The covid pandemic may have changed your personality

The covid pandemic may have changed your personality

Among the traces that the pandemic has left in our lives, are those that affect our personality. An American study in psychology shows a rapid change, towards more negativity and stress, in populations of young adults.

The pandemic linked to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is not over yet. We are currently talking about the eighth wave, a figure that makes you dizzy. Between this start of the 2022 school year and March 2020, that is, just two and a half years, the pandemic has left lasting marks. If you are rather young, it is likely that you have even changed your personality.

This is what emerges from a study of 7,109 people and published on September 28, 2022 in the journal PLOS One. It only concerns the US population, but the pandemic is unique in that it has an impact around the world. Its results therefore have a relatively universal scope.

The impact of the pandemic increased in 2021

The authors conclude that the pandemic has had a real impact on our personalities. The finding is surprising: most work in psychology has so far shown that natural disasters were not the cause of a change in such traits in us. But, this short-term resilience seems to be somewhat interrupted by the duration of covid.

Jean Castex on February 4, 2021. // Source: YouTube Government Screenshot
For several months, former Prime Minister Jean Castex spoke every Thursday night. // Source: YouTube Government Screenshot

There was a limited change in personality at the beginning of the pandemic, but profound changes in 2021 “Specify the scientists, in a commentary on their study. Among the effects on personality, they point to a decrease in “sympathy”, extroversion or open-mindedness, and even diligence (attention to things, in terms of responsibility). What increases, instead, is the predisposition to stress and neuroticism (psychological term that can be translated as “negativity”).

“There was a limited change in personality at the beginning of the pandemic, but profound changes in 2021”

This personality transformation takes place especially in young adults, under 30 years of age. It is in this population where it is most significant, with a damaged maturity “, where in the elderly, there is almost no change. This would be due in particular to the disruption of social activities generally associated with this age group.

The changes were about a tenth of a standard deviation, which is equivalent to about a decade of normative personality change. “, also point out the researchers. In other words, what is striking is the speed with which this change is taking place, where it usually takes almost 10 years. However, there are uncertainties about sustainability: it is difficult to know if it is a change that will be maintained in the long term, or that it will only be temporary.

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