Portraits Anja Feneberg, Paul Forbes, Giulio Piperno, Ekaterina Pronizius, Ana Stijovic, Nadine Skoluda, Claus Lamm, Urs Nater und Giorgia Silani.

Full titel of the project: "The COVID-19 crisis, stress, mood, and behaviour: an ecological momentary assessment study".

Team: C. Lamm, U.M. Nater, and G. Silani (PIs) with their team of Early Career Researchers (A.C. Feneberg, P.A.G. Forbes, G. Piperno, E. Pronizius, N. Skoluda, A. Stijovic).

Institute/Department: Faculty of Psychology, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Department of Cognition, Emotion, and Methods in Psychology, as well as the University Research Platform "The Stress of Life (SOLE)".

Goal of the project: Our goal is to assess the link between mood, stress, and behavior in daily life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we provide a brief overview of some of the recent findings from this project.

Why is this important and useful? The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant disruptions to our daily lives. So it is of both theoretical and practical importance to identify factors which make people vulnerable to negative psychological effects of the pandemic.

Abstract: We measured fluctuations in perceived stress and mood during the first lockdown in April 2020 in individuals residing in Austria and Italy using an ecological momentary assessment approach. 731 participants entered their momentary stress and mood levels, and recent behaviour into a smartphone app five times per day for seven days. Our results are in line with previous work showing that younger, lonelier, more financially insecure individuals, and participants with more depressive symptoms were most affected by COVID-19 restrictions in terms of their psychological wellbeing. Moreover, these more vulnerable individuals showed differences in how their mood and stress levels changed diurnally during lockdown. For example, younger people were more stressed overall, but also showed a reduced decrease in their stress levels throughout the day. The study highlights the need for tailored support for vulnerable groups during future lockdowns, and more generally, has provided novel insights into how our stress and mood fluctuate during psychologically demanding periods.

Explanation - easy to understand: We investigated people's stress, mood and behavior during COVID-19 lockdown in April 2020. We did this by asking them questions via a smartphone app multiple times a day for one week. As expected, we found that certain groups showed lower mood and more stress during lockdown. These were, for example, younger people, lonelier individuals, and those who reported being less financially secure. We also investigated how people's mood and stress changed throughout the day. We found that certain groups, such as younger people, showed differences in their daily fluctuations in mood and stress. For example, young people were not only more stressed overall but showed a reduced decrease in stress levels as the day progressed.

Links: Preprint: https://psyarxiv.com/9rf8g/
Preregistration and other materials: https://osf.io/gsvdf
Conferences: https://wasad2021.org/homepage.html