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What if...

3 research-backed methods to cope with the uncertainties of pandemic life

A psychologist explains how to deal with plaguing thoughts in these unprecedented times.

It’s 1:36 a.m. and I’ve just gotten my daughter back to sleep after she threw up violently. She has no fever, no cough, no shortness of breath, but what if…. I think it’s food poisoning and not Covid-19, but I can’t know for sure. Not knowing is hard. I’ll call the pediatrician in the morning, but for tonight I’m left with racing “what if” thoughts.

Most people hate this all-too-familiar type of uncertainty. I find it fascinating.

As a psychologist, I’m interested in how people think differently when they’re anxious. That means I study what happens when people don’t handle uncertainty well and get lost in that bottomless pit of currently unanswerable questions.

If you’re having trouble handling pandemic uncertainty, psychology research can offer tips on how to deal with these unprecedented times.

Risky business

Video of people singing shows how easily Covid-19 can spread in groups

Our new study, which included filming droplets and aerosols emitted when someone sings, shows how singing might be an infection risk.

Production of the reality TV show The Masked Singer was shut down last month after several crew members were infected with Covid-19.

It’s one of several examples of Covid-19 transmission associated with singing around the world since March, prompting some jurisdictions to ban group singing altogether.

In New South Wales, for example, choral singing is banned and there are no-singing rules at weddings and nightclubs.

Now our new study, which included filming droplets and aerosols emitted when someone sings, shows how singing might be an infection risk. This is especially if many people sing together in a poorly ventilated room.


Test your viking knowledge with these five questions



FF7 Remake Part 2 should take a Mass Effect approach to 1 deleted scene

If Aerith lives, somebody else has to die.

One of the most dramatic scenes from the original Final Fantasy VII involves the entire party parachuting down into the city of Midgar amidst total chaos. Developers reportedly first considered a drastically different outcome for the sequence that would have involved killing off several characters close to the game's big finale.

Considering how much of the story has changed with Final Fantasy VII Remake, whenever the series reaches this point in the narrative in Part 2 or a later entry, developer Square Enix ought to reconsider this more dramatic approach. The perfect way to do it is by emulating Mass Effect and its sequel.

Mind and Body

A "seriously dangerous" set of skills separates psychopaths from sadists

A psychologist explains the key differences.

dane_mark / Getty Images

Why are some humans cruel to people who don’t even pose a threat to them – sometimes even their own children? Where does this behavior come from and what purpose does it serve? Ruth, 45, London.