By examining how personality traits were associated with adjustment to the COVID pandemic in college students, researchers found that more extroverted people suffered mood declines while more introverted people saw mood improvements during the early COVID-19 pandemic, in survey of students at a U.S. university.
The sample included 484 first-year university students (76% female) attending a northeastern university who completed the Big Five Inventory (BFI) personality assessment at the beginning of a semester that was disrupted by the COVID pandemic.
Using a phone-based app, students completed daily ratings of mood, perceived stress levels, and engagement in a number of health promotion activities (exercise, mindfulness, adequate sleep, etc.) throughout the semester both before and after the onset of the pandemic (e.g., a within-person longitudinal design). Results, as expected, showed that mood and wellness indices generally declined during the COVID period, although stress levels actually decreased.
They also found that higher levels of extraversion, for example, were found to be related to decreases in mood as the pandemic progressed in contrast to those with lower extraversion, for whom there was a slight increase in mood over time. These data support the conclusion that personality traits are related to mental health and can play a role in a person’s ability to cope with major stressful events. Different traits may also be more adaptive to different types of stressors.
Featured image: Phone-based app used in study © Dr. Jim Hudziak
Reference: Rettew DC, McGinnis EW, Copeland W, Nardone HY, Bai Y, Rettew J, et al. (2021) Personality trait predictors of adjustment during the COVID pandemic among college students. PLoS ONE 16(3): e0248895. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0248895 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0248895
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