Podcast: The psychology of uncertainty and talking to kids about COVID-19

03 April 2020

In this episode, we discuss how policymakers and individuals can manage uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic, plus how best to speak to children about the virus and its impacts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created huge amounts of uncertainty for people across the globe, in both their personal and professional lives. But how can governments and experts communicate effectively to reduce people’s anxiety around these kinds of upheavals? What can individuals do to cope with this uncertainty? And how can parents talk to their children about the crisis in an age-appropriate way? In this episode, we talk to Professor Michael Smithson about the psychology of uncertainty in the pandemic, before Nicola Palfrey joins us to discuss how adults can talk about COVID-19 with children.

Professor Michael Smithson is a Professor and Associate Director (Research) in the Research School of Psychology at ANU and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He received his PhD from the University of Oregon and his primary research interests are in judgment and decision making under uncertainty, statistical methods for the social sciences, and applications of fuzzy set theory to the social sciences.

Nicola Palfrey is Operations and Research Manager at The Australian National University Medical School and Director of the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss, and Grief Network. She is also a clinical psychologist and a Churchill Fellow.

Martyn Pearce is a presenter for Policy Forum Pod and the Editor of Policy Forum.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36

Lifeline and Beyond Blue also both have information specifically for looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Policy Forum Pod is available on Acast, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Subscribe on Android or wherever you get your podcasts. We’d love to hear your feedback for this podcast series! Send in your questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes to You can also Tweet us @APPSPolicyForum or join us on the Facebook group.

Filed under:

Updated:  18 July 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team