Emerging Adults and COVID-19: The Role of Individualism-Collectivism on Perceived Risks and Psychological Maladjustment.


The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has dramatically changed our habits and routines. Uncertainty, insecurity, instability for the present and future, and reduced autonomy and self-directedness, are common feelings at the time of COVID-19. These aspects are very important during emerging adulthood. In spite of the fact that medical reports suggest that youth are less prone to experience COVID-19 infections, emerging adults might be at higher risk for their psychological adjustment. Emerging adults showed higher concerns about their role as a possible asymptomatic carrier than being positive with COVID-19 themselves. Both worries and concerns about COVID-19 and psychological maladjustment may be related to cultural factors. Individualism, collectivism, equality, and hierarchy seem to be meaningful perspectives to take into account. A total of 1183 Italian emerging adults were asked to fill out an online survey during the second week of the national lockdown in Italy. Results showed they reported an accurate perceived knowledge about COVID-19. At the same time, they showed higher worries and concerns about COVID-19 for their relatives, followed by more general/social worries. The lowest score included worries about COVID-19 related to themselves. State anxiety and stress levels were above the normal cutoff, confirming the challenges that emerging adults are facing during the pandemic. On one hand, emerging adults’ collectivistic orientation was related to higher perceived risks of infection; on the other hand, it predicted lower psychological maladjustment, controlling for socio-demographic variables. The study suggests that to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and decrease levels of psychological maladjustment in emerging adulthood, individuals’ cultural orientation such as the wish of sharing common goals with others, interdependence, and sociability, have to be emphasized and promoted as protective factors.

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