Sam Liu, an assistant professor of kinesiology at UVic, has found extroverts, particularly people who are very active and social, are experiencing higher levels of distress throughout the pandemic. (Provided by UVic Photo Services)

Sam Liu, an assistant professor of kinesiology at UVic, has found extroverts, particularly people who are very active and social, are experiencing higher levels of distress throughout the pandemic. (Provided by UVic Photo Services)

University of Victoria study finds extroverts experiencing higher stress levels during pandemic

Degree of extroversion influences individual perception of stress during the pandemic

New research coming out of the University of Victoria says extroverts, particularly people who are very active and social, are experiencing higher levels of distress during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sam Liu, an assistant professor of kinesiology at UVic, found that a person’s degree of extroversion influenced their levels of perceived stress during the pandemic. Liu concluded that introverts, who typically have fewer social interactions than extroverts, may have only had “relatively small shifts in their regular social behaviour” when pandemic regulations went into place.

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According to Liu, there are five broad personality traits: neuroticism, or the tendency to be emotionally unstable and to experience such feelings as anxiety, worry and fear; conscientiousness, which is associated with traits such as responsible, organized and goal-directed; extroversion described as sociable, assertive with a high activity level; openness which is linked to perceptive, creative and reflective traits; and agreeableness.

“Certain personality traits such as conscientiousness, extroversion and especially neuroticism, have particularly strong associations with perceived stress and they tend to perceive events as highly threatening and often have limited coping resources, self-regulation and perceived efficacy,” he said, adding that his study confirmed that people with a strong neurotic personality experienced higher levels of stress during the pandemic.

“[This stress was] due to higher levels of perceived threat related to COVID-19 and lower levels of perceived efficacy to follow government recommendations for preventing COVID-19,” said Liu.

Lui said he hopes the study’s findings will inform future behaviour interventions to manage stress as the pandemic continues, along with aiding in future pandemic planning.

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