Kayla Benson, a Ph.D. student, presented her thesis defense titled Collective Action as Evidence for Posttraumatic Growth during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Kayla’s purpose for the thesis was to investigate collective action behaviors during COVID-19 and whether it could be an indicator of constructive PTG growth. Collective action is when people in a group work towards a common goal. Whether it was wearing a mask, avoiding large social gatherings, or remaining quarantined when sick, the pandemic presented an opportunity to investigate these preventative behaviors as collective actions.
Kayla gathered data from 354 participants, 302 of them were eligible for the analysis. These participants were recruited through Oakland University’s SONA system for credits. When it came to analyzing the data, it was found that there were no significant differences between those experiencing constructive PTG and engaging in more COVID-19 precautious behaviors. However, when exploring whether altruism could be different for those experiencing constructive PTG it was found to be different than those experiencing low PTG. Other interesting results include that while narcissism did not differ between the groups, optimism was different between constructive and low PTG; with the former being the higher of the two. Lastly, another analysis was run for participants who responded when there was no local mandate for wearing a mask. 204 participants were included in this analysis to see if wearing a mask would be more common for those experiencing constructive PTG despite the mandate being disbanded. The results unfortunately found no difference in mask-wearing behavior. Kayla is in the process of collecting more data related to this topic in order to conduct future analyses. There are several future directions for this field of study. One potential direction includes investigating the phenomenon of individual and collective trauma in stressful times. Utilizing a longitudinal design may also help to investigate other factors that would indicate constructive PTG growth. We cannot wait to see what you find next, Kayla!