What is it about?

Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on everyone’s wellbeing, but we have all coped in different ways, in part depending on our personality. Those of us whose stronger personality traits are extraversion and openness have experienced greater declines in mental health; those whose stronger trait is agreeableness have coped better.

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Why is it important?

We examine mental health deterioration before Covid-19 (2017-19) and at different stages of the pandemic (seven different time points from April 2020 to January 2021) for the same individuals, who are representative of the UK population, based on their personality traits measured with “Big Five” factors. While on average mental health has deteriorated for all, varying patterns emerge: in relative terms, people who are extravert and open to new experiences have suffered more mental health symptoms, whereas those who are agreeable have coped better. Mental health has been a prominent issue during Covid-19, and it will remain a key issue for the post-Covid era. The research helps us identify at-risk groups and design more personalised psychological or psychiatric treatments based on a patient’s individual profile. It is also important for understanding the unintended consequences of drastic interventions such as lockdown, and paving the way for more calculated policy measures balancing costs and benefits as we go forward.


As a self-proclaimed extravert and open person, I can say that the findings of this article are perfectly in line with my own personal experiences during lockdown.

Dr Anwen Zhang
University of Glasgow

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: COVID-19 and mental health of individuals with different personalities, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, September 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2109282118.
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