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Mapping the Moods of COVID-19: Global Study Uses Data Visualization to Track Psychological Responses, Identify Targets for Intervention

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Mapping the Moods of COVID-19: Global Study Uses Data Visualization to Track Psychological Responses, Identify Targets for Intervention

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Mapping the Moods of COVID-19: Global Study Uses Data Visualization to Track Psychological Responses, Identify Targets for Intervention
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Mapping the Moods of COVID-19: Global
Study Uses Data Visualization to Track
Psychological Responses, Identify Targets for
Intervention
July 17, 2020
By N. Pontus Leander, Jannis Kreienkamp, and Maximilian Agostini
In March 2020, the fast-spreading coronavirus prompted many countries to go
into lockdown and to take other behavioral measures to flatten the epidemic
curve. People’s adherence to these containment guidelines involve acceptance
of social norms, trust in authority, and personal sacrifice. Such adherence is
challenged by the deprivation of material and psychological needs that such
measures entail, along with the resulting accumulation of psychological strain
(Brooks et al., 2020). Various psychological influences could also work against
effective containment of the virus (Van Bavel et al., 2020). Hence, social science
is critical for understanding responses to COVID-19 and the progression of the
pandemic, especially in the event of a long-term or recurring virus containment
scenario.
Sensing the urgency of the challenge, a collaboration of 100+ researchers
across five continents launched a global study to investigate the psychological
implications of this crisis, including the tensions between following government
policy and meeting the basic needs of autonomy and social connection. We
launched the PsyCorona survey on March 19th, 2020; by the end of May, more
than 60,000 participants had completed the initial, 20-minute survey in 30
languages globally, which included 24 nationally representative samples by age
and gender.
Real-Time Country-Level Data
PsyCorona’s rapid implementation and global scale affords us the ability to
investigate different psychological processes during this critical moment
of societal crisis and change. The ongoing scientific mission is to integrate cross-
cultural, longitudinal, and integrative data science methods to:
Evaluate how COVID-19-relevant beliefs, fears, hopes, motivational states,
and cultural norms predict adherence to social distancing and other health
guidelines;
Monitor various psychological pressures building in society over time,
including frustration and lockdown fatigue, changes in subjective well-being,
and shifts in norms, attitudes, and values; and
Integrate the psychological data with interdisciplinary databases, and use
machine learning models to test how our individual-level psychological
variables relate to regional epidemiological, policy, and demographic
conditions.
Alongside this scientific mission is a crisis-oriented mission to provide information
relevant to the present pandemic. Given that the academic publication process
can be slow, we sought to provide a more immediate way to access portions of
the data. Thus, we built a secure, anonymous, web-based data visualization
tool where visitors can easily examine descriptive statistics and associations
among study variables. While PsyCorona researchers prepare scientific papers
for peer review (e.g., Han et al., 2020; Nisa et al., 2020; Romano et al., 2020),
visitors are welcome to interact directly with country-level data in a manner
consistent with the urgency of the times.
Among other PsyCorona data visualization capabilities, users can see the
prevalence of different emotions respondents reported feeling in the previous
week.
The purpose of this data visualization tool is twofold.
First, it gives our respondents immediate access to the research they participated
in by allowing them to interact with the summary data (e.g., Van der Krieke et al.,
2016); in effect, it serves as a pilot study for how the social sciences can use
data visualization for public engagement.
Second, the data visualization tool serves as a resource for researchers,
policymakers, and analysts to understand how people are feeling, thinking, and
responding to the coronavirus and the extraordinary societal measures taken
against it in their country (or across different countries). Such knowledge could
help to inform strategies to further contain the pandemic as well as to better
coordinate and prepare for future similar events.
As a resource for researchers, policymakers, and analysts, PsyCorona could
help to inform strategies to further contain the pandemic as well as to better
coordinate and prepare for future similar events.
A version of the tool (currently, an interactive public beta) can accessed via our
project website (https://psycorona.org/data/). It focuses exclusively on the cross-
sectional and cross-national data. Users can examine mean differences and
associations between multiple categories of psychological variables, including
virus-relevant beliefs and attitudes, emotions and affect, attitudes towards
government and society, and self-reported behaviors. These variables and others
can also be plotted against each other to visualize their relationships. Users can
also examine and compare different psychological variables within one country,
across multiple countries, or view global averages and trends. In the finalized
version (expected late this summer), users will be able to toggle between viewing
the full sample or only the nationally representative samples, and will also be
able to toggle between examining raw scores or scores that are adjusted for
potential cultural response biases (Gelfand et al., 2002).
The functionality of the data visualization tool is enhanced by the Data Science
Team at the University of Groningen’s Center of Information and Technology.
One plan is to monitor effects over time through the integration of our weekly
longitudinal follow-up survey data. Resources permitting, we also aim to add
state-of-the-art machine learning functions to, for example, identify the strongest
psychological predictors of a given outcome variable. A third possibility is to add
interdisciplinary database integration functions, so that visitors can explore how
regional epidemiological or policy conditions relate to our measured variables.
As with much of the PsyCorona project, the data visualization tool is still in
progress and its final outcome remains to be seen. In the meantime, it offers a
glimpse into a possible future of social science that is publicly accessible,
responsive to public need, and in which scientific data are communicated in a
way that lets users ask their own questions.
References
Brooks, S.K., Webster, R.K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S.,
Greenberg, N. et al. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and
how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. Lancet, 395, 912-920.
https://www.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8
Gelfand, M. J., Raver, J. L., & Ehrhart, K. H. (2002). Methodological issues in
cross-cultural organizational research. Handbook of industrial and
organizational psychology research methods, 216-241.
Han, Q., et al., (2020, June 29). Trust in government and its associations with
health behaviour and prosocial behaviour during the COVID-19
pandemic. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/p5gns
van der Krieke, L., Jeronimus, B. F., Blaauw, F. J., Wanders, R. B., Emerencia,
A. C., Schenk, H. M., … & Bos, E. H. (2016). HowNutsAreTheDutch
(HoeGekIsNL): A crowdsourcing study of mental symptoms and
strengths. International journal of methods in psychiatric research, 25(2),
123-144. https://doi.org/10.1002/mpr.1495
Nisa, C.F., et al. (2020). Perceived economic risk (vs. health risk) motivates
individual efforts to fight COVID-19: A multilevel analysis in 24 countries.
Romano, A., et al. (2020). Cooperation and Trust Across Societies During the
COVID-19 Pandemic.
Van Bavel, J.J., et al. (2020) Using social and behavioural science to support
COVID-19 pandemic response. Nature Human
Behavior. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0884-z
About the authors: Pontus Leander is an associate professor of psychology,
University of Groningen, and is co-director of PsyCorona (psycorona.org). Jannis
Kreienkamp and Maximilian Agostini are PhD students in the Department of
Psychology, University of Groningen; they are co-founders of PsyCorona and
designed the data visualization tool.
Scientific team: Jocelyn J. Bélanger (co-director), Ben Gützkow (co-founder),
Bertus Jeronimus, Anita C. Keller, Maja Kutlaca, Edward Lemay, Wolfgang
Stroebe, Jolien Anne van Breen, Caspar J. Van Lissa, Michelle R. vanDellen;
Georgios Abakoumkin, Jamilah H. B. Abdul Khaiyom, Vjollca Ahmedi, Handan
Akkas, Carlos A. Almenara, Anton Kurapov, Mohsin Atta, Sabahat Cigdem
Bagci, Sima Basel, Edona Berisha Kida, Nicholas R. Buttrick, Phatthanakit
Chobthamkit, Hoon-Seok Choi, Mioara Cristea, Sára Csaba, Kaja Damnjanovic,
Ivan Danyliuk, Arobindu Dash, Daniela Di Santo, Karen M. Douglas, Elissa El
Khawli (co-founder), Violeta Enea, Daiane Gracieli Faller, Gavan Fitzsimons,
Michele J. Gelfand, Alexandra Gheorghiu, Ángel Gómez, Qing Han, Mai Helmy,
Ding-Yu Jiang, Veljko Jovanovic, Željka Kamenov, Anna Kende, Shian-Ling
Keng, Tra Thi Thanh Kieu, Yasin Koc, Catalina Kopetz, Kamila Kovyazina, Inna
Kozytska, Joshua Krause, Arie W. Kruglanski, Nóra Anna Lantos, Cokorda
Bagus Jaya Lesmana, Winnifred R. Louis, Adrian Lueders, Najma Malik, Anton
Martinez, Kira McCabe, Mirra Noor Milla, Idris Mohammed, Erica Molinario,
Manuel Moyano, Hayat Muhammad, Silvana Mula, Hamdi Muluk, Solomiia
Myroniuk, Reza Najafi, Claudia F. Nisa, Boglárka Nyúl, Paul A. O’Keefe, Jose
Javier Olivas Osuna, Evgeny N. Osin, Joonha Park, Gennaro Pica, Antonio
Pierro, Jonas Rees, Anne Margit Reitsema (co-founder), Elena Resta, Marika
Rullo, Michelle K. Ryan, Adil Samekin, Pekka Santtila, Edyta Sasin, Birga
Mareen Schumpe, Heyla A Selim, Michael Vicente Stanton, Samiah Sultana,
Robbie M. Sutton, Eleftheria Tseliou, Akira Utsugi, Anne Marthe van der Bles,
Kees Van Veen, Alexandra Vázquez, Robin Wollast, Victoria Wai-lan Yeung,
Somayeh Zand, Iris Lav Žeželj, Bang Zheng, Andreas Zick, Claudia Zúñiga
Book
Full-text available
Novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) disease (COVID-19) was a major public health emergency and psychosocial shock event that directly or indirectly affected virtually all humans on Earth. The virus emerged around Wuhan in China and spread around the globe over 2020-22 when >16 million (MM) humans died and >70% of humanity had been subjected to social restrictions and societal lockdown. Coronavirus exploited social interaction, urbanization, public transport, and liberalism, and elicited the strongest global economic perturbation in a century (-3% world GDP). In this snapshot of time humans showed emotional, cognitive, physical, social, and societal responses to a pandemic marked by stress, loneliness, polarization, demonstrations, riots and violence, long-Covid, virus mutations, vaccines, and breakthrough infections, conspiracy theories, and individual, sociocultural, and geopolitical changes, including war in Europe, and existential angst due to nuclear threats, and an accelerating climate disaster. The pandemic years 2020-22 were the hardest and most stressful years that most people lived through and influenced a generation of humans. This pandemic was an unique period in time to learn about human psychology and preparedness, as engagement with natural hazards is one master task of civilization. Method: The pandemic is an immensely broad topic and a staggering amount of information became available which inspired me to use the Dutch (NL) mainstream media (MSM) as a lens to study and structure societal responses over 2020-22. These MSM data were enriched with examples and perspectives from Europe and the United States, using a range of academic and government studies. This story was built around five key interests: (a) individual differences in what people felt, thought, did, need, and wanted during the years 2020-2022, in terms of personality differences; (b) which humans coped with the rapid changes in daily rhythms and societal restrictions and who were able to maintain their subjective well-being (resilience); (c) how did human preparedness pan out over 2020-22; and (d) how did a selection of major Dutch MSM reflect on this unfolding Covid pandemic, one of the largest in a century; and (e) how did the pandemic influence human development with a special focus on youth (aged 0-30) and psychology. Results: Globally governments decisions to curb the pandemic were driven by public sentiment rather than ratio, science, and cost-benefit analyses. Public sentiment that shifted like the weather, as citizens proved unpredictable, contradictory, and prone to emotional swings. Most humans tolerated repeated lockdowns over 2020-22 (e.g., 675 days with restrictions in NL), against the pre-Covid social science consensus. Humans grappled with the asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus, the duration and ambiguity of the pandemic (an experience many revisited when Russia invaded the Ukraine), which often sparked a reevaluation of their lives. Humans crafted a societal master narrative to structure their collective understanding of the pandemic and their societal responses, and worked towards an acceptance of their collective vulnerability despite high vaccination rates. Over 2020-22 humans were forced to adjust to a rapidly changing world, and many citizens struggled to return to a normal that was lost. Differences in resilience and adjustment to coronavirus associated with social and financial resources, cognitive ability, risk aversion, values, personality profiles, skills, and contextual differences, such as living in a rich social welfare state, among others. Several countries started with an aim to derive herd immunity while others employed a zero-tolerance strategy that became untenable after the rise of Delta and Omicron variants. One cardinal observation was the lack of human prudence, as humans and governments were astonished when confronted with novel coronavirus, a series of climate disasters, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and showed to be unprepared, despite certainty and clear warning signals that these events were coming. Moreover, many humans and governments continued to be surprised by the second up to sixth waves of Covid-19, often months apart, which illustrates that anticipatory failure was a system feature rather than a bug. In the Netherlands the polarization and loss of government trust was phenomenal (from 80% to 25% of adults) and conspiracy theories affected families and friendships. Citizens entered a prisoners dilemma as those who took part in massive protests, riots, and refused to be vaccinated (~10%), or the many Dutch adults and companies who refused to adhere to even the most basic measures like social distancing (1.5m), testing, quarantining, and a reduction in social contact, enjoyed their freedom at the expense of healthcare workers, many disable people, and people in need of intensive hospital treatment, and prolonged social restrictions for everyone. Conclusion: Coronavirus was a risk multiplier that helped identify specific human weaknesses, from their hubris and lack of prudence to poor societal and international synchronization. MSM described how human irrationality, naivety, ignorance, complacency, hubris, immoderation, recklessness, callousness, self-centeredness, hostility, and greed, gave rise to many of the suffering and catastrophes over 2020-22, including the spread of Covid-19, the rapidly accelerating climate disaster, and the Russian-Ukrainian war. Pandemic studies also highlighted human flexibility and positive capacities, such as the courage of health workers, the key role of family and friends in human health and well-being and the many relationships that deepened, and rapid advances in public medicine and health. Political, social and healthcare systems must adapt to handle the rapidly changing circumstances and threats due to coronavirus and other documented geopolitical and climatic stressors, which affected all humans. The coronavirus pandemic impacted on youth development over 2020-21 but it remains to be seen whether youth collectively remain to be slightly more insecure, introverted, risk aversive, and collectivistic, compared to previous cohorts. The coronavirus pandemic was a symptom of a rapidly changing climate that stared humanity in the face in terms of an unprecedented series of extreme heat waves, wildfires, floods, droughts, famine, and hurricanes over 2020-22, and the ongoing (sixth) global mass extinction event, all human made; a species both astonishing powerful and stupid. Humans must take stock of the lessons learned over 2020-22 and aim for prudence and collaboration across borders to successfully navigate the next two centuries and flourish, as many alarm bells were ringing.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.