Got the sniffles? Heres how to make the right decision around family gatherings: Study shows that pausing for self reflection can lead to decisions that reduce others COVID-19 risk

With what some are calling a “tripledemic” of COVID-19, the influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, soaring in many parts of the country, the holiday season will come with some tough decisions again this year:

Should you go to that Thanksgiving gathering even though you woke up with the sniffles? Send your child to that school performance even though she was coughing last night? Wear a mask to the grocery store after you learned your friend has COVID-19?

New University of Colorado Boulder research, published in the journal PNAS Nexus, shows that when people simply take a moment to reflect on the consequences of their behavior they tend to choose options that impose fewer risks on other people.

The international study of 13,000 people also found that, almost universally, people value others’ health and wellbeing.

“Most people aspire to behave in a way that considers others’ wellbeing but often, in the moment, they behave more selfishly than they aspire to,” said senior author Leaf Van Boven, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder. “Our lab is trying to devise ways to help people better align their in-the-moment behavior with their values.”

For the study, conducted at the height of the pandemic, Van Boven and collaborators in London, Austria, Singapore, Israel, Italy and Sweden presented participants in those countries and the United States with three hypothetical scenarios:

In one, they owned a small restaurant and were considering reducing capacity as the virus surged.

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