Thriving or Struggling? Social Energy Expenditure and Patterns of Interaction During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Communication Studies


Experts warned of increased stress for people confined at home during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, increased time spent communicating with loved ones may have had benefits, depending on the type of interactions and social energy they required. Using communicate bond belong (CBB) theory, we examined relationships between social energy expenditure and four outcomes: interaction satisfaction, loneliness, and feelings of being trapped with one’s romantic partner and/or children. We also examined how two forms of communication interaction (frequency of social support provision and conflict) within the home were associated with outcomes and how interaction type may moderate relationships between social energy expenditure and outcomes. Results supported all but one of the main effects hypotheses. Relationships between social energy expenditure and each outcome were moderated by frequency of support provision and/or conflict, such that negative outcomes were mitigated by frequent social support provision and exacerbated by frequent conflict. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for CBB theory and for those confined to their homes with relational partners.


Communicate bond belong theory; Conflict; COVID-19; Social isolation; Social support


Communication | Mass Communication

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