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Real-time individual benefit from social interactions before and during the lockdown: The crucial role of personality, neurobiology and genes.

By Maximilian Monninger, Pascal M Aggensteiner, Tania M Pollok, Iris Reinhard, Alisha S.M. Hall, Lea Zillich, Fabian Streit, Stephanie H. Witt, Markus Reichert, Ulrich Ebner-Priemer, Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, Heike Tost, Daniel Brandeis, Tobias Banaschewski, Nathalie E Holz

Posted 03 Jun 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.02.446719

Background: Social integration is a major resilience factor for staying healthy. However, the COVID-19-pandemic led to unprecedented restrictions in social life. The consequences of these social lockdowns on momentary well-being are yet not fully understood. Method: We investigated the individual affective benefit from social interactions in a longitudinal birth cohort study. We used two real-time, real-life ecological momentary assessments once before and once during the initial lockdown of the pandemic (N~6800 total observations) to determine the protective role of social interactions on well-being. Moreover, we used a multimethod approach combining the ecological assessment data with individual risk and resilience factors to analyze the moderating mechanisms of personality, neurobiology and genes. Results: Social contacts were linked to higher positive affect both during normal times and during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the beneficial role of social embedding. Moreover, this relationship was moderated by amygdala volume, neuroticism and polygenic risk for schizophrenia. In detail, participants with a larger left amygdala volume and higher trait neuroticism exhibited an affective benefit from more social interactions prior to the pandemic. This pattern changed during the pandemic with participants with smaller amygdala volumes and lower neurotic traits showing a social affective gain during the pandemic. Moreover, participants with low genetic risk for schizophrenia showed an affective benefit from social interactions irrespective of the time point. Conclusion: Our results highlight the protective role of social integration on momentary well-being. Thereby, we offer new insights into how this relationship is differently affected by a person's neurobiology, personality, and genes under adverse circumstances.

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