driving China towards its coronavirus vaccination targets? June 21, 2021

Fischhoff spoke to the South China Morning Post about China's vaccination efforts.

They're keeping their masks on. Their reasons extend beyond their health, May 25, 2021

“I think the psychological feeling of relief builds up, and it builds up at different paces for different people." Dr. Fischhoff spoke to NBC News about the reasons people continue to wear masks despite being fully vaccinated.

Encouraging Teen, Kid Covid Shots Likely ‘Hard Sell’ to Parents, May 5, 2021

Dr. Fischhoff spoke to Bloomberg Law about the messaging required to persuade parents to encourage their children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Understanding and Communicating Vaccine Efficacy and Effectiveness, April 2021

Dr. Baruch Fischoff, a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, was the lead author on a new report about COVID-19 vaccines. 

Officials' mixed messaging more than blood clot risks are undermining COVID vaccine rollout, April 16, 2021

“If there’s one government federal system, a single entity that is making that decision, then they need to get their act together. If people are confused, it’s because they’re not doing their job,” Dr. Baruch Fischhoff told the National Post. “This is a situation where experts communicate badly and blame the audience.”

State Providers Won't Distribute Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine, April 14, 2021

“It’s my sense that nothing is tested [for tone] that comes out of CDC,” Dr. Baruch Fischhoff told 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News station. “People, in good faith, write things that make sense to them and then just put it out.” 

Unequal Access: With limited vaccine supply, minority and low-income residents of Pima County face challenges in getting a shot, February 16, 2021

Baruch Fischhoff spoke to Tucson Weekly about vaccine distribution in Arizona.

Experts spent months on a fair COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, only to witness ‘a chaotic free-for-all,' February 6, 2021

“Without having basic information and communication, you just open the door to chaos," Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sneezed on, cussed at, ignored: Airline workers battle mask resistance with scant government backup, January 1, 2021

“Both industry and government have failed the people on the front line who need to administer these rules." Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to The Washington Post about the plight of airline workers whose passengers don't follow the rules. 

Talk evidence covid-19 update - poor public messaging, and vaccine approval data, December 12, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff joined a podcast hosted by the BMJ, a global healthcare knowledge provider, to discuss the PR campaign associated with the vaccine roll-out.

Thanksgiving could make or break US coronavirus response, November 24, 2020

Policy makers must act on incomplete evidence in responding to COVID‐19, November 20, 2020

Professor Fischhoff contributed to an editorial advising policy makers to make do with the information they have, rather than rely on field tests of protective materials, because the field tests are not funded or executed well enough to provide good feedback.

The Most Common Ways COVID-19 Will Spread During The Holidays, November 17, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to The Huffington Post about the threat of spreading COVID-19 during holiday travel and gatherings.

How Your Brain Tricks You Into Taking Risks During the Pandemic, November 2, 2020

“Our official communicators have dropped the ball, and they have been undermined by people who don’t have the public’s interest at heart." Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to ProPublica about the way the source of information about potential risk affects the way people perceive it.

'Cancellation pushback': If authorities keep ruling out the holidays, people will stop listening, October 30, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to The National Post about the risks and decisions involved in holiday gatherings during a pandemic. 

Election, COVID-19 anxiety spark new run on grocery stores, October 30, 2020

“I think that there are plenty of reasons for legitimate concern about disruptions." Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to The Hill about how the perceived threat of election violence, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, has people stocking their shelves.

Once a COVID-19 vaccine is here, there will be a new challenge: Convincing people it's safe, October 24, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to the Philadelphia Inquirer about how to communicate with the public regarding the performance of the vaccines in trials.

Pittsburgh Medical Experts Concerned About Coronavirus Vaccine Hesitancy, October 20, 2020

"We are losing this battle already." Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff discussed lack of trust and misinformation regarding potential COVID-19 vaccines with KDKA.

Pitt experts talk about how to convince people to get COVID-19 vaccine, October 20, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to the Pittsburgh Business Times about convincing people to get vaccinated if and when a vaccine is approved.

Baruch Fischhoff Recruited to Help Devise COVID Vaccine Distribution Plan, October 16, 2020

"Together, we had the pieces to this puzzle," said Fischhoff, the Howard Heinz University Professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Politics and Strategy and Department of Engineering and Public Policy. "Our challenge was to pull them together in usable form."

Fischhoff was one of eighteen members of the Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus, which began work in July and released its recommendations earlier this month. Those recommendations included a four-phase distribution plan that prioritized first responders, healthcare workers, people with underlying conditions, and essential workers before expanding to include the rest of the population.

National Committee Recommends Who Should Be First In Line For A Coronavirus Vaccine, October 12, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR news station, about his participation in a National Academies committee on the equitable distribution of a potential future COVID-19 vaccine.

Face masks: what the data say, October 6, 2020

“People looking at the evidence are understanding it differently. It's legitimately confusing." Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke with Nature about the data behind mask use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Academies Release Framework for Equitable Allocation of a COVID-19 Vaccine for Adoption by HHS, State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Authorities, October 2, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff served on a committee, convened at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health, to develop a recommendation for the equitable distribution of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Read the committee's full report.

Deep cleans and disinfecting mists might not keep us from getting the virus, but they sure make us feel better, September 7, 2020

“It’s very easy to criticize people and psychologize them. But I think most people are doing the best that they can. And they are being woefully let down by both government and industry." Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to The Washington Post about the concept of sanitization theater.

Baruch Fischhoff: the importance of testing messages, August 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff participated in a Q & A in the August issue of the World Health Organization bulletin.

‘Caution fatigue’ and the stress behind living through a pandemic, July 29, 2020

“If you think about the decisions people are making in their lives, much of our population has become intuitive epidemiologists." Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff spoke to PBS NewsHour about COVID-19.

National Academies Launch Study on Equitable Allocation of a COVID-19 Vaccine – First Meeting July 24, July 21, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff is serving on a committee formed by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, at the request of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to develop a framework for the equitable distribution of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. 

COVID-19 Risk Calculation: 3 Questions to Ask Before Going Out, July 16, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff discussed the necessity of good information during the COVID-19 pandemic with Inverse.

A soap opera leads the way into post-lockdown Hollywood, June 17, 2020

“If somebody gets it wrong and there are some tragedies as part of the set, everybody will pay the price." Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff discussed the resumption of filming movies and television shows amid the COVID-19 pandemic with Marketplace. 

‘The Safe Way Forward’ Joint Report from the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, and Teamsters on COVID-19 Safety Guidelines to Provide Safe Workplaces in a Pre-Vaccine World, June 12, 2020

Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff consulted for the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists' report on safely resuming film and television production. Read the full report here.

Making Decisions in a COVID-19 World, June 4, 2020

When is it safe enough to visit a physician’s office, get a dental check-up, shop for clothing, ride the bus, visit an aging or incarcerated relative, or go to the gym? What does it mean that some places are open, but not others, and in one state, but not in a bordering one? How do individuals make sense of conflicting advice about face masks, fomites, and foodstuffs?

These are the questions with which we grapple during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his latest work for the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Making Decisions in a COVID-19 World,” Howard Heinz University Professor Baruch Fischhoff details a path toward synthesizing and distributing the latest information to help the public make informed choices.

As Stores And Restaurants Reopen, Is It Hard To Decide What You Dare To Do? It's Not You, June 9, 2020

Seven findings that can help people deal with COVID-19, June 1, 2020

How to make good enough decisions during the coronavirus pandemic, since making risk-free decisions is impossible, May 24, 2020

States Begin to Reopen During COVID Crisis, but Not Everyone Feels Ready, May 14, 2020

Dewitt and Fischhoff: The about-face on face masks – or, making recommendations fit the evidence, April 29, 2020

Fear is the most serious virus that can affect humans, April 28, 2020

Are homemade face masks effective in protecting against COVID-19? April 24, 2020

Beach Access Becomes A Hot Issue, April 24, 2020

Expert Roundup: Mental Health Support, Isolation Coping Tips, Working from Home, April 21, 2020

After the pandemic, an epidemic of agoraphobia? April 20, 2020

What Is 'Decision Fatigue' and How Does It Affect You? April 14, 2020

Popular coronavirus models offer hope and despair of when to expect the peak, April 10, 2020

Rapid Expert Consultation on the Effectiveness of Fabric Masks for the COVID-19 Pandemic, April 8, 2020

Effectiveness of homemade masks is inconclusive, scientific committee tells White House, April 9, 2020

Professor Fischhoff, a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st-Century Health Threats, co-authored a letter regarding the effectiveness of homemade masks.

A quarter million Americans could die from the coronavirus. Maybe more. How do we absorb that much death? April 3, 2020

Can the Public be Trusted in a Pandemic? March 27, 2020

Hoarding Toilet Paper? Shrinks Say It's Anxiety and Vulnerability, March 20, 2020

Douglas Todd: Keeping calm in an anxious, COVID-19 era, March 19, 2020

FREE Course: Making Sense of the Pandemic: Psychological Impact on Clients and Communities, March 18, 2020

Using the Psychological Science of Crisis Leadership and Communications to Navigate COVID 19, March 23, 2020

Is going to the beach OK? What about hiking? March 23, 2020

IPS professor Baruch Fischhoff lends his expertise to this CNN story about the benefits and risks of outdoor activity during the coronavirus quarantine.

Why are people stockpiling toilet paper and water? Inside the psychology of panic, March 16, 2020

IPS professor Baruch Fischhoff discusses the reasoning behind the hoarding of toilet paper. “I think that the buying is a vote of no confidence in our authorities who haven’t provided explicit assurances that people will be provided for,” he said.

The People Ignoring Social Distancing, March 17, 2020

“You really can’t trust your intuitions,” IPS professor Baruch Fischhoff told The Atlantic. “For anybody—whether it’s politicians or business leaders, or whoever—who’s been seeing the problem growing and relying on their intuitive feeling for how fast it’s going to grow, they’re going to be in trouble.”

In the Wake of the Coronavirus, Here's Why Americans Are Hoarding Toilet Paper, March 14, 2020

“If people did not find the food that they wanted, they could buy other food,” says IPS professor Baruch Fischhoff. “For toilet paper, there are no substitutes.”

Panic Buying: Why Has Coronavirus Pandemic Turned People Into Toilet Paper Hoarders? March 16, 2020


European countries close borders as coronavirus rises, March 14, 2020

Baruch Fischhoff, a professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, appeared on BBC Newshour to discuss the coronavirus. 

What to Do If Your Anxiety About Coronavirus Feels Overwhelming, March 13, 2020

Baruch Fischhoff, a professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, spoke to SELF about anxiety and the coronavirus. “If you’re following all the available recommendations and making thoughtful decisions, you’re doing the best you can. If things do turn out badly, don’t add the insults of regret and blame to the injury of whatever might go wrong.”

Why you should stop obsessing about coronavirus news, and how to do it, March 11, 2020

Baruch Fischhoff, a professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, talked to the LA Times about the responsible consumption of news about the coronavirus. “Remember that the expertise of TV and radio is to keep you listening and to engage you,” he said.

CMU expert: In times of crisis, people want facts, not spin, March 8, 2020

How to deal with fear of novel coronavirus in the face of the unknown, March 5, 2020

"From a risk analysis perspective, some fear and some worry is legitimate, since the virus is still poorly understood and we don't exactly know what the health effects are or what the social effects are going to be," Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Heinz University Professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, told ABC.

 

Coronavirus Is Causing Panic but Not Lawlessness, March 2, 2020

Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Heinz University Professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, spoke to the New Yorker about panic and the coronavirus. "If you don’t believe that the people whose job it is — whether elected or appointed — to manage a crisis or take care of everyone in a difficult situation, then you think it’s everyone for themselves," he said.

Coronavirus and its global sweep stokes fear over facts. Experts say it's unlikely to produce 'apocalyptic scenario,' February 28, 2020

Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Heinz University Professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, stresses the importance of clear communication during a global health crisis in an interview with USA Today.

Should you travel during the coronavirus outbreak? February 27, 2020

"Find a very small number of sources of information that you trust, and you trust them both because they're competent and because you think they're working on your behalf. Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Heinz University Professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, talks to CNN about how to decide whether or not to travel as the coronavirus spreads across the globe.

COVID-19 Preparedness: Clinicians Can Lead the Way, February 27, 2020

Baruch Fischhoff, Howard Heinz University Professor at the Institute for Politics and Strategy, talks to Medscape about the coronavirus outbreak.