The pandemic experience survey II: A second corpus of subjective reports of life under social restrictions during COVID-19 in the UK, Japan, and Mexico


In August 2021, Froese et al. published survey data collected from 2,543 respondents on their subjective experiences living under imposed social distancing measures during COVID-19. The questionnaire was issued to respondents in the UK, Japan, and Mexico. By combining the authors’ expertise in phenomenological philosophy, phenomenological psychopathology, and enactive cognitive science, the questions were carefully phrased to prompt reports that would be useful to phenomenological investigation and theorizing. These questions reflected the various author’s research interests (e.g., technology, grief, time). Between April 7th and July 31st, 2021, a second questionnaire with the same question set was issued to respondents of the original who had agreed to do a follow-up. This was intended to capture subjective reports of life under social distancing measures a year after the initial survey. By this time–depending on their country of residence and health status–respondents had potentially lived with repeated and prolonged lockdowns and a variety of other restrictions on their social lives. When taken together, Survey I and Survey II provide a cross-cultural and longitudinal dataset that allows for analysis of longer-term impacts of imposed social distancing measures on people’s experiences. For researchers working in diverse disciplines, this dataset offers a rich resource that reflects people’s reactions to the imposition of different social restrictions in different countries and over different time periods. Another motivation for this work is to contribute to efforts to keep historical records of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our contribution includes detailed accounts of how people experienced various dimensions of the pandemic from their first-person perspective. To contextualize participants’ responses, we provide a brief overview of the pandemic situation in each country throughout the data collection period. Crucially, it is not our intention to draw any meaningful correlations between the figures and insights enumerated below and our survey data. We offer them to help elucidate some of the general conditions within which the subjective reports were made. We focus only on some key details derived from data made available by There was much heterogeneity in policy responses to managing the virus during this period, so general claims are not warranted. However, figures from the COVID-19 Stringency Index compiled by indicate that the severity of measures–a composite of nine response indicators including school and workplace closures, travel bans, and restrictions on public gatherings–fluctuated in all regions during the collection period, but with an overall decrease in the UK, as opposed to increases in Japan and Mexico. Beginning April 2021, out of a possible 100 (100 indicating the most severe measures), the UK was rated at 70, Japan at 42, and Mexico at 47; by the end of July 2021, the numbers were 44, 50, and 67, respectively. For any given individual, innumerable variables impact their particular experience. However, some core variables may be assumed to inform the general tone throughout the collection period: case numbers, death rates, and vaccine implementations. Of course, other variables will have been broadly significant too, such as access to testing, prevalence of facemasks and familiarity with wearing them. But in the interest of space, we limit our discussion to the core variables mentioned.

Frontiers in Public Health