Personality trait analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic: a comparative study on social media

The COVID-19 pandemic, a global contagion of coronavirus infection caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has triggered severe social and economic disruption around the world and provoked changes in people’s behavior. Given the extreme societal impact of COVID-19, it becomes crucial to understand the emotional response of the people and the impact of COVID-19 on personality traits and psychological dimensions. In this study, we contribute to this goal by thoroughly analyzing the evolution of personality and psychological aspects in a large-scale collection of tweets extracted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The objectives of this research are: i) to provide evidence that helps to understand the estimated impact of the pandemic on people’s temperament, ii) to find associations and trends between specific events (e.g., stages of harsh confinement) and people’s reactions, and iii) to study the evolution of multiple personality aspects, such as the degree of introversion or the level of neuroticism. We also examine the development of emotions, as a natural complement to the automatic analysis of the personality dimensions. To achieve our goals, we have created two large collections of tweets (geotagged in the United States and Spain, respectively), collected during the pandemic. Our work reveals interesting trends in personality dimensions, emotions, and events. For example, during the pandemic period, we found increasing traces of introversion and neuroticism. Another interesting insight from our study is that the most frequent signs of personality disorders are those related to depression, schizophrenia, and narcissism. We also found some peaks of negative/positive emotions related to specific events.

keywords: COVID-19, Social Media, Big-5, Personality Analysis, Emotion Analysis