Is COVID-19 Changing Personality Assessment Scores?: One Year Later

A woman wears a surgical mask over her face as protection from the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’ve wondered if the pandemic could be changing personality assessment scores, you’re not alone. Is COVID-19 Changing Personality Assessment Scores?

March 11 marked the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring COVID-19 a pandemic. In May 2020, we analyzed changes in weekly mean scores during the seven weeks after the WHO declaration. At the time, we found little evidence of COVID-19 changing personality assessment scores, with the exception of statistically significant but minimal changes in Science and Altruism scores.

However, seven weeks may not have been sufficient for effects to show up. Over time, as stress from the pandemic and the changes it spurred in our lives accumulated, would we see widespread changes in personality or values? Would emotional volatility increase and change Adjustment scores? Would we lean even more on old derailers or find new ones? Would our motives change?

We wanted to see if personality assessment scores have changed in the past year. Following our earlier work, we grouped people using seven-day periods, counting backward and forward 52 weeks from the March 11 declaration. We had complete Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) data for 280,196 people, complete Hogan Development Survey (HDS) data for 208,556 people, and complete Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory (MVPI) data for 186,164 people. We used a slightly different analytic technique than we did last year, but this approach still allowed us to estimate two important changes: changes in scores at the time of the pandemic declaration (an initial effect) and mean weekly changes thereafter (an ongoing effect).

We combined the effect at the time of the pandemic declaration with the weekly effect, accumulated over 52 weeks, to estimate the total change since the pandemic began. We present those results in Figure 1. The changes are universally minimal. Cohen’s d values for the scales range from -.07 (MVPI Hedonism) to 0.07 (MVPI Science). For reference, Cohen recommends interpreting d values of 0.20 as small.


When we look at the initial and ongoing effects separately, we see two reasons for these results. For most scales, the pandemic appears to have had no sizable effect whatsoever. For a smaller set of scales, any initial effect has been reversed by ongoing effects trending in the opposite direction. For example, Hedonism scores decreased slightly around the time of the pandemic declaration. However, weekly Hedonism scores have been increasing since then, so the overall pandemic effect has weakened over time.

These results suggest two things. First, the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on personality and values scores has been largely nonexistent. Second, in even the few cases where the effects have been statistically significant but still minimal, weekly score trends are returning us to the pre-pandemic “normal.”

Want to learn more about personality tests? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Personality Tests