Threat of COVID-19 and Emotional State During Quarantine: Positive and Negative Affect as Mediators in a Cross-Sectional Study of the Spanish Population

PLoS One. 2020 Jun 25;15(6):e0235305. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0235305. eCollection 2020.


Aims: The objective of this study was therefore to analyze the effect of exceptionally stressful situations, such as the current health risk, on the cognitive and emotive state of the individual, that is, perceived threat and emotional state on affect and mood.

Method: This was a cross-sectional study with snowball sampling. The sample came to 1014 Spanish adults (67.2% women and 32.8% men). The Perception of Threat from COVID-19 questionnaire, the Affective Balance Scale and the Mood Evaluation Scale were used.

Results: The results showed that the perception of threat from COVID-19 was related positively to negative affect and emotional signs, that is, sadness-depression, anxiety and anger-hostility. There was a direct positive effect of perceived threat from COVID-19 on sadness-depression, anxiety and anger-hostility moods, while anxiety and anger-hostility had a direct positive effect on perception of threat from the virus. Thus, there was a circular relationship, in which perceived threat influenced the presence of negative mood, and negative mood, in turn, linked to emotions of irritation and agitation from a present situation, promoted the feeling of threat.

Conclusions: A negative affective balance increases both one's perception of threat from COVID-19 and negative mood. Thus, knowing the emotional and cognitive effects on the population would enable measures to be put into service to facilitate their effective coping.

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.