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Journal article Open Access

Subjective ratings of emotive stimuli predict the impact of the COVID-19 quarantine on affective states

López-Carral, Héctor; Grechuta, Klaudia; Verschure, Paul F.M.J.

The COVID-19 crisis resulted in a large proportion of the world’s population having to employ social distancing measures and self-quarantine. Given that limiting social interaction impacts mental health, we assessed the effects of quarantine on emotive perception as a proxy of affective states. To this end, we conducted an online experiment whereby 112 participants provided affective ratings for a set of normative images and reported on their well-being during COVID-19 self-isolation. We found that current valence ratings were significantly lower than the original ones from 2015. This negative shift correlated with key aspects of the personal situation during the confinement, including working and living status, and subjective well-being. These findings indicate that quarantine impacts mood negatively, resulting in a negatively biased perception of emotive stimuli. Moreover, our online assessment method shows its validity for large-scale population studies on the impact of COVID-19 related mitigation methods and well-being.

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