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Sex differences in maladaptive emotional and behavioral responses to COVID-19: What is the role of personality?

Authors
  • DeGrace, Sarah1
  • Baptist-Mohseni, Natasha2
  • Single, Alanna3
  • Keough, Matthew T.2
  • Wardell, Jeffrey D.2, 4, 5
  • Stewart, Sherry H.1, 6
  • 1 alifax B3H 2E2, NS, Canada
  • 2 Department of Psychology, York University, 4700 Keele St, North York, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
  • 3 Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, 190 Dysart Rd, Winnipeg R3T 2N2, MB, Canada
  • 4 Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 33 Ursula Franklin Street, Toronto M5S 2S1, ON, Canada
  • 5 Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, 250 College St., Toronto M5T 1R8, ON, Canada
  • 6 Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax B3H 4R2, NS, Canada
Type
Published Article
Journal
Personality and Individual Differences
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Mar 19, 2021
Volume
178
Pages
110834–110834
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2021.110834
PMID: 33758454
PMCID: PMC7973079
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Short Communication
License
Unknown

Abstract

Males are more non-adherent to public health measures for containing COVID-19 while females experience more COVID-19-related distress. Personality traits may influence both non-adherence and distress. We examined sensation seeking (SS), anxiety sensitivity (AS), impulsivity, and hopelessness as traits potentially associated with non-adherence and distress in response to COVID-19. Furthermore, we sought to understand if known sex differences in SS (male > female) and AS (female > male) may explain sex differences on these two COVID-19 outcomes. In the first month of the pandemic, 400 adults (mean age = 32.16 years; 45.3%F) completed the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale to assess personality. Degree of adherence to public health recommendations and COVID-19-related distress were also measured. Male sex was indirectly related to poorer adherence to stay-at-home advisories via SS, and female sex was indirectly related to higher COVID-19 distress via AS. Personality-targeted interventions may help reduce non-adherence and COVID-19 distress, potentially reducing sex differences.

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