This paper aims to demonstrate early psychological concomitants of the Covid-19 pandemic in England on a sample of younger and older people.
A cross-sectional quantitative questionnaire (n = 1608) was conducted on the Prolific website. Participants completed the PERMA Scale (Flourishing), the four Office of National Statistics (ONS4) Well-being Questions, the Clinical Outcomes Measure in Routine Evaluation (CORE-10) and the short University of California Los Angeles Brief Loneliness Scale.
Data were gathered on March 18, 2020, near the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This study looks at the effects of the developing pandemic on younger participants (18 to 25 years, n = 391) and older participants (60 to 80 years, n = 104). Flourishing levels for older participants were significantly higher (M = 107.96) than for younger participants (M = 97.80). Younger participants scored significantly higher on the ONS4 for anxiety and lower than the older participants for happiness, life satisfaction and having a worthwhile life. Levels of psychological distress (CORE-10) were also significantly lower for older participants (M = 9.06) than for younger participants (M = 14.61). Finally, younger participants scored significantly higher on the Brief UCLA Loneliness Scale (M = 6.05) than older participants (M = 4.64).
From these findings, the Covid-19 pandemic was having a significantly greater effect on younger people in England, less than one week before the UK went into “lockdown”. Scores for both the Younger and Older groups on all the study measures were worse than normative comparisons. The study had no specific measure of Covid-19 anxiety, but nor was one available at the time of the survey.
This study suggests that younger people (18 to 25) may be a more vulnerable group during the Covid-19 pandemic than many may have realized.
As a recent British Psychological Society report concluded, there is a lot of untapped wisdom amongst older groups in society.