Health and wellbeing are experiencing a “new normal” as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. With the help of this feature series, readers will be able to take charge of their emotional and mental well-being.
According to earlier research, neuroticism decreased in the early phases of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. These shifts in neuroticism were transient, according to a recent study that was published in PLOS One, and they returned to normal later in the pandemic in 2021–2022.
As the COVID-19 epidemic progressed in 2021–2022, other personality qualities like conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness, and extraversion decreased.
The study discovered that younger people were more vulnerable to changes in personality traits during the pandemic, indicating a disturbance in the process of personality development and maturity that typically takes place in early adulthood.
Five-factor personality model
A popular model that characterizes personality based on the existence of five general features is the five-factor model of personality. The following five personality traits are included in the model:
The propensity for gregarious, vivacious, and aggressive actions is known as extraversion. A propensity for excessive and ongoing pessimism and anxiety is known as neuroticism.
Conscientiousness is the inclination to be well-organized, disciplined, accountable, and diligent.
Consistency: a propensity to be kind, amiable, cooperative, and reliable Openness: the inclination to be inquisitive, creative, and receptive.
Over the course of an adult’s life, these personality traits largely remain unchanged by individual experiences. Previous research has demonstrated that as people age, their personality features tend to slightly alter. In particular, conscientiousness and agreeableness tend to progressively rise with age, while neuroticism, extraversion, and openness tend to progressively decline.
Despite being thought of as typically stable, many personality qualities can be influenced by traumatic or stressful personal experiences.
Unlike other natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic has a global impact and influences every element of life. According to earlier research, neuroticism decreased in 2020 during the early or acute phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Anecdotal data also indicates that during the early stages of the epidemic, many people who are typically more neurotic and have greater anxiety levels had decreased anxiety levels.
On the other hand, the evidence on the pandemic’s effect on other personality traits is sparse and inconsistent. Furthermore, information regarding the pandemic’s effects on personality traits after 2020 is scarce.
Alterations in personality characteristics:
The pandemic period covered by the researchers’ present study was divided into two phases: the acute phase, which ran from March 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020, and the adaptive phase, whichh ran from January 1, 2021, to February 16, 2022. 7,109 UAS participants who had finished at least one personality test prior to the pandemic and another during the acute or adaptive phases of the pandemic were included in the study.
The researchers discovered that neuroticism dropped during the pandemic’s acute phase in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic values.
Qualities of personality within subgroups:
In order to investigate the variations in personality traits among various age and ethnic/racial groups, the researchers further examined the data In 2020, participants 65 years of age and above showed the greatest reduction in neuroticism, followed by those in the medium age range (30-64 years). Nevertheless, throughout the acute phase, the decrease in neuroticism among younger participants—those under the age of thirty—did not become statistically significant.
Interestingly, compared to before the epidemic, younger persons displayed higher levels of neuroticism in 2021–2022. While younger and middle-aged participants showed lower levels of the four remaining personality qualities in 2021–2022, the loss in agreeableness and conscientiousness was more pronounced in the younger group. On the other hand, older people’s levels of conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, and openness.