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A new study to explore the effect of social distancing has launched, and seeks volunteers

Published: 20 April 2020


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Take part in the study

Researchers at the University of Oxford are looking for volunteers from across the globe to take part in a new study looking into how social distancing has affected their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Volunteers can complete the online survey, which will track people's feelings and experiences over a 3-month period.

The study is being conducted by an international group of researchers led by Dr. Bahar Tuncgenc, from the University of Nottingham's School of Psychology and the Social Body Lab at the University of Oxford. 'Keeping distance from our loved ones, especially in such uncertain and threatening times, is an unusual and at times difficult way to be asked to live. We want to find out how these distancing measures have been affecting people's daily lives and what they may have been doing to help get through it,' says Dr. Tuncgenc.

The study aims to understand what motivates people to adhere to the practice of distancing and how it affects people's social interactions and mood. The researchers are targeting a wide range of countries including Australia, Bangladesh, China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, and USA.

‘Massive cooperation is required to tackle coronavirus,' says Dr Martha Newson, researcher on the study from the School of Anthropology, University of Oxford. 'Human beings are an incredibly social species. The effects of isolation could lead to severe, lasting effects on wellbeing and mental health. In tandem with medical research, we need strong research into how the pandemic is affecting our wellbeing.'

Professor Ophelia Deroy, from the Munich Center for Neuroscience at the Ludwig Maximilian University, in Germany says, 'Politicians have widely called upon individual civic virtue when asking people to observe social distancing. Our study goes beyond the individual scale: we also want to see how people get influenced by others around them. For example, if I think others are lenient on social distancing policies, am I more likely to be lenient as well?' Answers to these types of questions could provide valuable information for policymakers.

Dr. Tuncgenc continues, 'By targetting over a dozen countries, we will have a unique opportunity to look at how cultural values play a role in people's experiences. Ultimately, our goal is to help make effective policies, and for that, you need to understand people's social, psychological and cultural needs.'

Take part in the study