Pandemic Emotions: The Good, the Bad, and the Unconscious — Implications for Public Health, Financial Economics, Law, and Leadership

50 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2020 Last revised: 18 Apr 2021

See all articles by Peter H. Huang

Peter H. Huang

University of Colorado Law School

Date Written: June 12, 2020


Pandemics lead to emotions that can be good, bad, and unconscious. This Article offers an interdisciplinary analysis of how emotions during pandemics affect people’s responses to pandemics, public health, financial economics, law, and leadership. Pandemics are heart-breaking health crises. Crises produce emotions that impact decision-making. This Article analyzes how fear and anger over COVID-19 fueled anti-Asian (American) hatred and racism. COVID-19 caused massive tragic economic, emotional, mental, physical, and psychological suffering. These difficulties are interconnected and lead to vicious cycles. Fear distorts people’s decision readiness, deliberation, information acquisition, risk perception, and thinking. Distortions affect people’s financial, health, and political decisions, causing additional fears. Emotions have direct health impacts and indirect behavioral impacts, which in turn have their own health impacts. People differ vastly in if, how much, and when they experience anxiety, complacency, and panic during pandemics. A common time path is to feel some anxiety initially, then panic, and finally become complacent. This Article advocates these responses to pandemics:
(1) paying people directly monthly pandemic financial assistance,
(2) encouraging people to practice mindfulness,
(3) enforcing gently Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions,
(4) fostering accurate information acquisition about pandemics, and
(5) applying psychological game theory to better understand emotions that depend on beliefs about leadership.

Keywords: Pandemic emotions, racism, cognitive economics, information avoidance, monthly pandemic financial assistance, gentle enforcement, mindfulness, information acquisition, psychological games of leadership

JEL Classification: I1, I12, I18, H12, K32

Suggested Citation

Huang, Peter H., Pandemic Emotions: The Good, the Bad, and the Unconscious — Implications for Public Health, Financial Economics, Law, and Leadership (June 12, 2020). U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 20-14, Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, Vol. 16, No. 2, Article 3, 80-129, 2021, Available at SSRN: or

Peter H. Huang (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

Colorado Law
401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303 492-4563 (Phone)
303-492-1200 (Fax)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics