Investigating Distorted Thinking Patterns and Psychological Distress in Students taking Online Education during COVID-19 Outbreak

Investigating Distorted Thinking Patterns and Psychological Distress in Students taking Online Education during COVID-19 Outbreak

  • Muneeba Shakil , Department of Humanities, COMSATS University Islamabad, Lahore Campus
  • Bushra Khan , Department of Psychology, University of Karachi, Pakistan
  • Amena Zehra Ali , Department of Psychology, University of Karachi, Pakistan
  • Saba Javed , FoIT Department, University of Central Punjab
  • Anila Mukhtar , Department of Psychology, University of Karachi, Pakistan
  • Masha Asad Khan , Applied Psychology Department, Kinnaird College for women Lahore
  • Amina Muazzam , Department of Applied Psychology, Lahore College for Women University

ABSTRACT

Purpose: The objective of this study was to assess the predictive association between distorted thinking patterns and psychological distress (depression, stress, anxiety) in university e-learners during COVID-19 outbreak. Methodology: In this correlational study, 643 participants between age18 to 29 years (M= 21.27, SD+4.06) participated online through convenient sampling technique. They were sent an online google questionnaire, including the informed consent form, the depression, anxiety, stress scale (DASS-21), and cognitive distortions scale in Urdu, which assessed the distorted thinking patterns of adults.

Findings: Analysis through Pearson product moment correlation revealed that the distorted thinking patterns of predictive thinking, rigid thinking and stress-creating thinking pattern had a strong positive association with depression, stress, and anxiety. The distorted thinking pattern of self-criticism/self-blame also had a strong positive association with depression and stress, and a moderate positive association with anxiety. Multiple stepwise regression was performed to calculate the predictive association between distorted thinking patterns and psychological distress of university students seeking digital education during the COVID-19 outbreak. Analysis revealed that distorted thinking patterns of stress-creating thinking, self-criticism/self-blame, and predictive thinking are predictors of depression. However, stress-creating thinking was the strongest predictor of depression. Stress-creating thinking, predictive thinking, and rigid thinking were predictors of anxiety in university students during online education and stress-creating thinking is the strongest predictor of anxiety as well. Moreover, the distorted thinking patterns of stress creating thinking, self-criticism/self-blame, and rigid thinking strongly predicted stress in university students engaged in distant education during the COVID-19 outbreak. Implications to Research and Practice: The study’s findings emphasize the role of distorted thinking patterns in the stress experience of students during COVID and encourage teachers and universities to consider the findings while developing an online education system for the students.

Keywords: COVID-19, e-education, university students, cognitive distortions, psychological distress.