It's a pretty bleak existence but they've bee surrounded by militant Germany, France, and Italy for much of their history. They have forts built into nearly every mountain, compulsory military service and almost as many guns as America. They have been expecting to be overrun for centuries.
That despondence about other human beings and the entire world turns out to have its upside. A new study found that, despite similar risk of infection or illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Swiss have not felt much more distrust in government than a country like Israel - because they had so little already. No wonder the United Nations prefers it there.
In Israel, like most countries, people were worried that their government was not handling things properly. In the US it was the same. We had a CDC that couldn't even tell us until 6 weeks after it was sold that lettuce had E. coli but few really knew how bad the organization had become. There were so few real preventable diseases they could help with that they were manufacturing ones like prediabetes to lobby Congress for more money.
Switzerland did not suffer a similar decline because they more strongly believe in fate - and that their government can't do anything anyway. The fatalistic approach is that the pandemic is unstoppable and that mitigation efforts are pointless. Plus, if COVID-19 didn't get them, third-hand cigarette smoke would. Or non-organic pesticides. Or global warming. So they had little reason to dread a new disease.
Yet that fatalism is a psychological safety net. Higher fatalism was not associated with greater psychological distress, it led to less.
You'd think Israel would have more decline due to fatalism. When the UN created Israel and Palestine in 1948, Arab countries refused to accept the legitimacy of either and Israel has been under constant threat of war and active terrorism since. So COVID-19 was one more thing on top of their usual existence and it's a valid hypothesis that would decrease confidence more than a country like Switzerland. No, the Swiss are so negative they actually had lower baseline positivity so less room to fall.
Oddly, that means the Swiss will have fewer mental health issues due to the pandemic. They are already nihilstic. In 2019 Switzerland was a pretty negative place, and in 2021 it may be again, but for 2020 they get to say 'see, we were right.'
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