Campus News

Associate professor shares how the pandemic changed people’s personalities

Brian Haas, an associate professor in behavioral and brain science in the psychology department of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, said people’s personalities might not be the same after the pandemic, according to News Tribune.

“There’s quite a lot of evidence in the last couple of decades that personality is something that’s dynamic, changeable, malleable, and that there are a lot of different factors that influence that change,” said Maas. “People express their personality differently according to different contexts and situations. So, there’s a growing consensus in the field of personality research that this notion of personality being really enduring, and concrete is not really the case.”

A new study found that there were declines in openness, extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness compared to personality traits surveyed before the pandemic.

Haas was not involved in the study but said that culture plays a major factor in some of these personality traits.

“There is quite a bit of variation in the expression of personality traits, according to cultural contexts. People think about how solid or changeable their personality is differentially according to culture,” said Haas. “In the United States, it’s highly valued to stick to your guns, in a sense, and be the same person according to different stages of life and different social contexts. But in other places, for example, in Japan or other East Asian cultures, it’s more accepted to express yourself differently. And to be a different person according to different times of life or different social situations.”

The personality changes are a potential source of worry for brain researchers. In general, personality change can be an indicator of a decrease in well-being.

“In the United States, people that change their personality tend to exhibit lower amounts of well-being and life satisfaction as compared to those that do not change their personality,” Haas said.