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Currently submitted to: JMIR Formative Research

Date Submitted: May 19, 2020
Open Peer Review Period: May 19, 2020 - Jul 14, 2020
(currently open for review)

Warning: This is an author submission that is not peer-reviewed or edited. Preprints - unless they show as "accepted" - should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information.

Exploring Psychological Effects of Residential Lockdowns in China: A Study by Weibo Psycho-linguistic Analysis

  • Peijing Wu; 
  • Sijia Li; 
  • Zeyu Liu; 
  • Yilin Wang; 
  • Tianli Liu; 
  • Xiaoqian Liu; 
  • Nan Zhao; 
  • Tingshao Zhu; 

ABSTRACT

Background:

With the rapid spread of COVID-19, strict residential lockdowns have been implemented in most parts of Chinese regions. Millions of people cannot leave their homes except for special reasons. While it played an essential role in curbing public panic and promoting preventive behaviors, it might have impacts on human psychological states as well.

Objective:

The objective of this study was to explore the psychological impacts of residential lockdowns.

Methods:

We collected more than 150,360 weibo messages from 5,370 Chinese active users, extracted psycho-linguistic features from these messages and applied the 2(lockdown vs non-lockdown) x2(before vs after lockdown) repeated measure analysis of variance (RM ANOVA).

Results:

The results showed that the use of positive emotion words was decreased by residential lockdowns generally (F (5370) = 7.926, P < .001). In high-endemic areas, residential lockdowns also reduced the use of Harm-Virtue words (F (3447) = 7.729, P = .005) and Fairness-Vice words (F (3447) = 10.298, P = .001). Meanwhile, raised the frequency of Authority-Virtue words (F (3447) = 4.502, P = .034), exclusion words (F (3447) = 4.518, P = .034) and inhibition words (F (3447) = 10.154, P = .001).

Conclusions:

Residential lockdowns have generally caused a decline in positive emotions, which might influence human physical and mental health. But no evidence showed that it explicitly induced a specific negative emotion. Other impacts were more evident in high-endemic areas. It might be related to the high epidemic threat and the urgent need for social distancing in these areas.


 Citation

Please cite as:

Wu P, Li S, Liu Z, Wang Y, Liu T, Liu X, Zhao N, Zhu T

Exploring Psychological Effects of Residential Lockdowns in China: A Study by Weibo Psycho-linguistic Analysis

JMIR Preprints. 19/05/2020:20452

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.20452

URL: https://preprints.jmir.org/preprint/20452

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