Study: It’s not just you, 2017 was rough for hu­man­ity

The East African - - OUT­LOOK - By NIRAJ CHOKSHI New York Times News Ser­vice

VIOLENCE, BIT­TER par­ti­san­ship, an un­cer­tain fu­ture. These are dark times. In fact, hu­man­ity just had its gloomi­est year in more than a decade, ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey of the emotional lives of more than 154,000 peo­ple world­wide.

More peo­ple re­ported neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences — defined as worry, stress, phys­i­cal pain, anger or sad­ness — than at any point since 2005, when Gallup, the an­a­lyt­ics and con­sult­ing com­pany, in­tro­duced the sur­vey.

“This is the first time that we’ve seen a re­ally sig­nif­i­cant uptick in neg­a­tive emotions,” said Julie Ray, the chief writer and ed­i­tor of the re­port and sur­vey, known as the Gallup World Poll.

The 2017 re­sults, re­leased Wed­nes­day, are based on in­ter­views with adults in more than 145 coun­tries. The in­crease in neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences was driven largely by ris­ing worry and stress, re­ports of each of which rose by two per­cent­age points from 2016 to 2017.

“When you’re talk­ing about 154,000 in­ter­views for the en­tire world, that’s ac­tu­ally a lot,” Ms Ray said. “Those two points, that change, is a lot.”

Re­ports of phys­i­cal pain and sad­ness each rose by 1 per­cent­age point, also con­tribut­ing to the global rise in neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences, while re­ports of anger were un­changed. In all, well over a third of re­spon­dents told Gallup in 2017 that they had ex­pe­ri­enced a lot of worry or stress the day be­fore tak­ing the sur­vey. Just un­der a third re­ported ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a lot of phys­i­cal pain, while about a fifth said they had felt a lot of sad­ness or anger.

Neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences have risen fast across the greater sub-sa­ha­ran re­gion, with its in­dex at its high­est lev­els in a decade in 24 of 35 coun­tries sur­veyed there. While no sin­gle trend can ex­plain that shift, con­flict and in­sta­bil­ity have cre­ated a grow­ing health care cri­sis across the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to Gallup.

Such prob­lems with health or with the abil­ity to af­ford food are as­so­ci­ated with higher neg­a­tive scores, the or­gan­i­sa­tion found. While neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences reached a new high in 2017, pos­i­tive ones fell only slightly, to lev­els last seen in 2011 and 2012. At least 70 per cent of those sur­veyed re­ported feel­ing a lot of joy, feel­ing well rested, feel­ing treated with re­spect, and smil­ing or laugh­ing a lot the day be­fore be­ing in­ter­viewed.

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