Sex Differences in Maladaptive Emotional and Behavioral Responses to COVID-19: What is the Role of Personality?
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Recent research indicates that males are more non-adherent to public health measures for containing COVID-19 while females experience more COVID-19-related distress. Personality traits may influence both non-adherence and distress. I examined sensation seeking (SS), anxiety sensitivity (AS), impulsivity, and hopelessness as traits potentially associated with non-adherence and distress in response to COVID-19. Furthermore, I sought to understand if known sex differences in SS (male>female) and AS (female>male) may explain sex differences on these two COVID-19 outcomes. In the first month of the pandemic, 400 adults (mean age=32.16 years; 45.3%F) completed the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale to assess personality. Degree of adherence to public health recommendations and COVID-19-related distress were also measured. Male sex was indirectly related to poorer adherence to stay-at-home advisories via SS, and female sex was indirectly related to higher COVID-19 distress via AS. Personality-targeted interventions may help reduce non-adherence and COVID-19 distress, potentially reducing sex differences.