Psychology Colloquium: A/Prof Sabina Kleitman (School of Psychology, University of Sydney)
Title: Adapting, surviving and thriving during different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic
Abstract: How do people maintain their mental well-being, adapt, and comply with different protective behaviours during COVID-19 in Australia & abroad? In this talk, I will discuss the fascinating findings of four studies focusing on the contribution of psychological, health-related, political, cultural, and circumstantial factors (like the impact of COVID-19 and demographics) on the quality of survival, adaptation and thriving during different stages of the pandemic.
Details of the studies:
Study 1 (April-May 2020): “The Great Unknown”—The peak of the 1st wave, marked by unprecedented uncertainty and the introduction of strictly enforced public health measures. This study included 1575 participants from Australia, the US, the UK, and Canada.
Study 2 (July-August 2020): “The 1st recovery stage”—Post first-wave lockdown, characterised by the easing of restrictions in Australia, except in Victoria, where the 2nd lockdown was imminent. This study was based on an Australian sample (N=453) (funded by the Australian Army HQ and done in collaboration with the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group).
Study 3 (October-November 2020): “The 2nd lockdown and recovery stage”— The final stages of the 2nd lockdown in Victoria, while the other states maintained a new ‘COVID normal’. This study was based on an Australian sample (N=1693) (collaboration with Prof Madeleine King and the Sydney Quality of Life Office)
Study 4 (Jan-March 2022): “The self-regulated stage”— Most restrictions were waived, the highly infectious Omicron variant spread, and vaccination and booster being promoted as the best, and often only, line of defence. This study was based on an Australian sample (N= 598) (collaboration with Prof Madeleine King and the Sydney Quality of Life team with the support of booster funds).
Across studies, the main findings are highly consistent. Certain psychological factors played a major role in adapting and thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic despite differences in regulations, demographic characteristics, and diverse situational factors, including COVID-related impacts, albeit they also played an important role.
Brief Bio: Associate Professor Sabina Kleitman’s expertise and principal research lie in decision-making, differential psychology, applied psychology, multivariate data analytics and human factors. Her research is cross-disciplinary, and she embraces diverse areas such as Psychology, Defence Sciences, Human Factors, Computer Science and Education. A/Prof Kleitman engages strategically with various industry partners, including the Australian Government Defence Science & Technology (DST) Group and Australian Army Headquarters with funded collaborative research programs. She and her team are pioneers in assessing resilience and decision-making using novel methodologies, simulation embedded metrics and computer log files. In her most current collaboration, she investigated the role of cognitive fitness constructs in adjustment and recovery during crises amid the unique situation presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. By invitation, she has recently joined the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Presidential Working Group for Pandemic Prevention.
Sabina’s h-index is 28. Her research is recognised nationally and internationally with more than 4,200 citations (https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=oLZEjwwAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao ) and national and international invited talks and fellowships.