The impact of social isolation and changes in work patterns on ongoing thought during the first COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom.

Published: 17 September 2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/n3wz7y8mhs.1
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Description

This data was used to examine how changes to socializing and working during the UK's first national lockdown impacted ongoing thought patterns in daily life. We compared the prevalence of thought patterns (identified using Principal Components Analysis, PCA) between two independent real-world experience-sampling cohorts, collected before- and during lockdown. In both samples, young (18-35 y) and older (55+ y) participants completed experience-sampling measures five times daily for seven days. Dimension reduction (PCA) was applied to these data to identify common “patterns of thought”. Linear mixed modelling compared the prevalence of each thought pattern (i) before- and during lockdown, (ii) in different age groups and (iii) across different social and activity contexts. During lockdown, when people were alone, social thinking was reduced, but on the rare occasions when social interactions were possible, we observed a greater increase in social thinking than prelockdown. Furthermore, lockdown was associated with a reduction in future-directed problem-solving, but this thought pattern was reinstated when individuals engaged in work. Therefore, our study suggests that the lockdown led to significant changes in ongoing thought patterns in daily life and these changes were associated with changes to our daily routine that occurred during lockdown. For full details of how this data was collected, see Mckeown et al (2021), PNAS, The impact of social isolation and changes in work patterns on ongoing thought during the first COVID-19 lockdown in the United Kingdom.

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In the pre-lockdown sample, younger PS were recruited between October 2016 & March 2017 from undergraduate and postgraduate student bodies. 78 younger PS completed experience-sampling surveys (ESQ) (female = 57, male = 21, Age: M = 19.64, SD = 1.62, range = 18-27). In the pre-lockdown sample, older PS were recruited between August 2016 & November 2016. 35 older PS completed ESQs (female = 20, male = 15, Age: Mean = 66.80, SD = 6.88, range = 55-87). In the lockdown sample, all PS were invited to participate in the daily-life experience-sampling after completing an initial survey, as part of a larger project, on Prolific (www.prolific.co). 91 PS completed ESQs between April 29th, 2020, & May 13th, 2020. 2 PS were removed from the study on day 1 as they were not currently residing in the UK, & their data were excluded. 2 PS were excluded for having missing age data. 5 PS were excluded as they did not fall into either the young (18-35 y) or older (55+ y) age-groups. The final sample comprised 59 younger PS (female = 40, male = 17, self-describe= 1, prefer not to say= 1, Age: Mean: 24.22, SD = 4.07 , range = 18-35) & 23 older PS (female = 13, male = 9, self-describe= 1, Age: Mean: 63.91, SD = 7.06, range = 55-78). PS received a text message with a link to an online Qualtrics survey 5 times daily for 7 days at quasi-random intervals between 09:00 and 21:00 (20:45 in the lockdown sample) administered via SurveySignal. Each survey link expired after 2 hr. In the pre-lockdown sample, 7 older PS completed up to eight surveys a day for ten days. However, this procedure was shortened after PS feedback that the procedure was too intensive. Additionally, in the pre-lockdown sample, 23 older PS and 1 younger PS opted to complete the study on paper. They were provided with a phone where texts acted as signals. The ESQ first asked PS to consider the contents & form of their thoughts immediately before being signalled on various dimensions using a 1-5 Likert scale (in pre-lockdown sample, 2 questions were asked on 1-7 scale, so all questions were rescaled using computation: (observed score-1)/(highest possible score on that scale-1) before z-scoring & applying Principal Components Analysis to z-scored data. The survey then asked PS to rate their emotions on various dimensions using a 1-5 Likert scale. PS were also asked “Were you alone or with other people just before taking this survey?” (in the lockdown sample, the question specified ‘physically and not virtually’). Response options were: “Alone”, “Around people but NOT interacting” or “Around people and interacting”. In the lockdown sample, PS were also asked “Virtually, were you alone or with other people just before taking this survey?”. Response options were the same as those for the physical interaction question. Additionally, in the lockdown sample, PS were asked to indicate their location (7 options) & primary activity (24 options) immediately before answering the survey.

Categories

Psychology, Aging, Experience-Sampling Research, COVID-19

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