Amber Peterson

Dissertation Watch: The Lived Experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic Among Mandate-Resistant Adults

Amber N. Peterson, a 2024 graduate of the PsyD in Clinical Psychology on Antioch’s Seattle campus, recently published her dissertation titled, The Lived Experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic among Mandate-Resistant Adults in Washington State Authors.

For her dissertation, she conducted remote interviews with nine participants from Washington state, where Peterson looked to explore their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through her interviews, she built a framework that uncovered the challenges, silver linings, decision-making, and self-reported mental health of her subjects. The participants were between 23-31 years old, mostly male and over half identified as Black. She then analyzed the data using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.

For three years, Peterson reviewed literature and gathered data related to mandate resistance and associated behaviors. Her participants described their experiences during the pandemic and the impact it made on the way they lived their lives. She found in her research that a notable number of her participants defied COVID-19 mandates, the losses they faced, adjustments that were made, isolation, coping, distress, and moving forward, often finding themselves feeling alienated and distrusting, ultimately resulting in a decrease in mental health.

She found that as the pandemic waned, participants noted having a greater appreciation for in-person interactions, valued close relationships, and invested in traveling. Participants experienced great losses during the pandemic but emerged with a more defined sense of self. 

Peterson has experience working as a therapist with people in various treatment settings. She is passionate about social justice and understanding human nature and began working on her dissertation in 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only due to the pandemic, but also the magnified divide amongst the country, Peterson felt a desire to better understand those with opposing ideologies. Through her work, she hopes to increase empathy in clinical spaces and understanding of one another.