Conspiracy theories and home office: This is how Germany ticks in the crisis

Demonstrators at a so-called hygiene demo in Stuttgart.

Demonstrators at a so-called hygiene demo in Stuttgart.


Hardly anyone knows the Germans as well as Stephan Grünewald. The psychologist is the founder of the Rheingold market research institute. In in-depth interviews, he tries to find out with his colleagues what makes Germany tick and what makes Germans tick. Even in the Corona crisis, he notices how attitudes change – some also permanently, as he says. Thuringia and Saxony want to relax the restrictions comprehensively, restaurants fill up, travel will soon be possible again. Is the Corona crisis over in the minds of the Germans?

Stephan Grünewald: We notice a strong polarization on this question. Some of the people have settled down in the Corona Sabbatical. These are the people who are well looked after: civil servants, students, short-time workers with secure employment. Another part of the population lives in limbo, for example parents who have to manage their home office and childcare and who may be afraid of existence. This group of course pushes outside again and wants more to be opened. The crisis is still very real for these people.

The psychologist Stephan Grünewald.

The psychologist Stephan Grünewald.


Many people are currently discovering
Decelerate and enjoy more time for yourself and the family. It will
we stay a little longer or we turn back faster than expected
usual hamster wheel?

Many are experiencing
that less can be more. You want to continue doing your home office, less
work and make the life circle more contemplative. Many will too
last for a long time.

What are the consequences?

Consumer fields are completely reorganized. In a small group you just don’t want to make a big appearance: fashion and cosmetics are not at the top of the list. It’s more about beautifying your own cosmos, your own home. We pass out against the virus – but in the hardware store we can arm ourselves with drills, nails, hammers. Do-it-yourself stimulates energy, gives us back control or pride and beautifies our little private nest.

Retreating into private means
also a departure from the outside world. Are we becoming more suspicious of the stranger?

Yes, that is quite conceivable. Not
only the virus comes from abroad, every other person we meet can
potentially infecting us too. And also the mask as protection against others
infect, looks strange and threatening.

We Germans are yes
actually very keen to travel. Are we now longing for the distance?

That will only come back step by step. This year, many may prefer to relax within Germany for now. But we Germans are often very structured and formalistic, which is why we long for the easier and more sensual way of life in the South. In the long term, we can only endure with ourselves if we sometimes look for space.

The Germans are also said to
that they insist on compliance. Politicians are criticized
Because they break the rules, people call the police when neighbors
violate the contact restriction. Does the crisis make us more suspicious?

There are people for whom
Shaking hands, small talk or closeness to others were a burden anyway. The
are very happy about the distance requirements and develop one in the crisis
Block attendant mentality, which is sometimes aggressive when someone is in their
Spellmile penetrates.

The Corona crisis was by no means the one
first crisis in previous years, before that there was the financial crisis
Euro debt crisis, the refugee crisis, there is also the climate crisis. The sequence
is feeling ever denser. What does it do to us?

In view of this constant fire of crises, Germany is trying to pretend that we live in a kind of floodplain, with good health care and low unemployment. Everything else is then the gray country that we keep away from us and that we don’t even want to think about. We tried to get stuck in a permanent presence. It was, of course, an illusion that this would succeed in the long term.

What is different about this crisis?

The corona crisis is intervening massively
our everyday life. Even the refugee crisis remained vague
A sense of threat, even though people will actually be at our door at some point
stood. This time we feel the restrictions very strongly by using masks
have to wear, many places were closed, we do not visit relatives
could. This applied to everyone: poor and rich, in the country and in the city. Therefore
there was great agreement at the very beginning of the crisis.

It’s gone now.

Yes, there is one now
Polarization. Between cautious and freedom advocates, between
Health and economy, between the federal states. In this phase
envy structures and rivalries grow. So it’s hard for the government
to keep the rule of the population.

Some people even have doubts
everything the government says and turn to conspiracy theories. What
is going on in these people?

This is not surprising, after all we are all raised to be conspiracy theorists. In childhood there is the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Santa Claus, who is held responsible for many things. It is an emancipatory act to recognize that there are no higher powers, but that we are responsible for our own actions. It is even more difficult to accept that the world is sometimes completely beyond human control – for example in the form of a virus.

A small minority refuses
State out, others seem happy about the numerous help. We see
one of the worst economic crises of the past decades, but the
Government gives the impression: The state catches everyone
Short-time work allowance or state aid. Is the expression of a new one
State Belief?

We had public belief right at the beginning of the crisis. We have adopted the attitude of a child who feels threatened and seeks protection through the authority of the Father State – first health protection, then economic protection. In the meantime, we are taking a step towards democratic maturity and are also questioning measures.

We also look at new heroes
on: doctors, cashiers and truck drivers. We have a longing for

Not necessarily after heroes, but
for guardian angels. Because it’s a comforting feeling that there’s someone there
who takes care of us, makes us healthy and cares for us.

We even donate to these people

Indeed, but get rid of it
we also feel guilty. Because for some, the crisis means
Deceleration. Exactly those realize, however, that others to the edge of the
Exhaustion must work. The clapping is like a psychological one

Economy is 50 percent
Psychology, Ludwig Erhardt is said to have said. Where do you have to start so that it
running again?

You have a mood of optimism
create that encourages change and arouses the desire to consume.
Consumption is also an expression of joie de vivre. It is currently not coming up, too
because this whole situation has something senseless: masks, disinfectants,
Distance regulations. What we need is new confidence.

This is how you can react when conspiracy theories become a problem in your family


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