Triple contagion: A two-fears epidemic model

Joshua M. Epstein, Erez Hatna, Jennifer Crodelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a differential equations model in which contagious disease transmission is affected by contagious fear of the disease and contagious fear of the control, in this case vaccine. The three contagions are coupled. The two fears evolve and interact in ways that shape distancing behaviour, vaccine uptake, and their relaxation. These behavioural dynamics in turn can amplify or suppress disease transmission, which feeds back to affect behaviour. The model reveals several coupled contagion mechanisms for multiple epidemic waves. Methodologically, the paper advances infectious disease modelling by including human behavioural adaptation, drawing on the neuroscience of fear learning, extinction and transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210186
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number181
StatePublished - Aug 4 2021


  • behaviour
  • dynamical systems
  • epidemic modelling
  • neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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