Has covid-19 INFLUENCED PERSONALITY ASSESSMENT RESULTS?
It is sobering to recall that it was back in March 2019 that much of the world went into some form of lockdown. Over a year later many of us still experience Covid-19 restrictions designed to reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.
I was asked recently by a client with whom we are using the Hogan Personality Assessments whether I thought Covid-19, having to work from home, social distancing etc would have an impact on a person’s personality and therefore the assessment results. For those who are not familiar with the Hogan Assessments, they are one of the most widely used and respected assessments in the business world.
I thought this was a great question and went exploring for answers. In general, our personalities do not change over time and not influenced by external events, such as a pandemic. Rather, our personality influences how we might react or cope with the challenges that may emerge. This has been confirmed by Hogan themselves. In their “The Science of Personality Podcast” they were not able to find a statistically significant shift in in assessment results pre and post Covid-19.
AND WHAT ABOUT PERSONALITY INFLUENCING RESPONSES TO COVID-19?
If Covid-19 does not change our personality, does our personality influence how we might have responded or coped with the pandemic? Do individual differences in general patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours (i.e. personality) contribute to how people respond and behave during a pandemic? A great question which sent us off into the research.
SPOILER ALERT: The answer is yes!
We found that few studies examined the link between personality, personality models and health behaviours during a pandemic, although the number of studies focused on COVID-19 is rapidly increasing (Aschwanden et. al., 2021)
Before sharing our findings, we did hold a few assumptions and hypothesise about some of the Hogan Assessment profile scales. For example:
- Adjustment, which is closely linked to the Big 5 measure of neuroticism, looks at ability to cope with pressure and dealing with stressful situations. Those with lower adjustment scores are more likely to be anxious about the changes going on around them and loss of control. Further, the same people may be more worried than others about being infected.
- Prudence measures the degree to which a person seems conscientious, dependable and rule abiding. We might assume that those who report high on prudence are more likely to monitor their behaviour and stick to Covid-19 rules.
- Hogan’s Sociability scale measures the degree to which a person seems to need or enjoy social interaction. Here we assumed that those who report high on sociability may struggle with being forced to work from home or live with a curfew restricting opportunities for social interaction.
Turning to the research, we were not able to find articles that have explored the impact of personality & Covid-19 through the lens of the Hogan Assessments. Thus, we have used the Big 5 as a proxy. The most interesting research we found was by Aschwanden D. et. al.(2021) and Al-Omiri et. al. (2021) where they looked at emotional impact and behavioural response. Their research found that:
- Individuals high in neuroticism (or adjustment) reported more concerns and were pessimistic about the pandemic. However, they did not take extra precautions as might have been expected.
- Individuals high in conscientiousness (prudence) took more precautions to avoid catching the coronavirus. Another study by Rammstedt et. al (2021) found a correlation between conscientiousness and behaviour change.
The graphic to the left nicely summarises the relationship between neuroticism, conscientiousness and taking precautions.
Interestingly, those with high extraversion (sociability) were more optimistic about the impact of the pandemic mainly driven by the facet of energy level. We also know that online shopping boomed during lock down. Previous work found a positive association between extraversion and this kind of consumption (Matzler, Wurtele, & Renzl, 2006).
What else influences responses and behaviours?
What is important to note are other factors that have influenced behaviour and responses to the current pandemic. For example, age and pre-existing health conditions. Those who are older or have existing health issues were likely to take more precautions and change behaviour more than those with the same personality results.
Two other interesting findings reported by Volk et. al. (2021) were that that “wealthier individuals have more available options for support, including social and emotional support”. As such financial resources afford individuals the time and the means to connect with those close to them resulting a less of a sense of isolation. Secondly, individuals with more children tended to make greater use of avoidance strategies such as consuming more alcohol. This result could reflect that parents with more children have greater demands on their time and their emotional and financial resources.
Finally, Catalyst (2020) research found that the impact of Covid-19 is falling more heavily on women, people of colour and indigenous populations.
Based on our combination of unscientific musing and cursory research, we agree with the conclusions of Al-Omiri et. al. that “Personality factors were associated with COVID-19-related impacts. These findings demonstrate the importance of the relationship between personality factors and COVID-19-related changes.”
Al-Omiri, M., Alzoubi, I., Al Nazeh, A., Alomiri, A., Maswady, M., Lynch, E. (2021) “COVID-19 and Personality: A Cross-Sectional Multicenter Study of the Relationship Between Personality Factors and COVID-19-Related Impacts, Concerns, and Behaviors”. https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.608730
Aschwanden D, Strickhouser JE, Sesker AA, et al. Psychological and behavioural responses to Coronavirus disease 2019: The role of personality. European Journal of Personality. 2021;35(1):51-66. doi:10.1002/per.2281
Catalyst (2020), “The Detrimental Impact of Covid-19 on Gender and Racial Equality: Quick Take”. https://www.catalyst.org/research/covid-effect-gender-racial-equality/
Hogan Assessments: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/covid-personality-a-year-later/id1517116280?i=1000516047402
Matzler K., Wurtele A., Renzl B. (2006). Dimensions of price satisfaction: A study in the retail banking industry. International Journal of Bank Marketing, 24, 216–231. https://doi.org/10.1108/02652320610671324
Rammstedt B, Lechner CM, Weiß B. Does personality predict responses to the COVID-19 crisis? Evidence from a prospective large-scale study. European Journal of Personality. March 2021. doi:10.1177/0890207021996970
Volk, A. A., Brazil, K. J., Franklin-Luther, P., Dane, A. V., & Vaillancourt, T. (2021). The influence of demographics and personality on COVID-19 coping in young adults. Personality and individual differences, 168, 110398. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110398