Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/COVID-19 pandemic impacts on motivation and emotion

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COVID-19 impacts on motivation and emotion:
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted on human motivation and emotion?

Overview[edit | edit source]

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new strain of the coronavirus, similar to that of the SARS virus [1]. The world wide Pandemic affected the world for the most of 2020 year [1]. During this time parts of the world went into enforced lockdown.

Some outcomes of the pandemic were;

  • Travel bans - World Wide travel bans were put in place, International travel stopped, and domestic travel was limited (in Australia, the boarders were close, so people were not able to travel from state to state without a permit [2]. This is in comparison to the United States of America, where each state and county was under the control of their local leaders [2].
  • Work from Home arrangements were put in place by Companies with the ability to do so, this was a good way to keep people in work while shut downs happened.
  • Increased Unemployment rate (5.3% - 2019: 7.4% - June 2020)[3] this was a result of the complete closure of bars, pubs, gyms and community centres, with many businesses not recovering from this shut down and ended up closing for good. A United States Of America New Paper "Access", reported that 40% of businesses will struggle to reopen after a disaster [4].
  • Curfews were put in place around the world an example was the Victoria Australia curfew, in August 2020 - where people had to be at home by 8pm and we're not able to go out until 5am, this tactic for managing COVID-19 was also seen in Italy and New Zealand, both who imposed strict curfew and lock down scenarios. The Italian Government imposed a national quarantine on the 9th of March 2020, restricting the movement of the population except for necessity, work, and health circumstances, in response to the pandemic in the country. Additional lockdown restrictions mandated the temporary closure of non-essential shops and businesses[5]. In New Zealand A four-level alert system was introduced on the 21st of March to manage the outbreak within New Zealand. The Alert Level was initially set at Level 2, but was subsequently raised to Level 3 on the afternoon of 23 March. Beginning on 25 March, the Alert Level was moved to Level 4, putting the country into a national lockdown for 4 weeks [6].
  • Social Distancing was arguably the most common, world wide, protocol that was put in place to protect against cover-19 - this describes the act of keeping 1.5 meters between each human (no hugging, hand shaking etc) [7]

These outcomes, have had an effect on individuals ideologies of "connectedness" and "togetherness", businesses questioned the productivity of work from home arrangements, and the Government showed a genuine concern for the mental health of those in minority groups, that would be feeling isolated during this time.

Focus questions:

  • How was COVID-19 handled?
  • What impacts (positive and Negative) did COVID-19 have?[]

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on public mental health. Therefore, monitoring and oversight of the population mental health during crises such as a pandemic is an immediate priority. This study was used to analyse the existing research, works and findings in relation to the prevalence of stress, anxiety and depression in the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to perform a meta-analysis of the collected studies, the random effects model was used, and the heterogeneity of studies was investigated, data analysis was conducted using the Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (CMA) software.

The prevalence of stress in 5 studies with a total sample size of 9074 is obtained as 29.6%, the prevalence of anxiety in 17 studies with a sample size of 63,439 as 31.9% and the prevalence of depression in 14 studies with a sample size of 44,531 people as 33.7%[8].

COVID-19 not only causes physical health concerns but also results in a number of psychological disorders[8]. The spread of the new coronavirus can impact the mental health of people in different communitie, Because of this it is essential to preserve the mental health of individuals and to develop psychological interventions that can improve the mental health of vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emotional Effects of COVID-19[edit | edit source]

Unless a vaccine is developed, or a medicine is discovered to treat the virus, our means of controlling the spread of infection depend on behavioural changes and upon human psychology. Anxiety and feelings of uncertainty during such unprecedented events, such as a world wide health pandemic is to be expected. And as such governments all over the world braced for the effects that world wide isolation would have on mental health.

It is not enough to understand that we need psychology as a core part of efforts against COVID-19. It is also important to understand what sort of psychology helps or hinders in those efforts.”

Suicide[edit | edit source]

In Australia - In March, only 3 months into the COVID-19 out break in Australia, Lifeline, one of australia's suicide prevention hotlines, answered 90,000 calls for help, they reported an increase of 25% when compared with march 2019. Receiving a call every 30 seconds is what sparked the need for the Life Line emergency appeal "you have 30 seconds to have a life".[1].

A study published in Translational Psychiatry investigated the effect of COVID-19 on mental states. The study developed a brief resilience survey probing self-reliance, emotion-regulation, interpersonal-relationship patterns and neighborhood-environment, and applied it online during an acute COVID-19 outbreak. The study captured a unique snapshot for over 3,000 people who were in stressful conditions during the acute pandemic outbreak (>92% of the sample were from the US or Israel that were in lockdown). Participants reported significantly more subjective worries (stress). This pattern was consistent across genders, throughout the lifespan and was overall similar in healthcare providers compared to non-healthcare providers.

A different study's results suggested that the rates of reportable depression symptoms were three times higher during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic [9]. "Undoubtedly, there are many factors contributing to this increase in mood symptoms, including increased social isolation, economic hardships, and exposure to other stressors"[10] - this same study found among participants there were fewer people with no symptoms of depression and more people with more symptoms during COVID-19 than before COVID-19. It also found that certain groups were at greater risk of depression symptoms, such as lower income groups and those that have less than $5,000 in household savings. They had a 50 percent greater risk of depression symptoms than those of higher income.[11]

Domestic Violence[edit | edit source]

The United Nations called for urgent action to combat the worldwide surge in domestic violence, that resulted from COVID-19. “I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic,” Secretary General António Guterres wrote on Twitter [12]. Research has found that there is often a spike in violence against women during major crises and disasters – which have many similar features to the current situation with the devastating spread of COVID-19. Situations of heightened stress and panic, potential family disruption, social isolation, increased financial pressures, and disruption to people’s usual roles can all compound or exacerbate the underlying conditions that lead to violence[13].

Case study - Lele's Story of Domestic Violence in China During Lockdown

As cities and towns across China locked down, a 26-year-old woman named Lele found herself entangled in more and more arguments with her husband, with whom she now had to spend every hour in their home in Anhui Province, in eastern China.

On March 1, while Lele was holding her 11-month-old daughter, her husband began to beat her with a high chair. She is not sure how many times he hit her. Eventually, she says, one of her legs lost feeling and she fell to the ground, still holding the baby in her arms.

Lele — her full name is not being used for her safety — said that her husband had abused her throughout their six-year relationship, but that the Covid-19 outbreak made things far worse.

“During the epidemic, we were unable to go outside, and our conflicts just grew bigger and bigger and more and more frequent,” she said. “Everything was exposed.”

This is often reflected in the increased demand for domestic violence crisis services at such times[13].

Australia has been no different throughout the pandemic, with reports of increased calls to domestic violence helplines including an 11% increase in calls to 1800RESPECT and a 26% increase in calls to Mensline[13]. In addition, Google reported a 75% increase in internet searches relating to support for domestic violence. The NewYork Times reported that these numbers are because of people socially isolating at home with their abusers are often unable to seek help[14].

Globally, in New Zealand, family violence (including child abuse and elder abuse) and sexual violence has been shown to escalate during and after large-scale disasters or crises (NZFVC, 2020). As communities have gone into lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus, the mass efforts to save lives have put both women and men in abusive relationships at a higher risk of "exposure". A recent article published in The Guardian (2020) reported on how the surge of domestic violence cases is a pattern being repeated globally. Reporting from several different countries, the article high-lighted alarming figures, a rise of 40% or 50% in Brazil. In one region of Spain, the government claimed that calls to its helpline had risen by 20% in the first few days of the confinement period and in Cyprus, calls to a similar hotline went up 30% in the week after the country confirmed its first case of coronavirus. In the UK, Refuge, one of the leading domestic abuse organisations reported that calls to the UK Domestic Violence Helpline increased by 25% in the seven days following the announcement of tighter social distancing and lockdown measures by the government.

In Spain, the emergency number for domestic violence received 18 percent more calls in the first two weeks of lockdown than in the same period a month earlier[14].

In Europe, one country after another seems to have followed the same grim path: First, governments impose lockdowns without making sufficient provisions for domestic abuse victims. About 10 days later, distress calls spike, setting off a public outcry[14]


  • Life line calls up 25%[11]
  • Google Searches related to domestic Violence 75%[11]
  • 11% increase to 1800 Respect[11]

Identity Crisis due to COVID-19[edit | edit source]

Some governments were making wearing masks compulsory, this, along with isolation from lock downs, led to identity Crisis's. An article posted by SocialScienceSpace has suggested that masks started an identity crisis, a sign of concern (a ‘we’ thing) for some and to others they are becoming a symbol of mutual care and brings people together. However, making it about individual beliefs and preferences (an ‘I’ thing), the mask becomes a symbol of division and a site of conflict. That has been happening across the U.S., as those who insist on their right to wear masks clash with those who insist on their right not to wear masks.

Wearing Masks removes the ability for people to read facial cues and body langue - this can be problematic as described by the facial-feedback theory of emotions which suggests that facial expressions are connected to experiencing emotions. Charles Darwin and William James both noted early on that sometimes physiological responses often had a direct impact on emotion, rather than simply being a consequence of the emotion [15]

A book written during the pandemic, 'Together Apart' written by three psychologists John Dovidio, Elif Ikizer, Jonas Kunst, And Aharon Levy, pin pointed three lessons, in relation to humanity and identity, as a result of cover-19 [16].

Lesson 1: Threat makes social identity salient and so increases solidarity, cooperation and norm compliance within the group.[16] this can be seen in the world wide compliance of mask wearing, social distancing, and adhering to travel restrictions [16].

Lesson 2: Threat consolidates group boundaries and so increases exclusion between groups[16]

Lesson 3: Whether we see the best of the worst of group psychology depends upon how inclusively or exclusively we define our ingroups and out groups[16]

If group threat leads both to solidarity within the group and to exclusion — or even conflict — between groups, then whether we see the best or the worst of group psychology turns on the question of how broadly or narrowly the ingroup is defined. That, in turn, is dependent on how the threat is defined.

Choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

How many calls did LIFELINE receive during March 2020?


Motivational Effects of COVID-19[edit | edit source]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping students motivated as classes move online has been crucial. The role of student motivation in the process of learning is well known and is supported by research. With both schooling and work happening from, the job of schools and employers to keep their staff motivated was elevated [17].

COVID-19 may have accentuated well-known demotivates, such as the lack of support teachers receive from administration and the work overload they can face, which may have a negative impact on their work-life balance and their wellbeing. Many teachers struggled from a reduction in high-quality interaction with students, to a lack of support and challenges with technology[17].

In one study, posted by 'the conversation' found that the teachers were motivated by intrinsic factors – a sense of reward which came from themselves, such as their enjoyment or satisfaction when teaching because they can help and educate learners and shape the future of our society[17]. During the pandemic, teachers have had to figure out how to teach online and many have engaged in training to improve their performance and make sure they are ready for the challenges of online teaching.

Another study posted in Relocate Magazine, looked into Motivation due to lack of work and particularly the effects has on younger people. The study of over 1000 GB employees was carried out and reveals that the performance of younger workers (under 35 years old) is twice as likely to be impacted by a lack of motivation than that of 45-54-year olds (22%), and significantly more likely to be impacted by a lack of motivation than the average for all age groups (28%)[18].

The pandemic has impacted individuals world wide, but an increasing number of studies show that younger workers have been some of the hardest hit when it comes to furlough and lockdown loneliness, both of which affect motivation[18]

Some of the other factors impacting the performance of all workers in the current climate, include distractions from working at home (21%) and a lack of connection or communication to colleagues within (19%) and outside (14%) of people’s team. Distractions from working at home were most likely to impact those between the ages of 35 and 44 (30%). Whereas a lack of connection to colleagues within their team is most likely to impact the performance of people under 35 (26%)[18]

Positives of COVID-19[edit | edit source]

Through the Pandemic of COVID-19 there were many negative influences on mental health. There was an increase in unemployment, depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms, calls to help lines specifically Domestic violence[14]. Most researchers put these increases down to the restrictions of social distancing.

While it is easy to focus on the negatives, during a world wide disaster, there have been some positives that have come from the COVID-19 Pandemic;

  1. The Environment - Carbon emissions are down globally and with manufacturing and air travel grinding to a halt, the planet has had a chance to rejuvenate[19]
  2. Connectedness - sense of community and social cohesion. Self-isolation challenges us as social animals who desire relationships, contact and interaction with other humans [20]
  3. Reimagined schooling/work - changing education at all levels. Home-schooling is becoming the new way of learning, exposing many parents to what their children know and do [20][19]

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

In conclusion, The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on public mental health and monitoring of the population mental health during crises such as a pandemic was an immediate priority of governments all over the world. Emotional effects of COVID-19 are prevalent, as seen in the higher calls received to lifeline and domestic violence hotlines. There is also a discussion of an identity crisis, due to the WE / ME, argument that developed as the need for masks grew. Motivation was impacted due to an increased unemployment rate, and change in work conditions, such as, work from home arrangements.

While there was a number of negative effects, there were also some very positive effects of COVID-19, such as the Environment and the reimagined options for work and study.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Barzilay, R., Moore, T.M., Greenberg, D.M. et al. Resilience, COVID-19-related stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic in a large population enriched for healthcare providers. Transl Psychiatry 10, 291 (2020).

Neil, J.Domestic violence and COVID 19, Australian Journal for General Practitioners, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACG) doi: 10.31128/AJGP-COVID-25

Shine, R. (2020, June 24). 'Confused, upset, crying': Grieving families face red tape securing travel ban exemption. Retrieved from

Wang C, Horby PW, Hayden FG, Gao GF. A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern. Lancet. 2020;395(10223):470–3.

Huang Y, Zhao N. Generalized anxiety disorder, depressive symptoms and sleep quality during COVID-19 epidemic in China: a web-based cross-sectional survey. MedRxiv. 2020;288:112954.

Wang Y, Xu B, Zhao G, Cao R, He X, Fu S. Is quarantine related to immediate negative psychological consequences during the 2009 H1N1 epidemic? Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2011;33(1):75–7.

Rubin GJ, Wessely S. The psychological effects of quarantining a city. BMJ. 2020;368:m313.

Shigemura J, Ursano RJ, Morganstein JC, Kurosawa M, Benedek DM. Public responses to the novel 2019 coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Japan: mental health consequences and target populations. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2020;74(4):281.

External links[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 2.0 2.1
  8. 8.0 8.1
  10. "Depression Symptoms 3 Times Higher During COVID-19 Lockdown". Healthline. 2020-09-10. Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "Depression Symptoms 3 Times Higher During COVID-19 Lockdown". Healthline. 2020-09-10. Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2
  19. 19.0 19.1
  20. 20.0 20.1