COVID-19 Seen by Students: An Exploratory Study



Objective. The aim of this article is to analyse the social representations of coronavirus in groups of young people.
Background. The COVID-19 pandemic is the first experience for most of the world's population: a new disease has emerged that is spreading rapidly across countries and continents, and humanity has nothing to counter the threat. The symbolic defences that are developed in response to this threat are the focus of the work.
Study design. The study was conducted in two time periods corresponding to the two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Russia (the first wave from June 18, 2020 to July 10, 2020 and the fourth wave from October 14, 2021 to December 7, 2021).
Participants. A total of students aged 17 to 27 years (N = 242 subjects, 12,5% men).
Measurements. The main method of the study was a questionnaire (the main technique – the method of free association). The questionnaire was presented in an online format.
Results. A comparison of the structure and content of COVID-19 in young people (the first and fourth waves of the pandemic) suggests the emergence of the representation of covid-19: a hierarchical organisation of elements in the case of the fourth wave.
Conclusions. In the case of a COVID-19 pandemic, representatives of the youth milieu adopted a position that rationalises the threat and the fear associated with it.

General Information

Keywords: social representations; hypothetical structure of social representations; emergence of social representation; COVID-19; health psychology

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The study was carried out by Irina A. Novikova as part of the Program of Strategic Academic Leadership, “Priority-2030,” of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia named after Patrice Lumumba (RUDN University), the publication was prepared with the support of scientific project No. 051324-0-000 at the Psychology and Pedagogy Department, the Faculty of Philology, RUDN University.

Received: 18.04.2023


For citation: Bovina I.B., Sachkova M.Y., Dvoryanchikov N.V., Novikova I.A., Berezina E.B., Novikov A.L. COVID-19 Seen by Students: An Exploratory Study. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2023. Vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 85–102. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2023140206. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Inna B. Bovina, Doctor of Psychology, Research Director, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical and Legal Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Marianna Y. Sachkova, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Professor, Department of General Psychology, Institute of Social Sciences, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Professor, Department of Theoretical Foundations of Social Psychology, Moscow State Psychological and Pedagogical University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Nikolay V. Dvoryanchikov, PhD in Psychology, Docent, Dean, Faculty of Legal and Forensic Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Irina A. Novikova, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychology and Pedagogy, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia named after Patrice Lumumba, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Elizaveta B. Berezina, PhD in Psychology, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Sunway University, Sunway, Malaysia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Alexey L. Novikov, Doctor of Philology, Associate Professor, Associate Professor at General and Russian Linguistics Department, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia named after Patrice Lumumba, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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