Skip to content Skip to navigation

Mindsets formed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic predict well-being several months later, Stanford psychologists find

Stanford researchers in psychology explored the relationships between mindsets and behaviors, emotions, and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Image credit: Getty Images
Apr 27 2022
Fellow, Research, Stanford

Warnings of the fast-spreading SARS-CoV-2 virus in early 2020 threw everyone’s lives into chaos. Many people wondered how the virus would affect their health, jobs, housing accommodations, and other aspects of their lives. To cope with the turmoil and confusion of COVID-19, individuals quickly developed mindsets about it – simplified viewpoints that help a person create meaning, make predictions, and take action.

Now, Stanford University psychologists have found that mindsets formed about COVID-19 early on – within the first 10 days of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the disease a global pandemic – influenced emotions and health behaviors, ultimately affecting well-being months down the line. The results stem from a study of more than 5,000 American adults surveyed at three specific points in time: the beginning of the pandemic, six weeks later, and again at the six-month mark. The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.

“We had long thought that mindsets are formed in the midst of uncertainty,” said Alia Crum, an associate professor of psychology in Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences and senior author on the paper. “So this current event, as unfortunate as it was, was the moment to study mindsets.”

Co-author Kari Leibowitz is a 2015 Stanford Graduate Fellow and a 2018 Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow.

Read the full article