Turn Off the Newsfeed or Take a Digital Break! Election Stress in America
Facing one of the most adversarial contests in recent history and daily coverage of the presidential election that dominates every form of mass media, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. The survey was conducted online among adults 18+ living in the US by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association.
For the past decade, the Stress in America survey has examined how stress affects the health and well-being of American adults. Prior to the release of this year's full survey results slated for early 2017, APA highlighted data that points to Americans' stress levels related to the upcoming presidential election.
"We're seeing that it doesn't matter whether you're registered as a Democrat or Republican — US adults say they are experiencing significant stress from the current election," said Lynn Bufka, PhD, APA's associate executive director for practice research and policy. Across party lines, those registered as Democrats (55 percent) and Republicans (59 percent) are statistically equally likely to say the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.
"Election stress becomes exacerbated by arguments, stories, images and video on social media that can heighten concern and frustration, particularly with thousands of comments that can range from factual to hostile or even inflammatory," said Bufka.
In fact, the survey revealed that social media appears to affect Americans' stress levels when it comes to the election and related topics. Nearly 4 in 10 adults (38 percent) say that political and cultural discussions on social media cause them stress. In addition, adults who use social media are more likely than adults who do not to say the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress (54 percent vs. 45 percent, respectively).
While men and women are equally likely (51 percent vs. 52 percent, respectively) to say the 2016 US presidential election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, election stress differs among generations of Americans. Millennials and 'matures' are the most likely to say the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress (56 percent vs. 59 percent, respectively) — significantly more than Generation Xers (45 percent) but not boomers (50 percent).
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