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A Harvard psychologist explains the rise in passengers getting violent on airplanes and customers abusing retail workers: People have reached 'a boiling point'

A Harvard psychologist explains the rise in passengers getting violent on airplanes and customers abusing retail workers: People have reached 'a boiling point'

Passengers board an American Airlines flight from California to North Carolina.
Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images




Passenger violence on airplanes is spiking and retail workers are experiencing customer harassment.




Fear and anxiety activates the fight-or-flight part of our brain, a Harvard psychologist said.




Now, after a year and a half of being on edge, many people are reaching a "boiling point."




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Violence on airplanes is spiking. Retail and fast-food workers say they're being harassed and assaulted. And small business owners report experiencing frustrated customers whose patience has evaporated. All of this behavior is the result of a year and a half of fear and anxiety, according to Luana Marques, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "We've been skating thin ice in the past year, and if the weight [becomes] too much, the ice cracks. I think that's what we're seeing," she said.

'Everybody's just always mad'

In 2020, retail workers were called "heroes" and "essential" as they worked to supply meals or groceries amid a harrowing pandemic.
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