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Missouri Southern State University logo

David Bird

Sociology Major
Social Sciences Category


My name is David Bird and I’m a senior student at MSSU. My major is sociology with a minor in history. My wife and I have two children below the ages of three, which means I always have an attentive audience to practice my speeches for. My future goals for the short term are to move my family to Australia and go on to further education. My long-term goals are to become a professor in a higher education setting. Wherever my future takes me, I plan on using the knowledge I’ve gained to understand the world and our social spheres within it.   


During the early months of 2020, a mounting sense of angst over COVID-19 slowly crept into the broad collective conscience. In early February, unverified rumors on social media sites sparked an isolated spree of panic buying in several Hong Kong supermarkets. One month later, millions of people around the world struggled to find enough toilet paper and cleaning supplies to stock their homes. Driven largely by social media, waves of millions of people flooded stores in search of essential supplies, causing a temporary shortage of toilet paper in many countries. Was this massive social episode a demonstration of collective behavior?  

Stressors such as COVID19 and fears of supply shortages created a form of structural strain within the group. In response, a generalized belief was formed by the group in order to deal with the stressors. Minimal social controls, compounded by the dissemination of false information via social media, allowed for the mobilization of participants, culminating in millions of people buying up large quantities of essential supplies. By using Smelser’s Value-Added theory, we can successfully establish the presence of collective behavior in this instance. 

Poster Presentation