Emotional State of Older Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Insights from the Cognitive and Social Well-Being (CoSoWELL) Corpus
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OBJECTIVES: In view of the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, psychologists face a challenge to document the pandemic-related change in emotional well-being of individuals and groups and evaluate the emotional response to this fallout over time. METHODSP: We contribute to this goal by analyzing the new CoSoWELL corpus (version 2.0), an 1.8 million-word collection of narratives written by over 1,300 older adults (55+ y.o.) in eight sessions before, during and after the global lockdown. In the narratives, we examined a range of linguistic variables traditionally associated with emotional well-being and observed signs of distress, i.e., lower positivity and heightened levels of fear, anger, and disgust. RESULTS: In most variables, we observed a characteristic timeline of change, i.e., a delayed (by 4 months) and abrupt drop in optimism and increase in negative emotions that reached its peak about 7 months after the lockdown and returned to pre-pandemic levels one year after. Our examination of risk factors showed that higher levels of self-reported loneliness came with elevated levels of negative emotions but did not change the timeline of emotional response to the pandemic. CONCLUSIONS: We discuss implications of the findings for theories of emotion regulation.
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