COVID-19 and mental health of individuals with different personalities

Proto, E. and Zhang, A. (2021) COVID-19 and mental health of individuals with different personalities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(37), e210928211. (doi: 10.1073/pnas.2109282118) (PMID:34508007)

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Abstract

Several studies have been devoted to establishing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health across gender, age, and ethnicity. However, much less attention has been paid to the differential effect of COVID-19 according to different personalities. We do this using the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), a large-scale panel survey representative of the UK population. The UKHLS allows us to assess the mental health of the same respondent before and during the COVID-19 period based on their "Big Five" personality traits and cognitive skills. We find that during the COVID-19 period, individuals who have more extravert and open personality traits report a higher mental health deterioration, while those scoring higher in agreeableness are less affected. The effect of openness is particularly strong: One more SD predicts up to 0.23 more symptoms of mental health deterioration in the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) test during the COVID-19 period. In particular, for females, cognitive skills and openness are strong predictors of mental health deterioration, while for non-British White respondents, these predictors are extraversion and openness. Neuroticism strongly predicts worse mental health cross-sectionally, but it does not lead to significantly stronger deterioration during the pandemic. The study's results are robust to the inclusion of potential confounding variables such as changes in physical health, household income, and job status (like unemployed or furloughed).

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Understanding Society is an initiative funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and various government departments, with scientific leadership by the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, and survey delivery by NatCen Social Research and Kantar Public.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Proto, Professor Eugenio and Zhang, Dr Anwen
Authors: Proto, E., and Zhang, A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Journal Name:Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
ISSN (Online):1091-6490
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 118(37):e210928211
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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