Sociability, Social Isolation, and Social Interaction During the First Months of COVID-19 Pandemic: a Qualitative Analysis of Brazilian, Finnish, and American Adults Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract The social distancing imposed by the pandemic transformed how people interact with others, and little is known about how it has impacted new ways of sociability and if culture influences this process. This is a qualitative study exploring changes in the configurations of social interactions and the resources for sociability that adults in Brazil, the USA, and Finland have developed during the initial stage of quarantine. A total of 95 participants (ages between 20 and 60) experiencing social isolation either living alone or with their partners (without children) completed online questionnaires about their interactive experiences. The questionnaire was composed of multiple choices, addressing the frequency, types, and length of social interactions before and during the pandemic, and open questions focusing on the participants experiences on online interactions during the pandemic. Frequencies were analyzed through a paired-sample t-test, and open-ended responses were thematically analyzed. Results revealed, first, that social isolation did not represent a significant change in the composition of the participants social network, but family bonds became the main connection during the period, and other sources of social interaction were kept due to the possibility of interaction through virtual means. Although the frequency of social interactions reduced, their significance increased. Second, virtual environments reframed social interactions, influencing individuals bodily perceptions such as differences in attentional demands, communication processes, and awareness of their own image, and the interaction itself. Third, cultural values seemed to influence the way participants signified their interactive experiences. This study suggests that although virtual environments changed the ways interactions happen, virtual encounters were essential for maintaining participants social networks.

published proceedings

  • Trends in Psychology

author list (cited authors)

  • Ferreira, J. M., Meron-Vargas, E. A., & Midgette, A. J.

citation count

  • 3

publication date

  • December 2023