Copyright: Universität Konstanz

COVID-19 restrictions: The impact of resources

How did people perceive restrictive measures during the COVID-19 pandemic? How was their daily well-being affected by them? And how did this influence their support for the measures? A team of scientists of the University of Konstanz have now published their findings on psychological well-being during the pandemic in PLOS ONE.

During the last few years, governments took various measures against the spread of COVID-19, ranging from the duty to wear masks to complete lockdowns. In a cross-sectional web survey Yury Shevchenko, postdoctoral researcher in the iScience group at the University of Konstanz’s Department of Psychology, and his colleagues identified several factors that increased people’s stress-levels due to restrictive measures, for instance financial loss.

Major factors creating stress
How did the personal economic situation, social contacts and the intensity with which people informed themselves about the pandemic influence the level of stress they felt due to the restrictive measures? In a web survey of 685 participants, conducted between October 2020 and December 2021, the scientists found that financial loss was one of the major factors in creating stress. Those who found the situation particularly stressful were also less supportive of the COVID-19 measures. Shevchenko explains: "Our results indicate that financial loss may play a greater role in stress and support for restrictive measures than income level. According to our study, income level did not appear to be a significant factor".

Although individuals with more children showed higher life satisfaction, they felt more stressed with restrictive measures like social isolation, and were less supportive of them. Not surprisingly, more intense restrictive measures – such as social distancing – generally were associated with higher stress levels and met with less support. In contrast, persons who regularly informed themselves about COVID-19 were more likely to approve such measures.

The importance of social contacts
To overcome methodological limits of a one-time survey, the researchers also conducted a random – non-representative – longitudinal study in spring 2021, in which 46 participating students were asked daily about their well-being for one month. In particular, sufficient social contacts and being outdoors improved the participants’ perception of well-being.

"Our findings support the resource and demand framework," explains Shevchenko. "It states that people with access to resources, both material and non-material ones, such as social contacts and information, can better cope with the demands of restrictive policies and are more likely to evaluate them positively. And individuals who support restrictions are more likely to comply with them".

Key facts:

  • Original publication: Y. Shevchenko, N. Huber & U.-D. Reips (2023) "Psychological well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: Combining a Web survey with Experience Sampling Methodology", PLOS ONE,
  • Study examined how economical, socio-emotional and informational resources impacted the way COVID-19-related restrictive policies were perceived. Additional longitudinal study measured life satisfaction, negative emotions, and sufficiency of resources on a daily basis.
  • Ulf-Dietrich Reips is Professor of Research Methods, Assessment, and iScience at the University of Konstanz’s Department of Psychology. Yury Shevchenko is postdoctoral researcher in his group and has developed Open Lab, a web platform for conducting online studies. Noemi Huber is a research assistant in Reips’s group.