Personality Traits and Mental Health Outcomes: The Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Young Adults in the UK

Economics of Public Policy master project by Nour Hammad, Alexandre Marin, and Ruben van den Akker ’21

Spray paint on asphalt of a smile face and the words Stay Safe
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing BSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona School of Economics.

Abstract

Mental health outcomes significantly deteriorated in the United Kingdom as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for younger individuals. This paper uses data from the Millennium Cohort Study to investigate the heterogeneity of mental health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on adolescents by both personality types and personality traits. Using two-step cluster analysis we find three robust personality clusters: resilient, overcontrolled, and undercontrolled.

Conclusions

  • We surprisingly find that resilient individuals, who generally have better mental health, reported larger decreases in mental health during the pandemic than both undercontrollers and overcontrollers
  • The effect seems to be driven by the neuroticism trait, such that those with higher neuroticism scores fared better than those with lower scores during the pandemic
  • Our findings highlight that personality traits are important factors in identifying stress-prone individuals during a pandemic.

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