Poll: Amer­i­cans re­port jump in level of stress

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Insight - BY NIRAJ CHOKSHI New York Times

Amer­i­cans are among the most stressed peo­ple in the world, ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey. And that is just the start of it.

Last year, Amer­i­cans re­ported feel­ing stress, anger and worry at the high­est lev­els in a decade, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, part of an an­nual Gallup poll of more than 150,000 peo­ple around the world, re­leased Thurs­day.

“What re­ally stood out for the U.S. is the in­crease in the neg­a­tive experience­s,” said Julie Ray, Gallup’s manag­ing edi­tor for world news. “This was kind of a sur­prise to us when we saw the num­bers head in this di­rec­tion.”

For the an­nual poll, started in 2005, Gallup asks in­di­vid­u­als about whether they have ex­pe­ri­enced a hand­ful of pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive feel­ings the day be­fore be­ing in­ter­viewed. The data on Amer­i­cans is based on re­sponses from more than 1,000 adults.

In the United States, about 55% of adults said they had ex­pe­ri­enced stress dur­ing “a lot of the day” prior, com­pared with just 35% glob­ally. Statistica­lly, that put the coun­try on par with Greece, which had led the rank­ings on stress since 2012.

About 45% of the Amer­i­cans sur­veyed said they had felt “a lot” of worry the day be­fore, com­pared with a global av­er­age of 39%. Mean­while, the share of Amer­i­cans who re­ported feel­ing “a lot” of anger the day be­fore be­ing in­ter­viewed was the same as the global av­er­age: 22%.

When Gallup in­ves­ti­gated the re­sponses more closely, it found that be­ing un­der 50, earn­ing a low in­come and hav­ing a dim view of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s job per­for­mance were cor­re­lated with neg­a­tive experience­s among adults in the United States.

But there still is not enough data to say for sure whether any of those fac­tors were be­hind the feel­ings of stress, worry and anger.

“We are see­ing pat­terns that would point to a po­lit­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion, or a po­lar­iza­tion ex­pla­na­tion, with the U.S. data, but can we say that defini­tively? No,” Ray said.

The find­ings were not all bleak for the United States. De­spite hav­ing wide­spread neg­a­tive experience­s, Amer­i­cans also gen­er­ally re­ported more pos­i­tive experience­s, on av­er­age, than the rest of the world did.

Glob­ally, just 49% of those in­ter­viewed said they had learned or had done some­thing in­ter­est­ing the day be­fore. In the United States, how­ever, 64% of adults said the same.

The two sets of ques­tions, about neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive experience­s, are un­con­nected, ac­cord­ing to Ray. An in­di­vid­ual can, for ex­am­ple, feel both stressed and well-rested for much of a given day.

“If you think about how you felt yes­ter­day, you didn’t just feel one way the en­tire day,” she said.

Neg­a­tive experience­s were assessed by ask­ing about phys­i­cal pain, worry, sad­ness, stress and anger. Pos­i­tive experience­s were mea­sured by ask­ing whether in­di­vid­u­als felt well-rested, felt treated with re­spect, smiled or laughed, learned or did some­thing in­ter­est­ing and felt en­joy­ment.

The mar­gin of er­ror in the poll ranged from 2.1 to 5.3 per­cent­age points, de­pend­ing on the coun­try. The re­sults for the United States, where in­ter­views were con­ducted from Aug. 13 to Sept. 30, had a mar­gin of er­ror of 4 per­cent­age points.

World­wide, neg­a­tive experience­s were just as wide­spread last year as in 2017, which was the dark­est year for hu­man­ity in more than a decade, ac­cord­ing to Gallup. While stress de­clined glob­ally, anger in­creased. Worry and sad­ness reached new heights, and feel­ings of phys­i­cal pain were un­changed.


In the United States, about 55% of adults said they had ex­pe­ri­enced stress dur­ing “a lot of the day” prior, com­pared with 35% glob­ally, ac­cord­ing to a Gallup poll.

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