Americans changed personalities after over a year of pandemic seclusion. That’s what a new Oracle study suggests, thankfully with some positive findings after so much hardship.

As it turns out, the COVID-19 pandemic created circumstances that made people feel:

  • Smarter
  • Open to new experiences
  • More conscientious
  • Agreeable

These traits coincide with the OCEAN “big five” personality model corresponding to:

  1. Openness
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Extraversion
  4. Agreeableness
  5. Neuroticism

In 86% of the 2,000 US consumers surveyed, at least one of the big five traits changed after COVID-19. Openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness were most likely to get a boost, despite the ongoing stressors. 

According to a University of Vermont survey, introverts and those with social anxiety adapted well to lockdowns. In some cases, introverts even saw an elevated mood after taking a break from socialization. As you would expect, extroverts found adjusting more challenging.

Pandemic Paradoxes

Nate Skinner, senior vice president of Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience, says the study revealed some interesting paradoxes.

“We experienced several paradoxes over the last 13 plus months,” said Skinner.

For example, people were:

  • Lonely, yet more connected online
  • Bored, but enjoying new hobbies
  • Isolated from in-person learning, yet feeling smarter

Now, some of the paradoxical trends will impact what happens as we slowly come out of the pandemic.

“Our lives were impacted in ways we couldn’t control, and our rapidly changing consumer habits make it hard for brands to keep up. The experiences of the last year will continue to have massive implications on our consumption and buying behavior as we move forward in a post-pandemic era.”

A Time for Hobbies and Art

While people were spending more time at home, they enjoyed new hobbies like:

  • At-home workouts
  • Filming TikTok videos
  • Making whipped coffee 
  • Baking sourdough bread or banana bread

Certainly, over the last year, we’ve seen many inspiring hobby examples. For instance, one couple devoted time to creating an exquisitely detailed “Mini Modern House” you have to see to believe. Other artists shared hand-painted rock art to lift spirits across the country. In other cases, musicians helped by sharing their talents online.

Focusing on hobbies, artwork, music, and other entertaining pursuits helped us stay inspired and connected. For artists, the pandemic proved challenging without in-person audiences. However, performing virtually or in socially distanced situations was the next best thing.

More Time Reading

One of the biggest changes in the study pertained to reading. Amazingly, 70 percent of Americans felt smarter after reading more during the pandemic. Certainly, that’s a positive change and perhaps will remain a lasting trend.

Along with more reading, Americans watched less television but spent more time on social media. Due to the pandemic, social media helped people feel connected, inspired, and informed. For many teachers, social media became a great way to engage with students while staying at home.

Experts suggest limiting social media for a positive experience, focusing on accounts that make you feel good. However, given the past year, these platforms understandably took on more importance and time.

For example, the Oracle study found that 52 percent of Americans made no new friends over the past year. However, they could reach out and stay connected on social media.

Goodbye Work Commutes, Hello Sweatpants!

Of all the changes, one of the best for many surely was avoiding long drives to work in congested streets. Also, rather than worrying about our professional appearances, it was nice for many to go casual every day!

For those sometimes awkward Zoom calls, most people reported wearing sweatsuits and pajamas. Shockingly, in 14 percent of cases, Americans chose to appear on cam partially naked! (You know who you are!? ) 

Likewise, virtual appearances with the doctor and curbside grocery pickup became the norm. In many places, a return to drive-in movie theaters and outdoor venues was a welcome retro comeback.

In most places, people enjoyed being out enjoying nature more than ever, rescuing animals like birds more in the process. Perhaps, some learned to appreciate nature fully for the first time?

Back to Relative ‘Normal’ with New Appreciation

As Americans return to relatively normal, a few of our pandemic habits may be hard to let go of. However, 96 percent say they are looking forward to getting back to previously restricted activities like indoor dining again.

When we get to go to big concerts and gatherings once more, it will be amazing! Certainly, we’ll have a new appreciation for all of the activities we once took for granted.

See more how the pandemic changed the way we experienced entertainment via TODAY:

Featured image by Engin_Akyurt via PixabayPixabay License