Qi Wang – Culture’s role in the experience of social isolation during COVID-19

Qi Wang, Chair of Human Development

Qi Wang, professor and chair of human development in the College of Human Ecology, is addressing the impacts of social distancing in the current context of COVID-19. She says social isolation can cause loneliness, but people can be proactive to counter the negative ramifications by staying connected via social media and other technological means.

Dr. Wang is exploring the role culture plays in how we experience social isolation. She co-authored an op-ed piece for Scientific American, What Social Distancing Reveals about East-West Differences. which proposes that the pandemic could spur psychological changes in both the U.S. and China.

Dr. Wang was awarded a Rapid Response Fund grant from the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and will lead a research team examining individual and cultural factors influencing the subjective experience of social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic and its relation to psychological well-being. Participants with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds will record twice a week their experiences related to social distancing for a period of time. Their personality, cultural orientation and well-being will be assessed at the beginning and end of the study, and then again in a year. Human development researcher Tong Suo and graduate students Li Guan and Yuchen Tian will join the study.