People’s personalities could have been altered by the deep impact of the Covid pandemic, new research suggests.

Despite previous research into stressful events including natural disasters, scientists have failed to find a correlation between such events and personality changes. However, the prolonged impact of the coronavirus pandemic appears to have had a significant impression.

The Understanding America Study, led by Prof Angelina Sutin of Florida State University College of Medicine used assessment of personality from 7,109 people.

Participants aged between 18 and 109 took tests pre-pandemic, early in the pandemic and later. They were given a widely used personality test to measure five traits - neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

Covid personality changes

The research found younger adults seemed to be affected with changes including:

  • Becoming moodier
  • More prone to stress
  • Less cooperative and trusting
  • Less restrained and responsible

Prof Angelina Sutin told The Guardian: “Younger adults became moodier and more prone to stress, less cooperative and trusting, and less restrained and responsible.”

Sutin said younger adults seem to be more affected: “Although the pandemic was stressful for everyone, it disrupted the normative tasks of younger adulthood, such as school and the transition into the workforce and being sociable and developing relationships.

 “It is speculative because we did not measure reasons for the change, but this disruption may have had a larger impact on younger adults because these tasks are very important for this age group.”

The findings were published in the Plos One journal.