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Behaviour Change During Covid-19 Lockdown - A Multi-aspectual Analysis

Behaviour change is usually analysed from a psychological perspective, but to Dooyeweerd human behaviour is multi-aspectual, involving not just the psychical aspect, but also aspects of human determination, communication, sociality, economy, justice, attitude, commitment and more. This is an indicative analysis of behaviour change during the UK's Covid-19 pandemic lockdown from March 2020. Multi-aspectual functioning involves every aspect, so this page will simply work through his fifteen aspects and comment on how that aspect has been meaningful. It offers examples of (a) the context, (b) changes in behaviour that are meaningful in each aspect. Click the name of the aspect for a fuller explanation and discussion of the aspect.

This is merely an indicative analysis, and is by no means complete but gives only a few examples in each aspect.

Aspect The context Our behaviour change
(to do with quantity, amount)
Statistics published each day of number of Covid-19 cases and number of deaths. Nearly 1000 deaths a day at the peak. At various points we were allowed to meet various maximum numbers of people from various numbers of household. For example, in Scotland in August, up to 6 people indoors from up to 3 different households.
(to do with continuous extension, space)
Covid-19 was everywhere, but began in Wuhan, China. "Keep 2m apart" During March to June we mostly stayed at home ("lockdown").
(to do with flowing movement)
The spread of the virus. Covid-19 was spread initially by many people flying all over the world - especially those from affluent nations, so it hit European and North American nations first. And, within those countries, movement was still allowed so it spread through those countries. Our movement was restricted. e.g. from April to June those in Wales were not allowed to travel more than 5 miles - and most did not. Those in England were allowed local walks once a day for exercise.
(to do with energy, fields, mass)
Covid-19 dessicates in dry warm weather, and is ineffective after 72 hours. It lasts longer in cool, moist situations, in the air and on surfaces. We avoided breathing near each other, and avoided touching things.
(to do with life functions)
Source: Covid-19, it seems, jumped species, from bats or fish to humans.

Infection. Covid-19 attacks the lining of the lungs and other similar tissues. Covid-19 exacerbates underlying health conditions, so those with conditions are at much greater risk of dying if they catch it. Symptoms include new dry cough, loss of sense of smell, fever, and sundry other things. People without symptoms are infectious, so Covid-19 takes on the menace of a hidden plague. Covid-19 seems to last 7 days, and then the person is better and seems to have some immunity.

With the massive reduction in traffic and flights, air pollution in cities was greatly reduced, and many who were to die of respiratory diseases caused or exacerbated by it were saved . See Covid-19 saved lives? below.

Cleanliness: We would wash hands with soap and cleanse all kinds of surfaces with alcohol to kill the virus. I carried a soapy cloth in a bag when I went shopping and would wipe my hands with it, and the handlebars of my bicycle, after touching the purchases and putting them in my bag. I washed everything that came into the house - purchases, money, etc.

Isolation: Those with symptoms were required to self-isolate for at least 7 days, and those they were in contact with, for 14 days (7 days to catch it, 7 days to get over it). Those with bad symptoms went into hospital, and often ended up intensive care.

(to do with sense, feeling, emotion)
Those affected can feel rotten, and extremely fatigued, so tend to stay in bed. Fear increased, but also positive emotions because of our functioning in some later aspects; see below.
(to do with distinguishing )
Because Covid-19 was a brand new virus, it was not understood, so a lot of research began on it.

Because there was no traffic noise, many could hear the birdsong around them for the first time.

We became very alert to distinguish whether we were feeling well or not. More positively, we began to pay attention to things we ordinarily overlooked in the sounds and sights around us - especially things of the natural world.
(to do with shaping, achievement: technology, history)
Technology: The UK government urged manufacturing / engineering companies to change their plant to manufacture ventilators. Many companies and individuals began to make face masks. We would plan our purchases and exercise more carefully.

There was a massive use of online technology for communication and purchasing, especially Zoom.

(to do with symbol-signification)
Government information about Covid-19 was sometimes confusing, and often not very well written or explained. Much conversation was about the pandemic. Covid-19 entered our email and other communications, which would typically begin with "I hope you are well" or other references to the virus, and often "Stay safe" was added at the end.

"To zoom" became a common verb, being the name of the technology that most used.

(to do with relationships, roles)
The unit of isolation was the household (not the individual nor the community or street). However, many of those living on their own became lonely.

Initially, social gathering were not allowed. This was particularly hard when people died because the family was not allowed to attend the funeral. Or only a few people were allowed to attend.

We ceased social gatherings for a time. It was only in July that social gatherings were allowed again.
(to do with frugal use of resources)
There was fear that the UK NHS would not be able to cope, because of the limited number of intensive care beds and ventilators available.

At the very beginning, when we were all locked down, supermarkets ran out of certain commodities because people would stock up for fear of not being able to obtain things. Toilet rolls was one such commodity!

Many households faced financial hardship, because they had no income coming in. So did many businesses, especially those predicated on supplying non-essentials. The non-essentials are often highly aesthetic in content, but often also generate injustice or irresponsibility (juridical dysfunction; see juridical below).

People reduced their spending, especially on non-essentials. Example: On 8 April 2020, the UK Road Haulage Association reported that 46% of the UK truck fleet was parked up because nobody was purchasing "non-essentials" (the word they used). This actually saved them money.
(to do with harmony, delight, fun, style)
It is tempting to say that the harmony of life was broken by Covid-19, but that would be over-simplifying. For many, the harmony of life increased because the disruption caused by the frenetic pace of modern life was lessened.

Children drew rainbows and put them in their windows or gardens. I saw one where they had painted or crayoned some of the bricks of the house with rainbow colours. That set up an aesthetic context for the nation in which all were involved, and made people feel better. So too did the ten weekly applaudings of the NHS. Throughout the media, grumbling largely ceased and was replaced by an attempt to help people feel happier and to cope.

We went out for local walks and enjoyed nature much more. And empty roads. Because there was no traffic noise, many heard the birdsong for the first time. Going on local walks, we came to know our local areas much better, and so the harmony with, and enjoyment of, our local areas, increased. (For example, my wife and I discovered footpaths we had not known existed even though we have lived here for nearly 40 years - that was fun!)

Aesthetics, which had been formal and paid-for, such as music events, theatre, other arts, sport and other leisure activities, ceased. They were replaced by informal, non-paid-for aesthetics, which were more available to everyone not just the well-off. So, in a way, the Covid-19 lockdown might have done the world a favour.

(to do with due, appropriateness; justice and injustice)
Regulations and Rules: The Government brought in various rules or regulations that it deemed appropriate to life in the Covid-19 pandemic. For example landlords were forbidden from evicting people who couldn't pay their rents because they had no income.

A personal opinion: Many of the functions of the affluent lifestyle that had been harming the planet and also the Global South were largely stopped. Those functions were high in juridical dysfunction and it was perhaps only right that Covid-19 reduced them. See Note on Injustice in Affluence.

In general, people obeyed the regulations, and many even went further (the ethical aspect).
(to do with self-giving love, which is manifested in generosity and voluntary sacrifice and openness)
We would not have managed had not people become more self-giving and generous, overall. The Opposition declared that they would work with the Government. The Government declared massive financial help to place employees on furlough. Most of the people were willing to make enormous sacrifices, beyond the call of duty, for the common good.

In general, people were willing to make sacrifices - until the Dominic Cummings Affair; see next column.

In general, throughout the pandemic lockdown, people became generous and were more pleasant to each other. Most of the population made great sacrifices.

Gesture of goodwill: For ten weeks, every Thursday at 8 pm we would stand outside our front doors and clap to applaud the NHS workers. This gave them a boost of appreciation.

Crime rates fell, partly because of less opportunity for the normal crimes, but also partly because some criminals shared in the sense of contributing together.

Some exceptions: (1) At the start, when we were all still in shock, locked down because of a virus about which so little was known, some people greedily tried to stock up by purchasing more of certain commodities than was necessary. As a result, supermarkets ran out of those commodities. However, after many pleas from many quarters, people became more relaxed and generous. Later on, it turned out that some people who rented their accommodation refused to pay their rent even though they had an income. They took advantage of the law against evictions.

(2) The Dominic Cummings Affair. While other people were making sacrifices Dominic Cummings, chief advisor to the Prime Minister, acted selfishly and, when this was made public, he refused to say "Sorry" and faced no sanction. Thereafter, trust in the government, and willingness to make sacrifices, reduced across the country. Should not those who set the agenda should also set the example of selfless sacrifice? See below.

(to do with vision, aspiration, commitment, belief)


You are invited to take the analysis further and make it your own. Please feel free to publish any development of these ideas under your own name.

Andrew Basden
14 October 2020


Covid-19 saved lives?

News emerged that it may be that Covid-19 might in fact be saving lives. By vastly reducing traffic, air pollution has plummeted, and many people are likely to live that would otherwise have died. The numbers are interesting. "Two months of pollution reduction "likely has saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China," he said." March 17, 2020 - while deaths from Covid-19 in China of people of all ages were only 3231 on that date.

See ""

Note on Injustice in Affluencë

As said relating to the juridical aspect, many of the functions of the affluent lifestyle that had been harming the planet and also the Global South were largely stopped by the Covid-19 Coronavirus. Those functions were high in juridical dysfunction and it was perhaps only right that Covid-19 reduced them.

It so happened that the Covid-19 Coronavirus was spread by such functions - flying, 'going out', partying, etc. These functions are high in juridical dysfunction, but it has usually been hidden from those who enjoy or partake of them; the injustice is 'outsourced'.

For a discussion of this issue from a Biblical perspective, see Making Sense of the Covid-19 Coronavirus.

The Dominic Cummings Affair

This is an example of dysfunction in the ethical aspect, which changed the whole attitude of a nation. There are two points to this, related to the ethical aspect of self-giving love: a self-serving act and a refusal to say "Sorry".

Dominic Cummings, chief advisor to the Prime Minister, was found to have bent the rules to his own advantage, while everyone else was making sacrifices. While most people were interpreting the rules in the spirit of self-giving and doing more than the rules required, and, for example, abiding by the request not to travel unless absolutely necessary, Dominic Cummings, drove 250 miles from London to Durham to take his child to grandparents, and a few days later had a pleasant 30-mile outing while there to Barnard Castle "to test my eyesight" before driving back to London.

(Admittedly, he had a quandary that makes his action "reasonable" from a juridical perspectice: he and his wife had both tested positive for Covid-19 Coronavirus, and so who would look after their child? They decided the grandparents in Durham could, so he drove an extra 560 miles against the government's own request. The Government's request to not make unnecessary journeys was partly to reduce the chance that Covid-19 would be transmitted via fuel stations by people needing to refuel. It was not a law but was advice and request, so from a juridical perspective he "did nothing wrong". But was Dominic Cummings alone in having that problem? What about the thousands of others who also had a similar problem, but did adhere to Government advice and request, not just the law?)

Secondly, he never said "Sorry," refusing even to admit he might have done something unwise. Nor was he reprimanded by the Government. The Prime Minister, it seemed, also acted selfishly, in that he wanted to keep Dominic Cummings as his advisor - since it had been because of Cummings' advice that he had been able to secure Brexit.

Though Dominic Cummings "did nothing wrong" from a juridical perspective, a pandemic was not a situation in which juridical adherence to rules was appropriate. Instead, pandemics require ethical self-giving and sacrifice - which includes opening oneself up and admitting one has done wrong.

The difference in attitude: self-serving versus self-giving stood out a mile, especially intuitively. So it is unsurprising that, from that date, trust in the Government fell, along with willingness to abide by Government advice or guidance. See Fancourt (2020). If those who form opinions in society act selfishly, then the bulk of people follow and also act selfishly.


Fancourt D, Steptoe A, Wright L. 2020. The Cummings effect: politics, trust and behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet, Correspondence, 365(10249), August 15, 2020, 464-465. See full text.

[Need to supply a referenced example of that claim =====.]

This page, "", is part of a collection that discusses application of Herman Dooyeweerd's ideas, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments are welcome.

Written on the Amiga and Protext in the style of classic HTML.

You may use this material subject to conditions. Compiled by Andrew Basden.

Created: 14 October 2020 Last updated: 17 October 2020 rewrote Dominic Cummings and made it a headed section; bit more about psychology drawing in meaningfulness from other aspects; bolded messages; more at end about psychological study; more in aesthetic and juridical, and section on injustice and link to my covid19.html; saving lives.