Behind the Economist paywall, sadly, but this is the key point – always worth remembering beyond the current crisis, and something a number of political leaders need to learn:
“Recommendations that sound more advisory than mandatory seem to presume rational adults will do the right thing with accurate information. The central insight of behavioural economics is that they do not…”
Clarity of messaging is more vital now than ever – it’s become a literal matter of life and death. “Practice social distancing” is vague, confusing, advisory. “Stay home” is clear, unambiguous, mandatory. Guess which has worked better?
This is also a lesson we should take with us after this crisis has passed: If you want to be understood, make your point as clearly and plainly as possible. Otherwise you have no one to blame but yourself when people don’t pay attention to what you’re telling them – or, worse, start believing simpler-sounding misinformation.