The psychologist and member of Independent Sage on the flaws in the Conservative government’s response to Covid-19, and its failure to build trust through honest communication
Susan Michie, 65, is a professor of health psychology at University College London and leader of the Human Behaviour Change project funded by the Wellcome Trust. She has been part of the Covid-19 behavioural science team, a sub-group of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). She also sits on the independent Sage committee chaired by Sir David King.
How important was behavioural thinking in the advice given to government by Sage initially. How interested were they in that aspect of the response?
The behavioural science advisory group is more than 30 people from many different disciplinary backgrounds, and types of expertise, many of them world leaders in their areas. We’ve probably published 60 or 70 papers over the past six months. I have to say I haven’t seen very much of that coming through in terms of the government’s response. Certainly not since the “Stay Alert” type messaging. It doesn’t appear to me that they’ve read the advice.