Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

The science behind how we behave in a pandemic

Empty shelves.
Shelves where toilet paper used to sit remain empty inside of the downtown Minneapolis Target on Tuesday, March 17.
Evan Frost | MPR News

You’ve likely heard of the fight or flight instinct. Our brain is hardwired to help us survive, and when we’re experiencing extreme stress it gives us two options — confront the source or flee.

But how does that response change during a global pandemic that brings prolonged periods of stress or danger? And does the behavior we observe from those around us change what we do as well?

MPR News host Kerri Miller talked to an anthropologist and a psychologist on how living through a global pandemic changes our behavior.


  • Regan Gurung is the director of the general psychology program at Oregon State University.

  • Augustin Fuentes is the chair of the department of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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