Coronavirus – Psychological perspectives

Psychologists are actively working on the response to Covid-19, and psychological theory / research is relevant in many ways… this page will serve as a growing resource collecting those contributions.

02 March 2020

In this evolving online resource, we will link to contributions from those considering the implications of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Click on the headlines to read the coverage. We are grateful to all those who have given their time and expertise so freely during a challenging period.

For an 'edited highlights' package which appears in our special summer edition, click here.

If you are working in this area or would like to write about research you consider of relevance, please email us on [email protected]

The British Psychological Society response 

Find support and resources via

There have been several live webinars, now hosted on the BPS YouTube channel. (including one hosted by our editor Dr Jon Sutton, 'Towards the new normal, and beyond', which you can watch by clicking the image at the top of the page or visiting  

"We had to bring people together"
Ella Rhodes hears from British Psychological Society President David Murphy and others about co-ordinating the BPS and frontline response.

Society comes together while apart
Ella Rhodes speaks to some of the British Psychological Society members working on its response to coronavirus.

'There are many narratives happening simultaneously, not one simple story'
Members of the British Psychological Society's Safeguarding Advisory Group consider experiences from a range of areas.

‘We can support the engagement of the wider community to develop solutions…’
Ella Rhodes reports on the British Psychological Society's efforts to provide support and guidance around coronavirus.

Keeping up with the psychology of the pandemic

'There are no good options'
Psychologists in the firing line, plus Society statement

The impact of Covid-19 on teaching staff
BPS survey

The public response

Don’t personalise, collectivise!
Stephen Reicher and John Drury
The two psychologies and Coronavirus
An updated and expanded consideration from Reicher and Drury, with Clifford Stott

The truth about panic
Stephen Reicher, John Drury and Clifford Stott on narratives around buying.

We are dynamite
Our editor Jon Sutton reports from Professor Stephen Reicher's opening keynote at the British Psychological Society's online 2020 Conference.

'What is remarkable about what we've achieved is that it's unremarkable'
Carl Walker seeks to make sense of the mutual aid response to coronavirus, and how to sustain it in an era of entrenched inequality.

The outbreak shows us the psychological makeup of our society
Dr Evangelos Ntontis Lecturer in Social Psychology (Canterbury Christ Church University)  

OK, Not-OK in times of pandemic
Giovanni Felice Pace takes an existential perspective.

How will you help to sustain collective efficacy? 
Daniella Watson has personally and professionally been part of the collective response to Covid-19.

Can we make jokes about coronavirus?
Sophie Scott on the time for humour in response to crisis.

'Resilience requires those in authority to be honest, open and consistent'
Chris Cocking on the dangers if 'we're in this together' feels like empty rhetoric.

Corporate volunteering – more than 'good for goodness sake'
Nishat Babu on benefits for employer and employee.

Collective emotions and Covid-19
Gavin Brent Sullivan (Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University).

Covid-19, trust, paranoia and compulsive buying
Rusi Jaspal and Barbara Lopes on their recent findings.

The psychology of 'Freedom Day'
How did the public behave after ‘freedom day’ and why?

Led by the science?

‘All interventions must stand up to scientific scrutiny’
Ella Rhodes hears from Professor Brooke Rogers OBE 

Social psychology of the coronavirus: Will flies save us?
Olivier Klein on the role of 'nudge theory' in the UK government response.

Informing and translating the evidence base
Susan Michie

'We need a certain amount of humility'
We hear from Stuart Ritchie about his concerns around the communication of psychological research during the coronavirus crisis.

Keep calm, and listen to the experts
Chris Keyworth

Vaccinating against viruses of the mind
David Robson on psychological efforts to achieve ‘herd immunity’ against the spread of misinformation in pandemic times; David also spoke with Sander van der Linden here.

Covid-19 and the media
Our journalist Ella Rhodes reports from a panel discussion at the British Psychological Society's online annual conference. 

10 lessons for dealing with a pandemic
...from Jolanda Jetten, Stephen Reicher, Alex Haslam and Tegan Cruwys.

Teaching Assistants are pivotal to a successful catch-up strategy
Rob Webster unravels the evidence behind the Department for Education's Covid guidance on deploying teaching assistants.

Following, listening, or genuinely engaging?
Our editor Jon Sutton reports from BPS Conference 2021, with a symposium featuring psychologists who have been a part of the UK pandemic response.


The virus itself

‘We will have to live with the risk of Covid-19… but Psychology has much to say about that risk’
Kavita Vedhara on the fascinating world of vaccine adjuvants and more.

Is loss of smell an early diagnostic indicator of COVID-19?
Evelina Thunell, Asifa Majid and Johan N. Lundström

How do we ensure the responsible and practical use of PPE?
Sandra Lovell on the place of Personal Protective Equipment in safety controls for Covid-19.

Coronavirus: why prison conditions can be a perfect storm for spreading disease
Anita Mehay (Research Fellow and Health Psychologist, UCL), Jane Ogden (Professor of Health Psychology, University of Surrey) and Rosie Meek (Professor of Criminology & Psychology, Royal Holloway).

‘The patients are just so sick…’
A Consultant Clinical Psychologist in Wales’ largest Intensive Care Unit in Cardiff, Dr Julie Highfield led the BPS Covid-19 Coordinating Group’s staff wellbeing work and has recently taken up a secondment with the Intensive Care Society as its National Project Director for Wellbeing. Ella Rhodes spoke to her.

Lessons from the ‘forgotten epidemic’
Jose Catalan and Damien Ridge look to HIV for pathways out of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Lockdown living

Positive pandemic?
Jennifer E. Symonds considers whether lockdown can actually improve your mental health and wellbeing.

'Supported isolation is likely to be particularly stressful'
Our journalist Ella Rhodes spoke to Dr Holly Carter and Dr Dale Weston, Public Health England.

Keeping your sense of meaning during lockdown
Rhi Wilmott

School's really out…
Naomi Fisher with an update to her recent article.

It's (virtual) happy hour again
Emma Davies and James Morris on alcohol during isolation.

All in this together? 
Dominic Conroy and Emily Nicholls on health behaviour changes during and beyond lockdown.

The last pleasure? 
Sharon Cox argues that now is not the time to afford smoking tacit approval.

What does the pandemic mean for gender equality?
Terri Apter writes; including a 'part two' on work-life balance.

Coronavirus and obsessive-type conditions
Craig Jackson is concerned for those who already have issues with handwashing.

Coping with life in isolation and confinement during the Covid-19 outbreak
Nathan Smith and Emma Barrett look to extreme environments for tips. See also their 'Support the workers' initiative, with many other experts in disaster response, crisis psychology and more.

Transitions with the Aging Rebels
Nancy K. Schlossberg with a personal and professional perspective on pandemic transitions for more senior people.

Keeping our distance
Holly Carter, Dale Weston, Clifford Stott, and Richard Amlôt on evidence-based strategies to promote adherence to COVID-19 social distancing measures.

'Can we go home now?'
Lauren Jenner on how experiences of the pandemic can help those without autism relate to those on the autism spectrum.

FlowUnlocked in East London
Dr Georgia Pavlopoulou, with the help of Jon Adams and Briony Campbell, reflects on a UCL-funded project to explore autistic people’s relationships during and after the lockdown.

What if 'the village' is closed?
Georgina Ferguson on having and raising a new baby during lockdown.

Fatherhood: a lockdown silver lining
Jim Davis on a study and report from Making Caring Common.

Close to home in the time of Covid-19
Ottilie Stolte and Darrin Hodgetts

Loneliness is lethal
Kate Rushby-Jones on the possible long-term psychological impact of lockdown for older adults living alone.

What does 'being more active' look like if you can’t leave the house?
Sarah O'Reilly on doing behavioural activation with older people during Covid-19.

Inanition in the liminal stage
Dr Sue Jackson seeks a useful description of where we are up to and what we are currently dealing with in the pandemic.

The harms of lockdown for young people
Psychologists are providing evidence summaries to highlight the risks and harms of lockdown for children and adolescents.

Families of autistic children impacted by lockdown
That's according to a study by University College London, the University of East London and the University of Bedfordshire.

Prison lockdown, Covid and gambling
Ella Rhodes reports.

Study in the time of Covid
Ella Rhodes reports.

Challenging boundaries of work space
Emma Young digests the latest research on working from home during Covid-19.

A charming social game
Molly Ghinn asks what’s behind the popularity of the game Among Us.

Lockdown: a time paradox?
Liam Myles

‘Informal families like ours seemed unaccounted for’
Peter Blaney is a mature psychology student and father caring for three children of family/friends.


Researching during the crisis

How psychology researchers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
Matthew Warren for our Research Digest.

‘A high stakes version of Groundhog Day’
Matthew Warren, editor of our Research Digest, with an update on the research response to Covid-19, and the issues raised.

Family research just got harder… and more important
Bonamy Oliver and Alison Pike on the need for study, how pandemic measures have affected it, and a possible solution.

'It felt vain and tone deaf to care about my PhD at all'
Emma Smith on the challenges of ongoing research during a global crisis.

RAMPing up a multidisciplinary understanding of Covid-19 impact
The Repeated Assessment of Mental health in Pandemics (RAMP) Study.

Time to embrace IM?
Taryn Talbott reflects on using Instant Messaging to conduct qualitative research remotely.

‘We cannot know where those lines of research will take us’
Liuba Papeo is prompted to reevaluate her life’s work…

‘Do not be silent in defending the social safety net’
Rebecca Graber on why (and how) to do community-oriented psychology research during Covid-19.

A new age of connectedness?
Maddi Pownall on how the coronavirus pandemic might shape psychologists' interactions with each other.

Supporting research that is truly valid and meaningful for the public
Sarah Redsell, Lynn Laidlaw, Judit Varkonyi-Sepp and Sarah Hotham on Public and Patient Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in Covid-19 research. Should we be aiming for perfection, or pragmatism?

What's the new normal for research?
Katie High (Research Assistant) and Alexandria Phillips (Research Therapist).

Covid’s impact on research and mental health
Ella Rhodes reports.

Support for psychology researchers during the pandemic
Covid-19 research hub.

Impact on research and mental health
Ella Rhodes reports.

Scraps from the table?
The impact on early career researchers.

Developments in psychology’s Covid research
Emma Barratt on ways of working and areas of interest.


Towards the new normal

Occupational wellbeing amidst a global health pandemic
Sarah Pickup with reflections on past, present and future.

The Benefits Project in Covid times
Will increased exposure to the benefits system in the wake of Covid-19 increase empathy for claimants? Kelly Camilleri, Katie Voss and Vicki Weare.

Children on the coronavirus
Dr Gail Sinitsky and Dr. May Lene Karlsen on how children should co-construct their ‘new normal’.

What do children think is 'normal'?
Janet Empson on children’s views of the coronavirus pandemic.

All change at school – a signpost to a good transition
Educational Psychologist Elizabeth Gillies considers models to help children deal with unexpected forks in the road.

Human animal relations in the new normal
Susan Brannick on a potentially neglected field.

Living with restrictions: Perspectives from a neurorehabilitation service
Lorraine Crawley learns from her clients in uncertain times.

A time for 'tragic optimism'?
Coralee Pringle-Nelson on post-traumatic growth.

‘Living wages are crucial now more than ever’
Ishbel McWha-Hermann and Rosalind Searle rethink poverty in the light of Covid-19. 

Sustainable transport after lockdown through changing habits
Colm Mulcahy on the role of habitual behaviours in sustainable transport post-lockdown.

Surviving in the present, thriving in the future?
Maria Gialama and Sinead McGilloway on meeting the psychosocial needs of refugee children/young people during Covid-19.

The psychology of physical distancing
As lockdown rules ease in the UK but distancing guidance remains in place, how can we use group norms to make distancing easier for people at mass gatherings? John Drury, Stephen Reicher and Nick Hopkins have some advice.

‘It’s everyone, everywhere, everything… There’s nothing that’s untouched’
Dr Rowena Hill is a psychologist from Nottingham Trent University now seconded full-time to the cross-governmental C19 National Foresight Group. On 1 May, our editor Jon Sutton spoke with her from lockdown. We then caught up with her again on 12 October, and again in March 2021.

Sustaining health and workability in a 'new normal'
Dr Jenny Lunt (University of Derby), Professor Kim Burton (University of Huddersfield), and Alan Bradshaw (Alt-OH).

When the veil of certainty falls
Eleonore Batteux considers whether the pandemic will change our desire to see the future as predictable.

‘We can come out of it poorer, but better’
Kim Stephenson and Pradnya Surana on the importance of reframing our relationship with money in pandemic times.

Moral progress after Covid-19 
Roger Paxton thinks a better society is not just possible but likely.

Be more Finland?
Sarah Norgate and Cary Cooper on remote work and psychological autonomy.

‘Nothing could be worse than a return to normality’
Can psychology save the world in a ‘new normal’? Lee Rowland curates 10 quotes… 

Collaborative learning despite remote working
Julia Norman on the enduring power of the collective brain, even in distanced times.

From tots to teens – psychology and the school return
Ella Rhodes reports.

"We are yet to see the fallout… when children return to school we'll get a better picture"
The 'attainment gap' between the most and least advantaged school pupils was brought into sharp focus after the furore over disparities in A-level results, and recent reports suggesting that years of progress to narrow this gap have been lost thanks to Covid-19 measures. Ella Rhodes spoke to two educational psychologists about their role in supporting pupils, families, schools and teachers to address the attainment gap.

The forgotten vulnerable
Psychologists and other colleagues from the London Youth Justice CAMHS forum share what they have heard from the youth justice population about the impact of Covid-19.

Can we adapt to this new reality?
As we attempt a return to a semblance of normality, behavioural strategies to reduce the transmission of infection have never been more important. Dr Stephen Blumenthal, clinical psychologist, considers the behavioural immune system – cross cultural differences in behaviours adapted over millennia to reduce contagion. Is this a moment when we change the way we think and interact?

Weathering the storm
Naomi Fisher looks to build a narrative of resilience for our children during Covid-19.

Understanding the Covid decade
British Academy report.

'Recovery will need to be the creation of a future'
The third interview with Dr Rowena Hill.

What do we mean by 'catch up'?
Ella Rhodes reports.

Pervasive fatigue: A lack of distance in times of distancing 
Amanda Diserholt on ‘a monotonous reality with no end in sight’…

Preparing for the new teaching term
As universities begin the autumn term either online, face-to-face, or a mixture of both, Ella Rhodes looked at what psychology and psychologists can tell us about new ways of learning…

‘The pandemic has highlighted the huge social divide that exists in the UK’
Vivian Hill talks attainment gaps, education and resilience.

Coping with remote working
Digesting the research

The pandemic and mental health
Episode 26 of our PsychCrunch podcast


Changing practice

A turning point for remote mental health care provision
Jeanne Wolstencroft

Living through a shared crisis with a client
Letticia Banton with reflections from a wounded-healer relational psychotherapy perspective.

The ‘new normal’ in parenting support?
Nicole Gridley on the use of virtual spaces.

A new understanding of stigmatised groups?
Natasha Hill, Hannah Jerome and Anna Smith consider the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable bariatric patients.

Digitally-mediated team communication in pandemic times and beyond
Lauren Jones on emerging lessons from the 'Somehow' project.

A letter to Psychology: Grieving the old, accepting the new
Elizabeth Haines, Lauren Taylor, Rachel Ison, Sarah Dunstan, Sarah Hollingsworth, Jessica Blumsom, Holly Ellerton and Danielle Hills.

Towards a step change in our political structures and contribution to the public good
Richard Pemberton and Tony Wainwright on using the lessons of Covid-19 to move on.

'You need it more than I do'
Olivia Sutton considers why hospital staff aren’t using the psychology support provided.

'Gerald seemed so remote when it came to talking about his feelings'
Stephen Blumenthal on gender relations coming out of lockdown.

Crossing the digital divide
Grace Bamber warns of the risk of leaving people behind.

Doing ‘well enough’
Rebecca Doyle, Claire Peatson and Rebecca Parmar with reflections from a female forensic service.

A jolt of transformation
Daren Lee takes a philosophical look at what the pandemic might mean for replicability and the efficacy of practice in psychology.

We are not out of the woods yet... But maybe the answers lie within the trees?
Jack Newton suggests a trauma-informed approach to support communities through the pandemic and beyond.

An unfamiliar therapist
Charalambos Costeris reflects on working during the pandemic with individuals who exhibit psychotic symptoms and Capgras syndrome.

ACTing my way through a pandemic
Samantha Ross on Imposter Syndrome, working From home and being an Assistant Psychologist during Covid-19.

Frontotemporal dementia in Covid-times
Kayleigh Watts, an Assistant Psychologist in the Neuropsychology Department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, considers frontotemporal dementia during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tics in the room and tics on Zoom
Dr Seonaid Anderson, Chartered Psychologist and freelance neurodiversity consultant, hears from Becky Simpson about being a therapist with Tourettes during Covid-19.

‘Mentally, the client had invaded that space’
Tia Moin on delivering online coaching – does it give you a false sense of safety and security?

‘This hid my shadow, my own uncertainty’
Counselling Psychologist Dr Sharon O’Driscoll on feeling pressure to ‘make the known unknown’ in therapy.

‘This group helps me to keep going’
Paul Moloney, David Dobel-Ober and Sarah Millichap have been using the internet to sustain a ‘Psychology in the Real World’ group for men with learning disabilities.

Being an honorary assistant psychologist during a pandemic
Has the experience been compromised?


The frontline

'There is a balance between their fears and their sense of duty'
Ella Rhodes hears from Dr Julie Highfield about supporting intensive care units.

When two worlds collide: values and morality
Janice Smith on the challenges of an acceptance-based approach with frontline health staff.

'It’s a kind of social meteorite'
Ella Rhodes on a British Psychological Society report, webinars and videos on the impact of Covid-19 on the wellbeing of psychologists.

No normal crisis
Ella Rhodes spoke to psychologists and staff in Colombian, Albanian and Irish psychological societies about their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the lessons they had learned.

Critical care for the mind and body
We hear from Dr Sobia Khan, a clinical psychologist helping Covid patients to recover mentally as well as physically.

Nobody is a superhero
Kathryn Lloyd-Williams, with input from colleagues nationally across healthcare settings, reflects on the impact of Covid-19 for the way they work, team dynamics and more.

'Gruelling but immensely rewarding'
Robert Bor on the role of a psychologist working in critical care medical settings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bereavement and loss

When the world is grieving, don’t walk on eggshells
Health Psychologist Angel Chater has spoken openly about bereavement over the last two decades. Here, she urges society to recognise and be open about loss.

Grieving at a social distance
Angelina Archer on bereavement during the coronavirus pandemic.

‘I asked Laura what she thought happens after death…’
Claudia Nielsen shines a light on the taboo subject of post-mortem consciousness.

‘The more who die, the less we care’
Our editor Jon Sutton on Professor Paul Slovic’s keynote at the British Psychological Society’s online conference, which had implications for the current crisis.

‘People are having a very different experience of death’ 
Ella Rhodes hears from those working on bereavement during the pandemic and beyond.


Making meaning, and making art

Making meaning in the midst of threat
Erin Beal on terror management and moving beyond existential crisis in ‘unprecedented times’.

Mental health literature in the time of coronavirus
Jerome Carson and colleagues on 'first person' accounts.

The virtue to survive
Nisha Pushpararajah with a personal perspective grounded in collectivism.

Tales of the unexpected
Sue Shea and Robin Wynyard on the 'day after', and whether major psychological theories are fit for purpose in such unusual times.

Cultivating wellbeing and mental health through gardening
Vaithehy Shanmuganathan-Felton, Luke Felton, Celia Briseid and Betty Maitland.

'Every stitch and row is a small win'
Lynne Rothwell on the benefits of knitting and other crafts during lockdown.

How I felt
Health Psychologist Karen Rodham gets creative during lockdown.

Me, myself and I
Nicholas Sarantakis draws at the ‘crossroads of the unconscious’.

The ambiguous crossroad
Imogen Mathews reflects on the themes and evidence underlying her artwork.

A rich visual language
Andréa Watts on taking a 'coaching through collage' tool online.

To sit it out or dance…
Natalia Braun on 'creatively adjusting' to the pandemic through rhythm and movement.

Bottling moments as a vaccine against inhumanity
Kevin Dutton on a creative collaboration with the cartoonist Rob Murray.

Voices of mental illness through the prism of photography
Hannah Harwood on the South East London Photography (SELPh) initiative, and taking it online during lockdown.

'What we feel within and dare make real…'
Alex Sayers on her social enterprise working with young care leavers.

‘We have to remember to find the beauty in what’s already at home with us’ 
Keon West’s photography from Instagram.

One thing I’ve learned about myself, or Psychology, during the pandemic…
For the summer edition, in place of our usual ‘Member of the month’, we thought we would put out a question on Twitter via @psychmag…

The Ickabog in lockdown
Hannah S. Gilson on the role of literature and imagination in limiting isolation.

'Languageless' health messaging to fight the pandemic
Psychologists involved in arts collaboration.

Towards the 'new normal', and beyond…

Our editor Dr Jon Sutton hosted a live webinar on 5 May to discuss 'the new normal, and beyond'. Speakers were Dr Rowena Hill (seconded to the Government's cross-departmental C19 foresight group), Professor Susan Michie (Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change) and Kathryn Scott (the British Psychological Society's Director of Policy). You can watch the recording.

Jon was also a panelist in a discussion on Covid and the media at the BPS Conference 2020. 


While many people feel anything but 'post-pandemic', our coverage in 2022 and 2023 has started to shift to new attitudes towards Covid, and long term impacts.

People think they're less likely to get Covid from friends than strangers

Teens and Covid

'Nothing like they had ever experienced before…'

We need to talk about long Covid

Long covid - plugging the gaps

Racial disparities in Covid outcomes

Coping through memes

The importance of 'survivor identity'