World after
How do we navigate
the changes ahead?
How do we navigate
the changes ahead?
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Veronica Benet Martinez, Cultural Psychology & Personality


Cultural Psychology & Personality

Veronica Benet Martinez

Benet Martinez

Verónica Benet-Martinez holds an endowed position as an ICREA Professor at Pompeu Fabra University, where she also serves as the head of the Behavioral and Experimental Social Sciences research group. One of the world’s leading researchers on multicultural identity and experience, she has received numerous awards and serves in leadership roles at multiple journals and professional societies.

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Which domain or aspect of social life will show the most significant positive societal and/or psychological change in response to the pandemic?

I believe that one of the positive changes for sure has been the strengthening of relationships. The confinement, combined with fear, have really made people feel much more picky about which relationships to maintain and cultivate, namely family, close ones. But also has allowed opportunities for meeting new people that maybe have joined your classes or your zoom parties and you have had an opportunity to kind of get to know them in a non-interrupted way during the zoom party or zoom meeting. It’s been a sort of a much more kind of focused microscopic way of looking at this relationship. I’m sure some new emergent friendships with neighbors have emerged. I would say the main positive change will be the strengthening of relationships we deem important. The second gain, I would say, is the savoring of experiences. I think that this uncertainty we have hovering over our heads all the time, has made us really savor whatever positive experiences we have, some of them social, some of them individual, and realize that they’re special, that they’re wonderful and that we have taken them for granted.


What kind of wisdom will people need to capitalize on the positive societal and/or psychological change after the pandemic?

Besides the risk assessment in decision making about how people have to be quick and more practiced and smart about assessing risk and deciding whether to engage in interaction with certain others and certain activities in consideration with their needs, the fear as well as the age and the life perspective. Some people may think, well, I’m willing to take the risk and if I get sick, I think I am healthy and I rather take the risk now than not being able to take it in 10 years, as I mentioned before. I think wisdom about priorities, what’s important in life. And I think that we definitely now value much less this need to engage in novelty and activities that involve arousal and a lot of things that sometimes for you are driven by fear of missing out, and I think now we are going to be more interested in meaning and connection and experiences that we can truly savor.


Which domain or aspect of social life will show the most significant negative societal and/or psychological change in response to the pandemic?

I think, the ones that come to mind very easily, I’m sure to many others also, is fear of socializing and being out, that many people probably have some sort of existential despair about the fate of society and humanity. Helplessness about loss of life, loss of significant others, jobs opportunities. Being unable to use one’s skillset. I know people who basically will have to completely change their profession, because they have jobs that are basically going to disappear. So a frustration to see your professional identity, go out of the window like that, because of a pandemic where certain things and certain activities cease to exist. And I think all of this is going to be magnified for individuals who struggle with mental health issues and who have lack of social support and professional resources and stability.


What kind of wisdom will people need to master to overcome major negative societal and/or psychological changes after the pandemic?

I think that one that is very important is to never lose hope and optimism. Humankind has been able to overcome all kinds of challenges, historical, the macro level, that now we learn about in history books. We have to remain hopeful and optimistic about our future generations and hopefully our even current generations. Those of us who are alive now in our ability to seek this come to an end. I think that meaning-making is a very important ability, skill, form of wisdom that we need to have to be able to write a story about what’s been happening, integrate this in the story of our lives, and who we are, and share those stories with others. And also very important to maintain social connections and social support that in the past, we were busy with our very varied and dynamic and highly mobile lives we were not perhaps cultivating as much as we are now.

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