Promoting Well-Being and Resilience Amidst Global Disruption

Dr. Louis Tay


The COVID-19 pandemic has left employees, students, families, communities scrambling. None of us are untouched by its rampant, swift, and widespread reach.

As nations and organizations around the world seek to find medical treatments for COVID-19, implementation of new regulations leading to school closures, travel restrictions, and social distancing have created new issues that social behavioral scientists are called on to collaboratively address. It is imperative as a scientific community that we apply our knowledge, research, and expertise to promote well-being and resilience amidst a time of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. Not as an intellectual or academic exercise, but as an inherently human responsibility.

Among many others, United States government agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health have issued calls for social behavioral scientists to address this global challenge. A recently published interdisciplinary project provides a good example of how a community of researchers is addressing emerging issues (see here for the full publication). Our team at ExpiWell has been working tirelessly with intrepid researchers who are jumping in to see how they can use data collection tools to better understand the social and behavioral challenges created by this pandemic.

Understanding everyday experiences is critical

Some of the work that needs to be done is real-time data collection to understand the moment-to-moment experiences of people and nudging ourselves toward greater resilience strategies, regulatory compliance, online social connection, and positive mindsets.

Understanding people’s everyday experiences can pinpoint how emotions, behaviors, and mood can change moment-to-moment in a given day. Real-time data collection methods include experience sampling methodology, ecological momentary assessment, ambulatory assessment, daily diary techniques, and so on. The better we understand the socio-emotional ups and downs of a person’s daily life along with the everyday context they’re confronted with, the better we can design daily nudges and begin to build positive behaviors and thinking in times of extreme adversity.

I do not have all the answers but I believe that many in our scientific community do – and can work toward providing important explanations to questions, such as:

  • What are the daily positive strategies of people sheltering-in-place and how can we nudge others to similarly adopt them?
  • Can we capture the experiences and networks of people in a neighborhood to understand how communities provide instrumental, tangible, and relational support to those in need?
  • Can we enhance coping and social support strategies for those diagnosed with COVID-19?
  • How can we deploy positive psychology interventions to encourage individuals who have been recently unemployed?
  • How can we promote productivity working from home while juggling family commitments?

Many people are reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and are seeking to find ways to survive the current landscape. By providing social scientific solutions, people, communities, and organizations not only can survive, but thrive and flourish in the face of extreme adversity. Let us as social scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovators utilize our collective knowledge, research, and expertise to understand and promote greater well-being and resilience in our world.

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