‘You are there but not here’ – how effective are virtual contacts for stress buffering?
Human beings are social animals who rely heavily on face-to-face interactions and touch to deal with everyday stresses. Socially well-connected individuals are healthier, live longer and are generally less stressed. However, due to the social restrictions engendered by the Covid-19 pandemic, most people are suddenly cut off from physical contact with their friends and must rely on virtual interactions for social supports. But to what extent can virtual interactions provide the same benefits as in-person interactions? This question forms the focus of our new study run by Dr Julia Lehmann and Dr Colette Berbesque from Roehampton University.
The study consists of two parts. The most important part is the questionnaire. It will take about 20 minutes to fill in and will give us information about your (social) experiences during the COVID-19 crisis. To access the questionnaire please click here.
Once you have completed the questionnaire, you will be asked if you could possibly send us a hair sample. Your hair sample will enable us to assess stress levels retrospectively via hair cortisol analysis. Cortisol, the body’s ‘stress hormone’ can be measured in hair and especially in longer hair. You can also contact us and request your individual hair cortisol level data. Taking a hair sample like this is non-invasive, easy to do and will not provide a bald patch, as only a small amount of hair is needed. Instructions on how to obtain the hair sample and where to send it are available here.
Feel free to only do part 1, if you prefer!
- Participation in this study is entirely voluntary.
- You have the right to withdraw at any time without giving any reason.
- You have the right to ask for your data to be withdrawn as long as this is practical, and for personal information to be destroyed.
- Your responses will be confidential. No individuals will be identifiable in any report or publications arising from it.
- If you wish, you can receive information on the results of the research.