“The New Normal”: Suggested Readings


1. Social, Financial and Psychological Stress during an Emerging Pandemic: Observations from a Population Web-Based Survey in the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey of 13000 Canadian on predictors of COVID-related stress. Independent factors associated with increased stress were:

  • having a mental disorder
  • female sex
  • having underage children
  • heavier alcohol consumption
  • working with the general public
  • shorter sleep duration
  • younger age
  • less time elapsed since the start of the outbreak
  • lower stress before the outbreak
  • worse symptoms that could be linked to COVID-19
  • lower coping skills
  • worse obsessive-compulsive symptoms related to germs and contamination
  • personalities loading on extraversion, conscientiousness and neuroticism
  • left-wing political views
  • worse family relationships
  • and spending less time exercising and doing artistic activities

**[not reported in paper]:  Ethnicity: results were not super stable, but tended towards whites being more stressed [will take a closer look for a subsequent paper on demographics];  Higher SES also seemed linked to more stress; Social media use modulated higher stress in youth, but not older people.  More so for females than males.

2.  Anxiety and Depression in COVID-19 Survivors: Role of Inflammatory and Clinical Predictors. I wish the authors had measured media exposure, social media use, and other “exposure to fear culture” variables. The study could not establish a causal link between covid, increased inflammation, and psychopathology, and per-existing psych conditions were a strong predictor. The authors are transparent about this, but the press is already spinning a “covid causes psychiatric problems” story.

3.  Shinobu Kitayama mentioned “relational mobility” as an interesting and important social variable that may predict different COVID-related outcomes in difference societies.  Our colleague Andrew Ryder wrote a Psychology Today blog post on just this question (“When Culture Promotes Mobility Does It Also Promote Disease?”).


Collins, H., & Evans, R. (2017). Why democracies need science. Polity.


Berg, M. K.,  Yu, Q., Salvador, C. E., Melani, I., & Kitayama, S. (2020). Mandated bacillus calmette-guérin (BCG) vaccination predicts flattened curves for the spread of COVID-19. Science Advances, 6, eabc1463. [pdf]

Habersaat, K. B., et al. (2020). Ten considerations for effectively managing the COVID-19 transitionNature Human Behaviour, 4, 677–87. [pdf]

Salvador, C. E., Berg, M. K., Yu, Q., San Martin, A., & Kitayama, S. (2020). Relational mobility predicts a faster spread of COVID-19: A 39-country study. Unpublished manuscript. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

Van Bavel, J. J., et al. (2020). Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response [Perspective]. Nature Human Behaviour. [pdf]

Yu, Q., Salvador, C. E., Melani, I., Berg, M. K., & Kitayama, S. (2020). The lethal spiral: Racial segregation and economic disparity jointly exacerbate the COVID-19 fatality in large American cities. Unpublished manuscript. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

DANIEL LENDE (Moderator)

Beck, U. (2020, August 1). The sociologist who could save us from coronavirus. Foreign Policy. [pdf]

Chaudhary, A. S.  (2020, April). We’re not in this together.  The Baffler, 51.


Tidwell, T. (2020, June 23). Covid-19 and Tibetan medicine: An awakening tradition in a new era of global health crisis [Editors’ forum]. Responding to an Unfolding Pandemic: Asian Medicines and Covid-19 [Series]. Society for Cultural Anthropology.