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      Large Gatherings? No, Thank You. Devaluation of Crowded Social Scenes During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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          Abstract

          In most European countries, the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (spring 2020) led to the imposition of physical distancing rules, resulting in a drastic and sudden reduction of real-life social interactions. Even people not directly affected by the virus itself were impacted in their physical and/or mental health, as well as in their financial security, by governmental lockdown measures. We investigated whether the combination of these events had changed people's appraisal of social scenes by testing 241 participants recruited mainly in Italy, Austria, and Germany in an online, preregistered study conducted about 50 days after the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe. Images depicting individuals alone, in small groups (up to four people), and in large groups (more than seven people) were rated in terms of valence, arousal, and perceived physical distance. Pre-pandemic normative ratings were obtained from a validated database (OASIS). Several self-report measures were also taken, and condensed into four factors through factor analysis. All images were rated as more arousing compared to the pre-pandemic period, and the greater the decrease in real-life physical interactions reported by participants, the higher the ratings of arousal. As expected, only images depicting large gatherings of people were rated less positively during, compared to before, the pandemic. These ratings of valence were, however, moderated by a factor that included participants' number of days in isolation, relationship closeness, and perceived COVID-19 threat. Higher scores on this factor were associated with more positive ratings of images of individuals alone and in small groups, suggesting an increased appreciation of safer social situations, such as intimate and small-group contacts. The same factor was inversely related to the perceived physical distance between individuals in images of small and large groups, suggesting an impact of lockdown measures and contagion-related worries on the representation of interpersonal space. These findings point to rapid and compelling psychological and social consequences of the lockdown measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic on the perception of social groups. Further studies should assess the long-term impact of such events as typical everyday life is restored.

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          Most cited references 39

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          Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales.

          In recent studies of the structure of affect, positive and negative affect have consistently emerged as two dominant and relatively independent dimensions. A number of mood scales have been created to measure these factors; however, many existing measures are inadequate, showing low reliability or poor convergent or discriminant validity. To fill the need for reliable and valid Positive Affect and Negative Affect scales that are also brief and easy to administer, we developed two 10-item mood scales that comprise the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The scales are shown to be highly internally consistent, largely uncorrelated, and stable at appropriate levels over a 2-month time period. Normative data and factorial and external evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for the scales are also presented.
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            Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health and Quality of Life among Local Residents in Liaoning Province, China: A Cross-Sectional Study

            Our study aimed to investigate the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and quality of life among local Chinese residents aged ≥18 years in Liaoning Province, mainland China. An online survey was distributed through a social media platform between January and February 2020. Participants completed a modified validated questionnaire that assessed the Impact of Event Scale (IES), indicators of negative mental health impacts, social and family support, and mental health-related lifestyle changes. A total of 263 participants (106 males and 157 females) completed the study. The mean age of the participants was 37.7 ± 14.0 years, and 74.9% had a high level of education. The mean IES score in the participants was 13.6 ± 7.7, reflecting a mild stressful impact. Only 7.6% of participants had an IES score ≥26. The majority of participants (53.3%) did not feel helpless due to the pandemic. On the other hand, 52.1% of participants felt horrified and apprehensive due to the pandemic. Additionally, the majority of participants (57.8–77.9%) received increased support from friends and family members, increased shared feeling and caring with family members and others. In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with mild stressful impact in our sample, even though the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. These findings would need to be verified in larger population studies.
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              Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis.

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                31 May 2021
                2021
                31 May 2021
                : 12
                Affiliations
                [1] 1Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Vienna , Vienna, Austria
                [2] 2Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Royal Netherlands Academy of Art and Sciences (KNAW) , Amsterdam, Netherlands
                [3] 3Department of Psychology, University of Essex , Colchester, United Kingdom
                [4] 4Department of Cognition, Emotion, and Methods in Psychology, University of Vienna , Vienna, Austria
                Author notes

                Edited by: Rosalba Morese, University of Italian Switzerland, Switzerland

                Reviewed by: Marco Viola, University of Turin, Italy; Concetta Papapicco, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy

                *Correspondence: Claudia Massaccesi claudia.massaccesi@ 123456univie.ac.at

                This article was submitted to Personality and Social Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2021.689162
                8201791
                8a7ce167-966c-4709-9dd8-acb3c208f180
                Copyright © 2021 Massaccesi, Chiappini, Paracampo and Korb.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 5, Equations: 0, References: 39, Pages: 10, Words: 7215
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research

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