What is it about?

There is growing awareness in psychology that many of our mental processes are unguided. In this study, we examined whether and how much people experienced memories and future thoughts that came to mind in one of the most stressful global situations in recent times: The Covid-19 pandemic.

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Why is it important?

We showed that negative unguided or 'spontaneous' thoughts about the past and future related to the pandemic popped into people's minds quite frequently during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was consistent across the 14 countries we examined, and shows the effect of the pandemic on pandemic-related spontaneous thoughts. We also showed that national context (in particular, COVID regulations) predicted the frequency of people’s spontaneous thoughts about the pandemic.


In many ways this article shows some of the benefits that we saw through a very stressful global period. In an unpredictable time, researchers across the world came together and worked on a project to explore the psychological effects of the pandemic. The internet was a big part of making this happen -specificaly video calls! Personally, it was great to meet colleagues from different cultures and learn something through interacting with, what I hope to be, new collaborators for years to come!

Scott Cole
York St John University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Spontaneous past and future thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic across 14 countries: Effects of individual and country-level COVID-19 impact indicators., Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, October 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/mac0000071.
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