Roxane Cohen Silver, Social Psychology & Health
Social Psychology & Health
Roxane Cohen Silver is an international expert in the field of stress and coping. She has received numerous awards for her scholarship, service and mentorship. She has guided governments in the U.S. and abroad in the aftermath of terrorist attacks and earthquakes, is a founding director of Psychology Beyond Borders, and President of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences.
Transcription of the video
Which domain or aspect of social life will show the most significant positive societal and/or psychological change in response to the pandemic?
A few things that I expect will be different or at least, will have changed more quickly than we might have expected. First, I think that many people, certainly people who are, let’s say, middle aged and older are embracing technology in ways that they might not have realized that they would be able to do, and do so quickly. Universities have switched very quickly to remote instruction, and individuals are communicating with their families and friends, across the country and across the world in ways that they might not have done so before the pandemic. I also think that individuals will newly embrace flexibility and understanding how to cope with loss of control, how to cope with isolation, to see the value of compliance factors that I think many people who encounter stressful life events learn, as they cope with crisis. And now, as we have a worldwide crisis in which we are embracing, many people will learn those skills and the value of those factors sooner than they might have otherwise done.
What kind of wisdom will people need to capitalize on the positive societal and/or psychological change after the pandemic?
I think that people will need to recognize the value of flexibility and the value of compassion and the value of giving themselves a break, as they cope with these unprecedented times. I think that many people who’ve encountered tragedy before have learned the value of flexibility and compassion. But I think that now, many more people will be embracing and need to learn those values and embrace those values sooner than they might have expected to have to do so.
Which domain or aspect of social life will show the most significant negative societal and/or psychological change in response to the pandemic?
I’m most concerned about isolation, both isolation from one’s loved ones and isolation amongst countries or within countries, not embracing the value of working with other people across the world. The necessity for isolation and lockdown across the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has led many people to lose touch with others, and again, it requires them an enormous amount of energy to reach out to others, the technology that we have available to us, but I am concerned about isolation and the psychological consequences of isolation and the societal consequences of isolation.
What kind of wisdom will people need to master to overcome major negative societal and/or psychological changes after the pandemic?
People are going to need to embrace flexibility and comfort with loss of control, comfort with ambiguity, and we’ll need also to engage in reaching out to others when they feel distraught or when they feel particularly distressed, and people may need to reach out to their loved ones to ensure that they too are coping well.
What piece of wisdom do people need to make it through the pandemic?
I think the number one piece of wisdom is that we’re all in it together. And that has been bandied around but I think that it is really the case that it is important for us to protect our loved ones, protect our friends, protect their neighbors, and in doing so we will protect ourselves.
Themes discussed in this interview