UT joins worldwide study on coping with COVID-19

Madeline Duncan, News reporter

UT psychology researchers joined a global research initiative that is currently recruiting participants to study how individuals are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by researchers from the University of Muenster, the University of Osnabrueck, and Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, the Coping with Corona study aims to understand how personality differences influence the way people are dealing with the pandemic, according to the study’s website. Julian Scharbert, a University of Muenster PhD student and project coordinator, said they want to learn more about how to improve people’s psychological well-being.

“What we are trying to understand is how the Corona crisis is affecting us psychologically,” Scharbert said. “We’re trying to get an idea of how COVID-19 and the whole situation affects the people right in their everyday life.”

The study consists of a four-week sampling method in which participants complete multiple short surveys detailing their emotional state throughout the day on their smartphone, Scharbert said. The questions include “how are you,” “who are you with” and “how are you feeling,” Samuel Gosling, UT psychology professor and study collaborator, said. The surveys are meant to be completed in a few minutes time.

“(The phones) will allow us to get a much more fine-grained analysis of their psychological and emotional responses,” Gosling said. 

Throughout the study, the participants receive personalized feedback based on aspects of their personality and their survey answers, Scharbert said. The study is now available to participants in the United States, Gosling said.

Gabriella Harari, an assistant professor of communication at Stanford University, and Sandra Matz, an associate professor of business at the Columbia Business School have joined Gosling on the study. Harari said that having contributors on the East Coast, West Coast and Central U.S. should help to accurately represent the U.S. population. 

“Within the U.S. specifically, we’re aiming to recruit at least 500 participants, and ideally they would be representative of the U.S. population, which is obviously diverse,” Harari said. 

UT students can sign up to participate in the study and enter in raffles for cash prizes, and the researchers will donate one euro per participant to a charity of their choice, Scharbert said. 

“As a participant in this type of study, you can provide your own perspective about what it’s been like to experience the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of how it’s influenced your own daily life,” Harari said.