COVID-19 likely to have caused personality changes

October 19, 2022
COVID-19 likely to have caused personality changes

The coronavirus (COVID-19 pandemic affected every corner of the globe and upended life as we knew it – a new study suggests the lasting effects of the pandemic included personality changes across the US, especially in younger adults. Although previous studies have found no associations between large-scale stressful events and personality change, the latest data begs to differ.

A team of researchers led by Angelina Sutin of Florida State University College of Medicine, studied the personality traits of over 7,100 people enrolled in the online Understanding America Study. Traits including neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, were compared according to set durations before (May 2014 – February 2020), early- (March – December 2020) and late (2021 – 2022) in the pandemic.

While there were relatively few changes between pre-pandemic and 2020 personality traits, with only a small decline in neuroticism, there were marked declines in extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness when 2021-2022 data was compared to pre-pandemic personality.

The changes were equivalent to about one decade of normative personality change, with the younger adults showing disrupted maturity in the form of increased neuroticism and decreased agreeableness and conscientiousness, and the oldest group of adults showing no statistically significant changes in traits.

“There was limited personality change early in the pandemic but striking changes starting in 2021 […] younger adults became moodier and more prone to stress, less cooperative and trusting, and less restrained and responsible,” the researchers mention, adding that enduring changes in population-wide stressful events can alter personality, especially in younger adults.

Category: Education, Features

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