It’s official: The pandemic turned us all into jerks

Viewed in Business Insider

Not all crises impact us the same, a new study published in The Public Library of Science (PLOS) finds.

Kindness and unity

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, for instance, Americans experienced an almost unprecedented level of kindness and unity in their public demeanor.

Not so with the Covid-19 global pandemic, however. Florida State University behavioral scientist Angelina Sutin, who authored the study says there were some encouraging signs at first, “We hypothesized there was this early coming-together, ‘we need to fight the virus together,” she says.

Unpleasant, argumentative and less diligent

But that public sentiment did not last long. In part because of the pandemic’s extensive duration, patience ultimately wore thin—and, according to this Business Insider summary of the study, people became “…more unpleasant. We’re more argumentative, less diligent at home and work lives, less likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger or call an old friend, and less excited about new things.”

Bottom line: “Covid-19 turned us into jerks,” Business Insider concludes.

Reversing those traits through small, replicated steps

If you’re seeking to be part of reversing that trend, Business Insider contends, the key is “small steps, diligently taken.” Replicated many times over, there is a good basis for optimism that we may all prove successful in purging the personal traits this costly, stressful, and long-lasting pandemic has brought out in many of us.

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