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Changes in Stress Levels during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Involvement in Criminal Behavior

NCJ Number
Deviant Behavior Dated: 2023
Megan L. Swinehart; Peggy C. Giordano; Monica A. Longmore; Wendy D. Manning
Date Published

This paper examines stress levels and changes in stress during the Covid-19 pandemic by using longitudinal data collected in 2019 and 2020, the paper reviews the authors’ research methodology and outcomes, and suggests that future research should further examine how and why stress levels differed based on criminal behavior involvement along with other life circumstances.


Covid-19 pandemic related disruptions to work and family life have led to increases in stress levels; however, prior studies have not examined how stress levels and changes in stress during the pandemic may have varied based on involvement in criminal behavior. In this study, the authors examined how criminal behavior influenced stress levels prior to and during the pandemic, and changes in overall stress levels. Using longitudinal data collected in 2019 and 2020 as part of the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (TARS), the current study examines self-reported criminal behavior prior to the pandemic and variation in stress levels during the pandemic. Results show that individuals who engaged in more criminal behavior pre-pandemic reported higher levels of overall stress, but their stress levels decreased during the pandemic. Although individuals who engaged in less criminal behavior had lower levels of overall stress prior to the pandemic, they experienced an increase in stress during the pandemic. Future research should continue to examine how and why stress levels differ based on involvement in criminal behavior and a range of other life circumstances. Publisher Abstract Provided