Chinese public's panic buying at the beginning of COVID-19 outbreak: The contribution of perceived risk, social media use, and connection with close others.Curr Psychol. 2022; 41(11):8157-8166.CP
Panic buying is a globally witnessed behavior during the outbreak of COVID-19. This consumer behavior is related to many undesirable consequences, ranging from disrupting economic stability to hindering timely provision of supplies to those in dire need. As such, to understand the causes and underlying mechanisms of panic buying is crucial. Based on terror management theory, this study examined the contribution of perceived risk, social media use, and connection with close others to panic buying. Data were collected through an online survey from 972 Chinese citizens (65.9% female, M age = 33.69 years) at the beginning period of COVID-19 in early February 2020. The results found that individuals with a higher level of perceived risk were more prone to engage in panic buying, but this link was mitigated by connection with close others when individuals less used social media. Theoretically, this study advances the understandings of the psychological processes of panic buying during health crisis. Practically, alleviating individuals' perceived risk, establishing a healthy habit of social media use, and strengthening social ties are important to circumventing panic buying in times of COVID-19.