As scientists continue to study the overall and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are discovering some interesting things. Recently, a new study found that the pandemic has significantly impacted people’s mental health more than previously thought. This particular study focused on how the pandemic had changed core personality traits that were usually considered to be permanent.
How Core Personality Traits Are Defined
It’s generally accepted that your core personality traits develop and change as you age but become fairly cemented during young adulthood.
Experts use what is known as a five-factor model of personality to categorize these traits and how they relate to actions or feelings. They’re broken down as:
- Extraversion — this typically relates to outgoing, energetic, and assertive behaviors
- Neuroticism — this typically relates to persistent and excessive pessimism and anxiety
- Conscientiousness — this typically relates to being organized, self-disciplined, responsible, and hard-working
- Agreeableness — this typically relates to being empathetic, friendly, compliant, and trustworthy
- Openness — this typically relates to being curious, imaginative, and open-minded
Since the model was created, it was widely shown and accepted that personality traits remain fairly stable over time regardless of personal experiences.
At most, you might have a slight increase in conscientiousness and agreeableness as well as a decrease in neuroticism, openness, and extraversion.
What Happened During The Pandemic?
When conducting their study, researchers found that people were experiencing significant shifts in their personality traits during the pandemic. This development was interesting because there is little evidence of this happening before.
In fact, a study was conducted after a major earthquake and the results showed that there were no notable shifts in their traits afterward.
While there are plans to investigate further, the researchers surmise that these personality changes may have occurred because of the length of the pandemic and other negative outcomes associated with it such as the loss of loved ones, health scares, job loss, etc.
Who Was Affected?
According to the study, older adults were hit the hardest at the start of the pandemic. That demographic included