Post-pandemic mental health; navigation ability; conversations with strangers

Back in 2020 at height of pandemic lockdown the “ Social Study” a longitudinal study began looking at the psychological and social impact of the pandemic involving over 95,000 UK adults. What started as a 12 week study has now been running for 2 years. So now, as we’re emerging from restrictions of the pandemic, epidemiologist Daisy Fancourt of University College London discusses the post -pandemic’s impact on our mental health.

Do you find yourself keep getting lost? Many factors influence our ability to navigate but the environment we grow up in is often overlooked. Could living in the city compared to the countryside help or hinder our sense of direction? Claudia hears from Professor Hugo Spiers whose major new study across 40 countries reveals people who grew up in rural or suburban areas have better spatial navigation skills than those raised in cities, particularly cities with grid-pattern streets.

Good conversation can be one of life’s most enjoyable experiences, but we are surprisingly bad at judging how well conversations could go with a stranger. Mike Kardas of North Western university has attempted to examine the time course of enjoyment after getting 1000 participants to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Surprisingly we don’t run out of things to say. but how deep can a conversation go?

Claudia Hammond’s studio guest is Professor of health psychology Daryl O’Connor from the University of Leeds

Producer Adrian Washbourne