Protectors of Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Key Roles for Gratitude and Tragic Optimism in a UK-Based Cohort

Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2021)
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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a global threat to physical and mental health worldwide. Research has highlighted adverse impacts of COVID-19 on wellbeing but has yet to offer insights as to how wellbeing may be protected. Inspired by developments in wellbeing science and guided by our own theoretical framework, we examined the role of various potentially protective factors in a sample of 138 participants from the United Kingdom. Protective factors included physical activity, tragic optimism, gratitude, social support, and nature connectedness. Initial analysis involved the application of one-sample t-tests, which confirmed that wellbeing in the current sample was significantly lower compared to previous samples. Protective factors were observed to account for up to 50% of variance in wellbeing in a hierarchical linear regression that controlled for a range of sociostructural factors including age, gender, and subjective social status, which impact on wellbeing but lie beyond individual control. Gratitude and tragic optimism emerged as significant contributors to the model. Our results identify key psychological attributes that may be harnessed through various positive psychology strategies to mitigate the adverse impacts of hardship and suffering, consistent with an existential positive psychology of suffering.

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