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OU Team to Study Technology Use to Facilitate Social Distancing and Coping With the Disruption of COVID-19

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OU Team to Study Technology Use to Facilitate Social Distancing and Coping With the Disruption of COVID-19

Shane Connelly 

Georgia Kosmopoulou

Heshan Sun

A group of University of Oklahoma professors recently received a research award to investigate how technology helps people to cope with the stresses of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The $199,859 grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation.

This project is a collaborative effort between the OU College of Arts and Sciences and the Michael F. Price College of Business. Faculty members working on the project are Shane Connelly in the Department of Psychology, Georgia Kosmopoulou in the Department of Economics, and Heshan Sun in the Division of Management Information Systems, in Price College.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has required unprecedented changes in work and life routines, significantly raising anxiety and stress levels for many people,” said Connelly. “Our project will explore how adults in the U.S. are using technology to adapt as well as the differential impacts of technology on well-being.”

The project will contribute novel insights about the impact of work adaptation enabled by technology on economic vulnerability and resilience and on the ability of people to adjust to the new modes of work and life.

“From an economist’s point of view, understanding the role of technology in facilitating work life and work needs would allow us to assess the ability of organizations to adopt to the pandemic,” said Kosmopoulou. “This is intimately linked to economic resilience and determines the speed of economic recovery.”

Millions of Americans have to work, learn, exercise and maintain social interactions from home. Technology can now facilitate these activities like never before in history. How does technology facilitate work and daily activities affected by social distancing? How do computer and information technologies increase public awareness of measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19? What role does information technology play in reducing or increasing stress? Could mindfulness interventions and mindful use of technology enhance psychological well-being? These are some of the questions this project aims to answer.

“Information systems have profound impact on individual, organizations and the society,” said Sun. “This project takes an interdisciplinary perspective and has the potential to offer insights into the increasingly crucial roles information systems play in unusual times such as COVID-19.”