BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — A group of local professors are using their expertise to study the impacts of social distancing.  

For weeks, it's been said that social distancing is a tool to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. A group of BGSU professors are now looking at how that impacts human behavior and sociology.

This week, these professors, began research on what it means to be social distancing especially since that term is new to all of us.

"We just wanted to explore, how is this experience by people themselves. You know, how are they coping with this, how much are they complying with the regulations or recommendation," Dr. Peggy Giordano said. 

The study will last a year and they have a group of more than 1,200 adults that they've been studying for 20 years. 

Which makes it easy for the professors to take into consideration the group's past and other factors that could play a role.

"We know so much about these individuals, both their strengths and their weaknesses and how are they coping," Dr. Monica Longmore said.

Since Sociology itself examines human interaction, they said it's the perfect situation for them to research our limited contact.

"Unlike other public health solutions, this is a social solution. So usually it might involve different kinds of individual activities but this is more of a collective behavior," Dr. Wendy Manning said.

The majority of people are used to being in social groups and that's not happening right now.

"It's kind of the individuals mix of thinking about risks and rewards, but the reality is that people live within a social world," Giordano said.

The professors see this as an interesting shift for how people will interact in the future.

"The sociological perspective is an important one for understanding social problems, such as complying with the mandates of the pandemic," Longmore said.

To look at how human behavior is shaped, sociologists study interactions within groups. 

Doctors have told us staying six feet apart will help us in the long run, although sociologists agree, they think it will have a bigger impact on human behaviors.

"That social angle, I think has been under-played. I think if we can do anything, we might say that there maybe shouldn't be a one size fits all public health approach," Giordano said.

They say it's going to be interesting to see how much or little things change over time with people especially for those more likely to be in groups.

"It's even going to be more challenging because each little thing that you do, where you're not quite sure, is it safe or not, right?" Giordano said.

These impacts are not set in stone though, they say that's because there are many questions surrounding the pandemic and a lot that we still don't know.

You can find more about their research here.

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