MIT professor Azra Akšamija creates works of cultural resilience in the face of social conflict.
Did America's collective mental health get worse (and then better) after the first COVID-19 lockdown?
- According to a new study, there was an influx of internet searches for mental health symptoms during the beginning of the pandemic, and this has slowly trended downwards.
- Researchers looked at whether mitigation policies correlated with Google searches for terms associated with depression and anxiety between January and June of 2020. Additionally, they monitored search terms for in-home activities.
- While searches for antidepressants and suicide did rise when social distancing measures were being implemented, research shows the search terms exercise and cooking also rose.
Mental health internet searches throughout the COVID-19 pandemic<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTYxOTM3Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODAzNDUxN30.KY1F3g3HZf58zZvDIweCZlf4eJK57QZVQYj1s0Uvp8g/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C183%2C0%2C312&height=700" id="5da47" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e1dcdabb94dd518ad325750ecc847325" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="woman sitting inside looking outside concept of mental health depression anxiety sadness COVID-19" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
This is one of many studies that have examined the mental health impact of COVID-19 isolation orders.
Photo by Maridav on Adobe Stock<p>In this study, researchers looked at whether mitigation policies correlated with Google searches for terms associated with depression and anxiety. Additionally, they monitored search terms for in-home activities. Researchers covered the time span from January 2020 to June 2020.</p><p><strong>Two previous studies have examined the mental health effects of stay-at-home orders. </strong></p><p>The first study (<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570677X20302331?via%3Dihub#bib0155" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hamermesh, 2020</a>) used a simulation where time spent alone from the 2012-2013 American Time Use Survey forecasted negative impacts of the stay-at-home orders on happiness. </p><p>The second study (<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570677X20302331?via%3Dihub#bib0050" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Brodeur et al,. 2020</a>) examined the effects of the stay-at-home orders on mental health symptoms related to searches on Google. In this case, there were reported increases in searches relating to the following terms: </p><ul><li>"Boredom" </li><li>"Sadness" </li><li>"Loneliness"</li><li>"Worry"</li></ul><p><strong>In this study, limited social contact had people searching terms such as "isolation" and "worry." </strong></p><p>Findings from this study indicated that social limits (on restaurants and bars, for example) and stay-at-home orders correlated with immediate increases in searches for the terms "isolation" and "worry" - but the effects within a few weeks.</p><p><strong>The beginning of the pandemic showed significant spikes in mental health symptom searches.</strong></p><p>"At the outset of the pandemic, consistent with prior research, social distancing policies correlated with a spike in searches about how to deal with isolation and worry, which shouldn't be surprising," <a href="https://www.psychcongress.com/article/online-searches-related-mental-health-stabilized-after-spiking-early-pandemic" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said co-author Dolores Albarracín, Ph.D.</a> "Generally speaking, if you have a pandemic or an economic shock, that's going to produce its own level of anxiety, depression, and negative feelings, and we had both with COVID-19."</p><p>Within two to four weeks of peaking, however, such searches tapered off, the study showed.</p><p><strong>Experts weigh in: time spent at home could be beneficial. </strong></p><p>Why would mental health-related searches taper off when the pandemic was still raging on? This study found that more time spent with family (or working from home, taking up new hobbies due to isolation) because of the stay-at-home orders could have lead to improvements in health and may counteract any potential negative health effect of the isolation policies.</p><p>It's also important to note that not all changes in mental health searches could be in response to the isolation policies being enforced. Historically, infectious diseases have been responsible for the greatest human death tolls and function as a massive stressor on society as a whole. </p><p><strong>Both positive and negative Google searches rose during the pandemic. </strong></p><p>While searches for "antidepressants" and "suicide" did rise at times when social distancing measures were being implemented, research shows the search terms "exercise" and "cooking" also rose. This suggests that people were actively searching for ways to combat the negative feelings the isolation measures brought out. </p>
New research identifies 16 different COVID-19 personality types and the lessons we can learn from this global pandemic.
- New research by Mimi E. Lam at the University of Bergen explores the different "personality types" that have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- According to Lam, recognizing various COVID-19 identities can refine forecasts of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and impact.
- Global Solutions Initiative, Population Matters, and AME explore how the world (and society) has changed due to COVID-19.
Are you a complier or non-complier personality type?<p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-020-00679-5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New research by Mimi E. Lam</a> at the University of Bergen (Human and Social Sciences Communications) explores the different "personality types" that have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.<br></p><p>Lam explains to Eurekalert: <em>"</em>...the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that we are not immune to each other. To unite in our fight against the pandemic, it is important to recognize the basic dignity of all and value the human diversity currently dividing us."</p><p>According to Lam, "Only then, can we foster societal resilience and an ethical COVID-19 agenda. This would pave the way for other global commons challenges whose impacts are less immediate, but no less dire for humanity."</p><p>There are 16 different COVID-19 personality types, and they include the following:</p><ol> <li><strong>Deniers </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who downplay the viral threat and promote a kind of "business as usual" lifestyle.</li><li><strong>Spreaders </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who believe spreading the virus could actually be positive. These are individuals who believe in "herd immunity" and that passing the virus around will eventually allow things to return to normal.</li><li><strong>Harmers </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who intentionally attempt to harm others by spreading the virus (via coughing or spitting, not wearing masks, licking various public surfaces, etc.).</li><li><strong>Realists </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who recognize the reality (and potential harm) of spreading the virus and attempt to adjust their behaviors to not spread the virus.</li><li><strong>Worriers </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who stay informed and safe to manage their uncertainty and fear. These are also individuals who will have a lot of anxiety over the current state of the virus at all times.</li><li><strong>Contemplators </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who have taken "quarantine times" to isolate and reflect on their own lives. These are individuals who may attempt to better themselves (focusing on new hobbies or skills) during times of isolation.</li><li><strong>Hoarders </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who panic-buy and hoard products (such as <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/toilet-paper-is-a-giant-waste-of-resources" target="_blank">toilet paper</a>) in an attempt to quell their panic and worry over the spreading of the virus.</li><li><strong>Invincibles </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who believe themselves to be immune to the virus. These are also individuals who claim a kind of "if I get sick, I get sick" kind of attitude, not taking time to reflect on the idea that they could be carriers of the virus, spreading it to others.</li><li><strong>Rebels </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who defiantly ignore social distancing measures and various other rules put into place to protect the general public.</li><li><strong>Blamers</strong> — Those who fault others for their fears and frustrations.</li><li><strong>Exploiters </strong>—<strong> </strong>Those who attempt to exploit the current situation (taking advantage of vulnerable people/situations) for power, profit, or brutality.</li><li><strong>Innovators </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who attempt to design or repurposes resources in an attempt to fight the pandemic and contribute to society.</li><li><strong>Supporters </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who show support and solidarity to others around them in regards to fending off the virus or supporting loved ones.</li><li><strong>Altruists </strong>— Individuals who help the vulnerable, elderly, and isolated.</li><li><strong>Warriors </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals (such as front-line support workers and health care workers) who combat COVID-19 on the front lines, facing the harsh and grim realities of a global pandemic on a larger scale.</li><li><strong>Veterans </strong>—<strong> </strong>Individuals who have experienced a previous pandemic (such as SARS or MERS) and willingly comply with restrictions.<br></li></ol><p>According to Lam and her research, recognizing various COVID-19 identities can refine forecasts of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and impact. These viral identities can reflect values, social identities, situational contexts, and risk tolerances. Lam suggests that to forecast viral transmission within populations (accounting for different responses), these identified viral behaviors can be clustered by their "compliance" efforts.<br><br></p><ol><li><strong>Non-compilers </strong>are individuals who fall into the following categories: Deniers, Harmers, Invincibles, and Rebels.</li><li><strong>Partial compliers</strong> would be individuals who fall into the categories of: Spreaders, Blamers, and Exploiters.</li><li><strong>Compliers</strong> would be individuals who are in the categories of Realists, Worriers, Contemplators, Hoarders, Innovators, Supporters, Altruists, Warriors, and Veterans.</li></ol><p><strong>Lam suggests that liberal democracies need an ethical policy agenda with three priorities: </strong></p><ul><li>Recognize the diversity of individuals</li><li>Deliberate and negotiate value trade-offs</li><li>Promote public buy-in, trust, and compliance</li></ul><p>By projecting different impacts in COVID-19 transmission and deaths and then correlating those with variable behavioral responses such as the ones listed above, we can reveal the benefits of not only flattening the viral curve but shifting our behavioral curve in a joint human effort to induce more adaptive responses to the pandemic. More research needs to be conducted in this area. </p>
What has COVID-19 taught us as a society?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU1OTcwMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDM2MDA5MH0.3RGt8n8Oll8KaVxfWZhf4scO4FuZTJnBiTo3l5V4nHg/img.jpg?width=980" id="66eb9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9d8a31cc3e346006aa361979e65af9d2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="image of shop closed due to coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic economy" data-width="7200" data-height="4050" />
Image by Corona Borealis on Adobe Stock<p><strong>The <a href="https://www.global-solutions-initiative.org/press-news/fundamental-lessons-from-the-covid-19-pandemic-global-solutions-summit-2020-opening-address/" target="_blank">Global Solutions Initiative</a></strong><strong> outlines a few questions and concerns that humankind has been faced with since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020:</strong></p><ul><li>We have been confronted with the true uncertainty and vulnerability of human life and our very existence.<br><br> </li><li>We have been made to face existential questions - what are we here for, what do we want to accomplish? Who are the people that matter most to us?</li></ul><p><strong><a href="https://populationmatters.org/news/2020/12/18/what-covid-19-has-taught-us-about-our-relationship-nature" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Population Matters</a> outlines a few more daunting questions about humankind's relationship with nature: </strong></p><ul><li>What is the link between population growth, environmental destruction, and pandemics?<br><br> </li><li>How has our society's exponential rise in consumption, trade, and population pressure driven a rapid increase in the risk of pandemics? </li></ul><p><strong><a href="https://www.ameinfo.com/industry/life/5-things-covid-19-has-taught-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">AME</a> outlines some essential things this pandemic has taught us about humanity and life: </strong></p><ul><li>The meat industry has played a large hand in transmitting this virus. According to a recent study, SARS-CoV-2 originated in bats and has likely been transmitted to human through a scaled mammal called a pangolin (which are highly traded in China despite being deemed illegal). </li></ul><ul><li>Nature can recover from our destructive efforts. Since the pandemic, the world has seen <a href="https://www.sfgate.com/living-in-sf/article/Coyotes-are-being-seen-on-the-empty-streets-15159105.php" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">coyotes on the streets</a>, <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-lockdown-conservation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wild boar roaming around in Barcelona</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/09/coronavirus-may-prove-boost-for-uks-bees-and-rare-wildflowers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">more bees, and rare wildflowers in the UK.<br></a> </li><li>Many in-office employees can work from home. This pandemic has altered the way many businesses run and will continue to run in the future. This could cause less pollution and have positive impacts on the environment. </li></ul><p>The research conducted by Lam and subsequent research on how COVID-19 is impacting society can help us grow and adapt and perhaps become better equipped to deal with global pandemics in the future. </p>
Most people believe you can win an argument with facts - but when "facts" are so often subject to doubt, are personal experiences trusted more?
- A new study has found that people are more likely to get respect from others in moral and political conversations when sharing personal experiences instead of facts.
- The research group conducted 15 separate experiments to test this theory in order to learn more about tolerance in specifically political arguments.
- The effectiveness of facts in these conversations (even when proven true) is unclear because facts themselves are now subject to doubt, especially surrounding controversial and polarizing topics such as gun control and political beliefs.
Use personal experience, not facts, to gain respect in a disagreement<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU0OTM4OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTI2MTAzNn0.kCBmbeMe4l9pD-UK2Fwlj6Z0uPRcTqdypSP3EPEdrrc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C974%2C0%2C720&height=700" id="bc462" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="15edfa5a8ceafa70d68d9f4ffa1b7674" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of man and woman arguing political arguments disagreement" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Do personal anecdotes mean more than facts in a world where facts can't be trusted?
Image by ngupakarti on Adobe Stock<p><a href="https://phys.org/news/2021-01-people-contrasting-views-respected-personal.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to the study</a>, both liberals and conservatives believe that using facts in a political discussion will help foster mutual respect and understanding — however, all fifteen of these experiments (across multiple methodologies and issues) show that isn't quite true.</p><p><strong>These studies were conducted using topics that have proved quite polarizing in the past, such as: </strong></p><ul><li>Conversations about guns</li><li>Discussion over comments from YouTube videos regarding abortion opinions</li><li>An archive of 137 interview transcripts from Fox News and CNN<br> </li></ul><p><strong>"What would make you respect their opinion on the subject"?</strong><br><br>In the first study (n = 251), participants were asked to "imagine someone disagrees with you on moral issues" (abortion, for example). They were then asked, "What would make you respect their opinion on the subject"?<br></p><p>Responses were then categorized into themes with a majority of respondents (55.78 percent) stating that basing one's stance on facts and statistics would increase respect, followed by basing one's stance on personal experiences (21.12 percent), followed by an understanding of mutual respect (14.34 percent).</p><p><strong>"When discussing political beliefs, who is more rational?"</strong></p><p>Next, a sample of participants (n = 859) was asked to imagine interacting with two political opponents, one who based their beliefs on facts, and one who based their beliefs on personal experiences. Participants rated their imaginary fact-based opponent as more rational than the opponent who based their stance on personal experiences. They also voted that they respected them more and wanted to interact with them more. </p><p>A separate study from this experiment (study number four, n = 177) had participants weighing in on topics such as taxes, coal, and gun policies. They then were asked to read about individuals who disagreed with them on these subjects either due to personal experiences or factual knowledge. Participants in this study rated how rational their opponent seemed, and those who based their arguments on personal experience were perceived as more rational than those basing their opinions on factual knowledge. </p><p><strong>How does this translate to real-world conversations? </strong></p><p>This section of the experiment had 153 participants engaging in conversations on the street (with people they assumed were passersby but were actually members of the research team) about the topic of gun control. Analyses of these conversations revealed that strangers who based their stance on personal experiences were treated as more rational (and were more respected/interacted with more) by participants than those who based their stance on facts. </p><p><strong>Confirming the theory that even when facts are true, personal experiences garner more respect and willingness to engage in conversation.</strong> </p><p>This experiment (n = 194) sought to reaffirm the theory that personal experiences garnered more respect while ruling out possible alternative explanations. The researchers contrasted concrete facts about gun control (taken from JustFacts.com) with personal experiences. For example, someone reading an annual report that mentions 73 percent of murders in the United States are committed with firearms (factual knowledge) versus "someone's young daughter was hit by a stray bullet" (experience-driven argument). </p><p>This study found that these facts were rated as higher in specificity and concreteness than the personal experience, however, personal experiences gained more respect and willingness to discuss the topic. </p><p><strong>Facts, even when proven true, are often less respected than personal experiences. </strong></p><p>When imagining these different kinds of arguments, everyday Americans believe that supporting their belief with facts will lead to respect. However, the effectiveness of facts (even when proven correct) is unclear. The problem is, in the past decades, American has seen a decentralization of news and information that has allowed people to gather their "own facts." Facts themselves are now subject to doubt, especially surrounding controversial and polarizing topics. </p>
Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>