The COVID-19 pandemic as a disruptive event was initially considered an opportunity for a transformation towards more sustainable lifestyles. In two telephone surveys with more than 1000 participants each, this study explored in October 2020 and May 2021 how people in Germany experienced the COVID-19 related lockdown restrictions. Specifically, the study investigated how the respondents felt their lives had been impaired during the pandemic, which changes they had experienced as particularly bothersome and which ones they perceived to be beneficial. A second objective was to analyze how these perceptions related to either the respondents’ urge to return to “normal” or, in contrast, to their openness towards lifestyle changes. A third objective was to identify structural characteristics that would explain differences in perception and assessment of lifestyle changes. Overall, the study found that by 2021, the pandemic had impacted people more negatively than in 2020. Most respondents missed social contacts, traveling and cultural events. Among the positive changes, working from home and spending less money for useless things were particularly prominent. A third of the participants agreed that they would like to question their behavior before the pandemic and live more consciously. Apart from slight differences in gender, age and, most importantly, academic background, socio-economic characteristics hardly help explain why some people were more open to change than others. Therefore, a cluster analysis was conducted with the result that respondents with stronger pro-environmental attitudes were more open to change, no matter how much they felt affected by the pandemic. These findings indicate that when routines are disrupted, pro-environmental personal values and education contribute to the openness for alternative lifestyle choices.
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Beyerl, K., & Rivera, M. (2023). Who is open to change after the COVID-19 pandemic? Some insights from Germany. Journal of cleaner production, 416: 137754. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2023.137754.
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