Increasing Aggressiveness vs Compliance in Lockdown

On January 26, 2021 by Ilka Kuhagen

For 6 weeks, Germany is in full lockdown again and we observe changing attitudes from understanding to complete denial and frustration. When Germany started the lockdown, there was quite a laid-back acceptance of a situation already experienced earlier in the year. It was the second time around and people knew there was no need to purchase toilet paper or yeast and get stressed, there was nothing to fear. It was unavoidable and a necessary evil to help decrease the exploding numbers of Corona cases. People were mentally stronger than in spring 2020.  Yet, over time, additional limitations and an extended lockdown, acceptance decreases, and frustration grows.

Increased aggressivity

An overall observation is, that people are getting impatient and dissatisfied. They start complaining, railing, and fighting.

  • “The overall aggressiveness has increased, you can feel it
  • “What I notice more and more is the mood and atmosphere at work. Everyone is getting increasingly demotivated and irritated. Previously, we were a good team, but now we are strongly divided
  • “Customers are getting more and more irritated and the anonymity that masks add, doesn’t help either.

Growing frustration

For Families with kids or teenagers the situation is even more challenging. The lack of social contacts for kids is obvious. Home schooling demands increasing support from parents, often it is lacking technical equipment and knowhow – at home or with the teachers, while home office adds to the stress.

  • “I do have general sympathy and understanding but it’s hard with a 16-year-old
  • “What I notice is that our 5-year-old catches more and more “grown-up-terms” and starts using them e.g., “Laura is very short-tempered today… that’s probably the lack of social interaction with kids of the same age

Growing depression

The slow increase of lockdowns (from lockdown light to full lockdown to intensified lockdown) over a longer period, is painful and leaves people hopeless and without perspective. There is growing impatience and anger.

  • “The constant Corona-reporting through the media is annoying
  • “I suffer great longing and pain
  • “Lockdown in winter is even worse, the bad weather is making people depressed
  • “Meanwhile, one is in a „whatever/screw that“ kind-of-mood. One cannot really counter political arbitrariness.

Decreasing Compliance

More and more people question the measures, refusing to adhere to rules they do not comprehend. The virus is not taken seriously any longer by some people.

  • “We all (circle of friends) do not know any risk groups and also do not have any close contact with anyone else. Thus, I won’t have them forbit it (seeing my friends)
  • “Some of my kid’s colleagues apparently cannot be carriers and thus do not always comply with hygiene measures
  • “Even if one violates the Corona measures that way, as a single household, I need social contacts
  • „One person can visit another household. But 2 people of the same household cannot come and visit me? That is not comprehensible, and I have to honestly admit, that those friends, I usually see, I see at the moment, too.

Refusal of masks

While the masks have become an even stricter obligation, there are still some who refuse to wear the masks. Many complain that there is hardly any control nor consequences.

  • “I am always astonished, how many people actually still run around without masks. Sometimes I feel as if here, in Frankfurt city center, we wouldn’t even have a mandatory face-mask rule
  • “I returned my rented car today and was surprised that the Europcar employee wasn’t wearing any kind of mask
  • “One adheres to the restrictions, if at all, in public areas, but feels it’s rather patronizing and unnecessary

What motivates to comply?

Still, most participants in the community comply with the rules to avoid contagion and also to save other people: friends and relatives, children! Some have experienced losses in their family or close friends. They want to support a joint effort to help decrease the numbers and fight Corona.

  • “I would have loved to hug him, but especially to protect him, I refrained from it
  • “Because I have a certain sense of duty and I want to protect my family
  • “Because I do not want to end up at an intensive care unit
  • “None of us really know how severe they will fall ill in case they get infected

Still there are many who are very creative to find ways around.

  • “If the weather is nice, all hills for sledging in Munich city are all full. No surprise in a city of 1.5 Mio. people. It is not coherent. So, we are thinking of going to Austria next week for sledging, on a weekday, which is possible because of home schooling. Before, we will dutifully apply for a return to Germany, and will stay at home for 5 days, which we will do anyhow. And then, after 5 days we will do a corona test to get out of quarantine. The last test is already a month old so ist time again. But if this is the idea of the whole thing, is a whole different matter.
  • “Many are always looking for loopholes, according to the principle ‘what one is still allowed to do’ instead of just leaving it, like having birthday parties.

One participant has described it very distinctly:

  • “Especially because I myself do not feel like all these restrictions anymore, I have to do everything in my power (for me and society) for numbers to decrease. If everyone is making an exception, we will never hit the target

After weeks of “light” lockdown, Germany went into a full lockdown again on December 16th. Advent, Christmas and even New Year’s Eve – hard to imagine how people would comply and deal with the limitations. That day, IKM started a long-term online community to observe changes in behavior, compliance, emotions, and observations of consumers in their close environment.

Stay tuned…

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