The pandemic changed almost everything in our lives, how we work, how our children are educated, how we shop, how we visit a doctor, how we socialize, etc., etc.
But the pandemic has also changed something else: You, yes you. Scientists have been researching and publishing papers on the way you and all of us have changed.
One of the latest studies suggests that our very personalities have changed.
Researchers from Florida State University College of Medicine compared pre-pandemic data versus later data. They found personality changes equal to the typical amount of personality change normally found in a decade of life - not 2 years. And they occurred across race and education levels.
Between the first stages of pandemic lockdown in 2020 to the second and third years of the pandemic in 2021 and 2022, the researchers found that extroversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness all declined across the population, but especially for younger adults, who also showed an increase in neuroticism.
In some ways, that's the opposite of what should happen as we grow and mature, explains one of the study authors Angelina Sutin, Ph.D., a behavioral sciences and social medicine professor at Florida State University College of Medicine. That institution's paper calls it "disrupted maturity." Usually, neuroticism goes down, and agreeableness and conscientiousness go up.
"In young adults, we found the exact opposite pattern," Sutin says. Middle-aged adults also saw a decline in agreeableness and conscientiousness, although the oldest adults saw no significant changes
"Having a worldwide pandemic was a stressor that affected everyone in some way," Sutin says. "There has not been an event like that in modern time, in modern psychology, that we could look at that disrupted all of society."
"The pandemic has been this ongoing threat," Sutin says. "It's hard to have gone through this experience and not been changed in some way."
Taking advantage of a pre-pandemic study on personal space, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital recruited people for a new study after the pandemic began. They found that, on average, territorial space needs increased by 45%, from 2 to 3 feet to 3 to 4 feet.
The pandemic, by trapping us indoors and keeping us close to our screens, may have sped up a rise in nearsightedness, or myopia, especially among young children. That's when you can see things up close but struggle to view objects far away. The fix is simple: glasses. But if myopia worsens too quickly, it can increase the risk of retinal detachment and glaucoma, which can lead to permanent blindness.
Amid the disruption and isolation, the pandemic may have helped us focus on what's most important. Engagements, career shifts, and moves all spiked. Job loss and furloughs encouraged many to reconsider their careers, prompting an unprecedented high in U.S. resignations. Inflation forced some to rethink their spending. A Capital One survey found 58% of those surveyed have completely changed how they think about money due to the pandemic.
Going out and socializing significantly changed during the pandemic. Since we had to stay away from loved ones and friends, we turned to technology to stay connected. Consequently, even for those relationships we can now connect with in person quite easily, video calls remain high and are expected to stay.
With lockdowns behind us, opportunities for in-person socializing with friends and family are seemingly unrestricted. Even so, many of us have realized that standing in rooms crowded with strangers isn't as fun as we once thought.
Most LBE customers are not the same people they were in 2019. That means what might be required to attract them to visit an LBE today is different than it was in 2019.