LITTLE FALLS, NJ -- Clinical Psychologist Dr. Meryl Dorf joined TAPintoTV’s Executive Producer Brian Brodeur to discuss why some people are not wearing masks, despite evidence showing that it is in the public good.
Dr. Dorf joined Brodeur at East Main Media Studios’ facility in Little Falls, NJ, after being featured several times on TAPintoTV via Zoom. East Main’s studio space has been recently reconfigured to accommodate safe and socially distant production in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are really in a global trauma right now. It is so stressful,” said Dr. Dorf. “People are trying to manage the high anxiety of just getting through these times,” she said. “One of the ways that human beings respond to times of such uncertainty is that we gravitate to groups, to each other. We want to belong.”
Dorf pointed out that most of us have aligned ourselves with groups that have opposing views about masks, usually also along political lines. The stress of the pandemic could be driving many of us to identify more keenly with a particular group and reinforces our need to belong.
These conflicts are not new, Dorf pointed out. During the Spanish flu epidemic, the very same issues arose, because like now, the way to minimize infection was through social distancing and wearing masks since no treatment or vaccine had been identified. Two opposing camps cropped up and had very different ideas about wearing masks. One thought it was the duty of every American to wear masks to try to reduce the spread of disease; the other was more focused on civil liberties, even giving rise to a group called the Anti-Mask League of San Francisco.
Groups demand a certain amount of conformity and Dorf suggested that we might even self-censor our individual opinions if it could bring a divide with the mindset of our group. “In order to remain part of a group,” she said, “We actually take on the ideas and information that supports being in that group.” Wearing a mask or not signals our belonging to a particular group, and the group only reinforces those ideas.
“It’s a basic human need for attachment and belonging,” Dorf said. “Particularly in times of stress and uncertainty, those needs are paramount.”
To learn more about Dr. Meryl Dorf, visit her online at www.meryldorfphd.com.