Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Experimental Psychology




Amy Joh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Fanli Jia, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dr. Paige Fisher


COVID-19 pandemic, Family dynamics, Protective factors, Parent stress, Siblings


The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life for everyone in different and unique ways. We recruited parents and children from the same families to investigate the changes families experienced since the start of the pandemic. Of interest were variables related to family dynamics as well as protective factors that may have influenced their pandemic experience. Twenty-three parents completed altered versions of the Perceived Coronavirus Threat Questionnaire short (CTQ-short), Perceived Coronavirus Impacts Questionnaire short (CIQ-short), and Oslo Social Support Scale (OSSS-3) as measures of perceptions of direct and indirect covid-related stress. Parents also completed a modified Parental Stress Scale (PSS) as a measure of reactions to stress. Lastly, parents completed a modified Family Routines Inventory (FRI) as a measure of consistency in family routines. For all measures, parents were asked to report how they feel now as compared to the start of the pandemic. Children of six parents also participated in virtual video interviews about play and relationship quality with siblings. Children responded to an altered Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS) as a measure of the quality of their sibling relationship. Children also answered questions about the kind of play they engage in to measure the frequency of free and guided play. Lastly, children responded to 3 open-ended questions to supplement their relationship and play measures. Overall, parents experienced increased reactions to stress today compared to the start of the pandemic, even though their perceptions of stress and family routines are unchanged. However, education was a protective factor in determining perceptions of direct stress and consistency of routines. Parents with more than a bachelor’s degree (professional degrees) had lower perceptions of direct stress, and parents with a bachelor’s degree had more stable daily routines today. Additionally, children reported a robust score on the sibling RAS indicating positive relationship quality. The positive responses of the children on the RAS, supplemented by the open-response items suggest that the presence of a sibling is a protective factor. Altogether, family life today does not seem to be so different from life at the start of the pandemic, though several protective factors have softened the impact of the pandemic for some families.