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Press Release

New Study: 78% of Australians Reported a Change in Personality Traits Due to COVID-19

Australians feel smarter, open to new experiences, and more conscientious, and less connected to family, friends, and romantic partners

Sydney—10 May 2021
financial services

The global pandemic has changed our personalities according to a new study by Oracle. The representative survey of 3,200 consumers in the UK, America and Australia found that the circumstances created by COVID-19 have made many people feel smarter and more open to new experiences, but also more conscientious and disconnected from their personal relationships.

 

Nicer, More Open Personalities Emerge

The global pandemic has changed people’s personalities, with Australians reporting increased conscientiousness, openness to new experiences, and agreeableness.

  • A majority of Australian respondents (78 percent) say they saw a change in at least one of the five major OCEAN” personality traits due to COVID-19.
  • Becoming more conscientious (36 percent) and open to new experiences (31percent) were the most common personality changes.
  • Despite the stresses of the moment, one-third (30 percent) of people reported increased agreeableness due to the global pandemic.
 

Increased Online Activity and New Hobbies Have Us Feeling Smarter

More time at home has led to reading, streaming, and new hobbies, making Australians feel smarter.

  • 70 percent of Australians say they have read more and learned more during the pandemic and feel smarter. This was equal with their US counterparts and more than their UK counterparts (63 percent).
  • A majority (61 percent) say the media source they spend the most time on is either social media or streaming media.
  • Gen Z respondents are especially likely to say they spend the most time on short form video such as TikTok: 31 percent compared to 4 percent overall in Australia
  • 54 percent also started at least one “trendy” hobby during the pandemic with the three most common hobbies being at-home workouts (37 percent), baking sourdough bread or banana bread (17 percent), and filming TikTok videos (13 percent)
  • And while some binge shopped and accrued more belongings (23 percent), others decluttered (22 percent) and decreased the amount of personal belongings during the pandemic.
 

Romance and Relationships Redefined

Social distancing measures have taken a significant toll on romantic relationships, as well as relationships with friends and family.

  • Among the 35 percent of Australian respondents who identified as single, 38 percent said they felt lonelier with 58 percent having spent lockdowns alone.
  • 14 percent of Australians changed their relationship status during the pandemic (compared to 27 percent of Americans). The most common relationship change was breakup or divorce (9 percent compared with 19 percent of Americans and 11 percent of British respondents), while only four percent got engaged or married.
    • Among those who went through a breakup or divorce, only 37 percent were able to dissolve the relationship with an in-person conversation. Gen Z respondents globally, and 36 percent of UK respondents, were most likely to breakup over text message.
    • Only 3 percent of Australians broke up via ‘ghosting’, compared to 11 percent of Americans and 6 percent of British.
  • 36 percent of Australians report their relationships with friends becoming less connected, compared to 13 percent who became closer with friends. In addition, 61 percent of Australians reported making no new friends over the past year.
  • More than 70 percent of Australians say their relationships with family changed, with 22 percent feeling less connected from their family. However, 34 percent believe the pandemic brought their family closer together.
 

Australians Adapt to New Normal, But Are Excited to Get Out Again

People quickly embraced technology without missing the old work rituals of commuting or being professionally dressed, but we do yearn for post-pandemic experiences.

  • Tracksuits and pajamas (32 percent), have become the most popular attire among the 46 percent who use video conferencing for work, while 12 percent of Australians say they’ve been partially naked on a work Zoom call
  • People missed hugging the most (64 percent) while commuting to work was most commonly not missed (41 percent).
  • Business travel (85 percent) and getting dressed or groomed professionally for work (76 percent) were also not missed
  • The most popular services or habits Australians formed during the pandemic, and will likely use again after, include:
    • Contactless / cashless payments (62 percent)
    • Delivery (49 percent)
    • Increased spending on groceries instead of restaurants (39 percent)
    • Virtual doctor appointments (35 percent)
  • 95 percent of Australians are planning to enjoy at least one previously restricted activity when it’s safe. In good news for airlines and hotels as borders begin to reopen interstate travel was the most commonly-selected top choice (26 percent).
  • More than half of people enrolled in loyalty programs (48 percent) are concerned that accrued rewards points will expire.
 

“We experienced several paradoxes over the last 13 plus months. We were lonely, yet more connected online. We were bored, yet took on many new hobbies. We were isolated from in-person learning, yet still feel smarter,” said Nate Skinner, senior vice president, Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience (CX). “Our lives were impacted in ways we couldn’t control, and our rapidly changing consumer habits make it hard for brands to keep up. The experiences of the last year will continue to have massive implications on our consumption and buying behaviour as we move forward in a post-pandemic era.”

Learn more about how these consumer shifts will impact how we consume goods and services personally and at work here.

 

Methodology

This sample of 3,200 adults in the UK, America and Australia (18 years or older) was surveyed between April 7, 2021 and April 9, 2021. The margin of error is 2.2% and no post-stratification of results was applied. The sample was initially collected with even gender distribution and age distribution designed to mirror consumer demographics. Oracle conducted and analysed this survey with a sample procured using the Pollfish survey delivery platform, which delivers online surveys globally through mobile apps and the mobile web along with the desktop web.

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