Did the COVID-19 pandemic lead to changes in our personality traits?


The COVID-19 pandemic has set the tone for a “new normal” of health and well-being. This feature series aims to empower readers to take control of their mental and emotional health.

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  • The major personality traits are considered to remain relatively stable over most of a person’s adult life but can be influenced by stressful personal events.
  • A recent study found changes in the expression of personality traits during the COVID-19 pandemic in a nationally representative sample.
  • The findings suggest that younger people were more susceptible to changes in personality traits, showing a decline in conscientiousness, agreeableness, and an increase in neuroticism.
  • These results suggest that, in addition to stressful personal events, global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially lead to changes in personality traits.

Previous studies have shown that levels of neuroticism declined during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. A new study published in PLOS OneTrusted Source found that these changes in neuroticism were short-lived and normalized later in the pandemic in 2021-2022.

However, other personality traits such as agreeableness, openness, extraversion, and conscientiousness declined during the later stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021-2022.The study found that younger individuals were especially susceptible to changes in personality traits during the pandemic, suggesting a disruption of the personality development and maturation process that normally occurs during young adulthood.

Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Brent Roberts, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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