How Different Personality Types Deal with COVID-19

Social distancing reminder sign at a local store

Social distancing reminder sign at a local store

Myles Gulrajani-Brown, Journalist

     To say COVID-19 has affected our entire lives and how we live them would be an understatement. Even living through the pandemic, there are millions of people that can account for all of the challenges and barriers that COVID has created for billions of people all across the world. As Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases described that the virus will be “imprinted on the personality of our nation for a very long time.” It would be foolish to assume only our schedules have changed during this pandemic, as COVID has changed so many things for everyone around the globe. Those changes aren’t just on the outside but on the inside in our brains and the human psyche. 

    Although there are countless scientific studies during the pandemic that have probed us about how our brains and minds might be processing the sheer overload of information we are facing daily, there isn’t just one answer to how COVID has changed us because the human psyche differs from person to person. Within the many personality types, some are more anxious and some are down to earth and chill, and some might need extra support in these strange times. Research over the last decade has shown and came to the most general conclusion that although personality traits are usually stable, they are not completely set in stone for your entire life. Instead of this, personality traits evolve through the process of your whole life based on your experiences, the people around you, and the choices that you make.

     It’s safe to say that the human population will have gone through some sort of personality change, but whether that is a permanent or temporary one remains to be seen. People feel that there are two sides to this quarantine coin, although these are very trying times for many people there are benefits to social distancing and isolation. Just take Riley Larkin, an Evergreen State college student, stating “honestly, I love my new schedule, I hated waking up and going to school for six hours five days a week whereas now, I get a healthy amount of sleep, I eat actual food and I have gained some healthy weight.” This quarantine hasn’t ruined everything, for many like Larkin, it has given them opportunities they never thought would be possible. There are plenty of people who have been able to focus on the extra time alone and how it’s made them feel more energetic and excited. The question is whether this is permanently changing their opinions, and all signs point to no, although people are given extra space and more time to focus on projects and sleeping in that doesn’t point to whole personalities changing, they’re merely evolving with the given circumstances. What we are seeing right now are the disruption of countless people’s well-adjusted routines and comfort zones. Some see this as a positive sign, a chance to enjoy time at home with loved ones and a perfect breeding ground for creativity like resident Chemistry teacher and marathon extraordinaire Mr. Stevik, with the social distancing providing ample time for “projects and activities around the house.” 

     The thing with experiences like the pandemic is that not everyone has the same cheery outlook on it. In these circumstances, people just want to be free and live their lives without any restrictions. People with more outgoing personality types could be in their own personal hell during this time. Those that enjoy eating out with the family, going to baseball games, or just hanging out with their friends. These people aren’t given these moments of social interaction that they would normally hold dear, resulting in feelings of despair and loneliness. People like OHS’ very own Catherine Saval feels like the “lockdown has actually increased some aspects of my social anxiety, where I feel pressured to hang out with friends (either social-distanced or even just responding to texts) because I feel as though I ‘owe’ it to them. I don’t want anyone to feel alone and I feel guilty for declining to hang out with people, but at the same time, I just need some space to figure out how I’m feeling.” This is a very real problem for many students, teachers, and people alike. The increase in isolation and time spent at home has resulted in plenty of people like Saval feeling a general sense of loneliness and lethargy. This has allowed many introverts to avoid the social pressures of the outside world, that of which is so common. This could make re-entry into the normal world once quarantine is lifted more difficult. 

     For many, it’s suggested from these people and their experiences that there will be very little change in actual concrete personality. During this time the people’s personalities have evolved to suit the pandemic but that doesn’t mean we won’t revert to pre-pandemic ideals. It’s best not to worry about the ability to adjust once lockdown measures have been lifted, for many the change will come gradually and naturally once the environmental pressures change. If anything, the advice of Rodica Damian, a scientist from the Personality Development and Success Laboratory at the University of Houston, is to not rush back to our old ways. She elaborates with “I think that people have adjusted their pre-lockdown behaviors too quickly, so I wouldn’t recommend the rest of the world follow suit right now.” Like people’s personalities, no one’s own personal experiences with lockdown are going to be the same. They are constantly changing but it is not wise to claim if personalities do or do not change because there are so many wildly different experiences.