The COVID-19 pandemic appears to produce personality changes, particularly in younger persons, according to the findings of a study team that was directed by academics from the College of Medicine at Florida State University.
According to the findings of this study, which were published in PLOS ONE, the population-wide stressor of the pandemic caused younger individuals to have more negative moods, to be more prone to stress, to be less cooperative and trustworthy, and to have less self-control and responsibility.
Angelina Sutin, a professor in the college’s Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine and the study’s lead author, stated that “we do not yet know whether these changes are temporary or will be lasting, but if they do persist, they could have long-term implications.” This was said by Angelina Sutin.
In the latter phases of the pandemic, the alterations that occurred in younger individuals (research participants younger than 30) indicated disturbed maturity, as seen by increased neuroticism and reduced agreeableness and conscientiousness. This was seen in younger adults. Alterations were also seen in persons whose ages ranged from 30 to 64 years, although no statistically significant shifts were seen in adults whose ages were more than 64.
Previous research provided support for the long-standing hypothesis that environmental pressures have a relatively minor effect on personality. However, the findings of this study indicate that a global stress event can affect personality in ways that more localised crisis events, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, generally do not.
Researchers compared the five-factor model personality characteristics of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness by using longitudinal evaluations of personality from 7,109 participants who were participated in the online Understanding America Study. Pre-pandemic (May 2014–February 2020), early pandemic (March–December 2020), and late pandemic (after December 2020) were the time periods that were assessed (2021-2022).
The research revealed a very limited number of differences between pre-pandemic and early pandemic evaluations, with just a little decrease in neuroticism being seen. However, when the data from before the pandemic was compared to the data from 2021-2022, there were decreases in extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The alterations amounted to around one tenth of a standard deviation, which is approximately comparable to one decade’s worth of typical personality development.
The National Institute on Aging, which is a division of the National Institutes of Health, provided financial backing for the study in the form of a grant.
Assistant Professor Martina Luchetti, post-doctoral researchers Damaris Aschwanden and Amanda A. Sesker, and Professor Antonio Terracciano from the Department of Geriatrics all worked at the College of Medicine at Florida State University and contributed to the study as co-authors. In addition, academics from the University of Michigan and the University of Montpelier contributed to the study as co-authors.