Online search trends and word-related emotional response during COVID-19 lockdown in Italy: a cross-sectional online study.

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Date: Aug. 10, 2021
From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 8,002 words
Lexile Measure: 1500L

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Abstract :

Background The strong and long lockdown adopted by the Italian government to limit COVID-19 spreading represents the first threat-related mass isolation in history that can be studied in depth by scientists to understand individuals' emotional response to a pandemic. Methods We investigated the effects on individuals' mental wellbeing of this long-term isolation by means of an online survey on 71 Italian volunteers. They completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and Fear of COVID-19 Scale and judged valence, arousal, and dominance of words either related or unrelated to COVID-19, as identified by Google search trends. Results Emotional judgments changes from normative data varied depending on word type and individuals' emotional state, revealing early signals of individuals' mental distress to COVID-19 confinement. All individuals judged COVID-19-related words to be less positive and dominant. However, individuals with more negative feelings and COVID-19 fear also judged COVID-19-unrelated words to be less positive and dominant. Moreover, arousal ratings increased for all words among individuals with more negative feelings and COVID-19 fear but decreased among individuals with less negative feelings and COVID-19 fear. Discussion Our results show a rich picture of emotional reactions of Italians to tight and 2-month long confinement, identifying early signals of mental health distress. They are an alert to the need for intervention strategies and psychological assessment of individuals potentially needing mental health support following the COVID-19 situation.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A671350110