Your Personality Predicted your Pandemic Response

Woman and man wearing masks due to covid19 sharing a kiss

As we look back over the last 12 months spent living in the midst of a pandemic with social distancing, self isolation, lockdowns and stress, how did your personality type affect you? Our resident psychology expert broke it down for us. 

When the first lockdowns became a reality early in 2020 there was a lot of talk about how Introverts were loving being on their own, and that Extroverts were climbing the walls. But like our sexuality, we are all on a sliding scale and where we fall on that scale varies. 

Extraversion is only one of the Big Five Personality Traits. Although there are tests available such as Myers Briggs, you don’t need to do an online test to work out where you are on the scale. From the following descriptions you will instinctively get an idea of which traits you feel are more "you". There is no right or wrong way, there is just a sliding scale of traits that make up a whole. 

Openness: As it says on the box, this is about how open or closed you are to new experiences. How imaginative you are. How much you crave variety or whether you might be independent rather than conformist.

Conscientiousness: This is about whether you are organised rather than disorganised. It is about having an attention to detail. Careful versus careless. How self-disciplined you are.

Emotionality: This is about how much you worry as opposed to being calm or feeling insecure rather than secure about yourself. Score too highly on this trait, and you might find you are also prone to anxiety.

Agreeableness: Generally getting on well with others, but if you are too extreme, you may let other people have their way to avoid conflict. But it is also the measure of whether you are trusting of others or suspicious. Those who score extremely low on this trait may find that they seek conflict and are not willing to suppress their anger just to keep the peace.

Extraversion: Those that thrive on being around lots of people, they are seen as fun-loving as opposed to the more reflective, more reserved end of the scale known as Introversion. 

But the headlines got it wrong as Introverts also seek company and they will find having their, admittedly smaller and less frequent social interactions, taken away from them by social isolating just as hard as the Extravert will. It just might have looked different as they quietly reflected on their situation and perhaps wrote a journal. While the Extravert was uploading their new parody song about how hard life was for them during the pandemic. The video will feature them as not only the whole band but they will be their own back up dancers as well.

So how did the whole lockdown / social distancing / physical distancing affect our online dating experience, and did we learn anything from it? 

The pandemic gave many singles time to assess what they were looking for in potential future partners. They say opposites attract when it comes to relationships. And I think that having some experiential differences is great, but having completely different personality types can be asking for conflict. Take the personality traits most talked about during the height of covid, Extraversion and Introversion. One will want to go to parties, meet new people and will happily be the centre of attention, the other won't. So in anything long term, there will be conflict and compromise. An Introvert is going to find it hard to go to a sex party, so it would be unfair to expect that of them. The Extravert, in that case, would have to compromise and perhaps settle for swinging with a trusted couple. But then again, what if the Introvert also scores low on Openness. Then the compromise might end up being monogamy. However, if they score highly on agreeableness perhaps over time, you might be able to get them in the mood to swing.

When meeting someone online, my advice pre-pandemic used to be not to get too intimate with someone you hadn't met in person. Emailing and texting can mean that you miss a lot of non-verbal clues to what sort of personality you are dealing with. You may form an attachment to someone, and when you finally meet, you may feel like 'this is not the droid you were looking for' and this is why Zoom dating became so popular and why the Adult Match Maker webcam and chat rooms were so busy. 

For those in relationships this pandemic was a time when your differences often loomed larger than when you had more time apart to pursue your own needs. So yes, the introvert has some better skill sets around coping with lockdown restrictions and social distancing, but only if they score highly on Openness. You see not socialising at all is very different from wanting to limit your exposure to new people and large social gatherings. It may be that the Extravert in the house is coping better because they do score highly on Openness and agreeableness and is Zooming away and putting up stuff on TikTok and chatting away with strangers online and having a ball.

But don’t pigeonhole yourself or your partner/potential partner by just one single personality type. How about thinking about it in terms of how open are you/they? Where do you both land on the Agreeableness scale? What does your level of Emotionality look like, and how does it affect your sex life? How Conscientious you are could mean that you never stand anyone up but on the other end of the scale it might mean you are lax about contraception. Take the time to reflect on who you are. You may find there are aspects of your personality that, although you don't want to change them, you are prepared to adjust some of your behaviour to accommodate significant others in your life. Or you may not.

When it comes to communicating with people, you don't know very well, like in chat rooms, for instance, don't assume that everyone has the same style of interaction as you. Everyone has a different way of communicating with others and it may not be in a way that works for you. That doesn't make it wrong. Maybe they are low on Openness, and chatting to strangers is awkward and uncomfortable for them. Or they may score highly on Emotionally and are overreacting to what is happening.

No matter where you land on any of the personality traits, you are able to adjust your behaviour. Try assuming they didn't mean to be negative or annoying. If however they are deliberately being pains in the arse or hurting others feelings I would definitely advise stepping back and not interacting with them. You can't change other people's personalities. Only your reactions to them.

Being aware of where you sit on this scale means you can make better decisions about how you should communicate with someone with a different mixture of traits. The trick during the last 12 months was accepting that others don't feel the same way as you and then (this is the tricky bit) sit with your own discomfort about that and decide to be okay with it.

We are all capable of growth. We may not be able to change who we are, but we can change how we see the world and how we treat other people.

1 comment

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  • zonavar69


    More than a month ago

    Emma I noticed you decribed basically the 'OCEAN' scoring process - Openness Conscientiousness Extroversion Agreeablness Neuroticism - I find that because I'm emotionally intelligent but don't have any sort of 'standard' availability plus I think for myself instead of being a 'sheeple' that it makes dating incredibly difficult, and on a site like this where sex-positivity is pushed as a core value with the underlying focus on couples and woman, as a single mature-age guy I'm just not seeing that reflected in the results.

    Everyone's life experience is different of course.


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