OBJECTIVE: Social distancing is crucial in order to flatten the curve of COVID-19 virus spreading. Isolation, scarcity of resources and the lack of social contacts may have produced a negative impact on people’s emotions and psychological well-being. This study aims to explore the reasons and the ways through which social distancing generates negative emotions in individuals who experienced the lockdown. To a larger extent, the objective is to check the existence of relations between negative emotions and the satisfaction of basic needs.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In Italy 140,656 online interviews were collected from March 22 to April 2, 2020. Data analysis was carried out using mono and bivariate statistical analysis, K-means clustering and the Principal Components Analysis (PCA). The parameters for the identification of six clusters were: the intensity of the respondent’s basic emotions and the layers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
RESULTS: The majority of people involved in an emergency situation, implying a collapse of social contacts, experience some kind of emotional reactions. In our study, we found a correlation between basic emotions and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In times of crisis, the most basic needs are the physiological ones. Fear, anger and sadness are predominant in all population groups; anger and disgust mainly appear when people are exposed to the risk of not being able to meet subsistence needs, thus perceiving a lack of economic security.
CONCLUSIONS: The well-known Maslow’s theory of human needs seems to fit well with the outbreak of negative emotions in the context of COVID-19. This study demonstrates the existence of links between negative emotions and primary needs that mainly refer to the first three levels of Maslow’s pyramid. As a result of COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, many people have been sucked into the bottom layers of the pyramid. This change in individual basic needs has triggered a relevant transformation in individual emotional status and a shift towards negative emotions.
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L. Cerbara, G. Ciancimino, M. Crescimbene, F. La Longa, M.R. Parsi, A. Tintori, R. Palomba
A nation-wide survey on emotional and psychological impacts of COVID-19 social distancing
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Vol. 24 - N. 12