BOSTON (CBS) – How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the mood and outlook of Americans? A massive national poll has been measuring that, and some of their findings may surprise you.
These last three months have been a stressful, scary time. And according to a survey of more than 2,000 Americans by NORC/University of Chicago researchers, it’s taking a toll on us in a variety of ways.
Even though just a tiny percentage of us have contracted the virus, half of us report trouble sleeping. Nearly half say they’ve felt especially nervous or tense. And almost a third admit to losing their temper more than usual. So even people who are not directly damaged by what’s happened are still being very much affected by it.
It’s been a time of economic hardship, with record unemployment, but the poll shows that’s not what is stressing most people out.
A whopping 80% of those surveyed say they are satisfied with their family’s financial situation, an all-time high. But the very same poll found only 14% saying they are very happy overall, an all-time low and a sign of uncertainty and regret over what’s happening to others.
I guess the old cliche is true, money can’t buy happiness.
And the crisis has had a notable effect on the way Americans view the future.
Two years ago, 57% of us said our kids’ standard of living will be better than ours. Now, only 43% say they feel that way.
These past three months have been marked by volatile polling, with dramatic movement in surveys about compliance with social distancing guidelines, perceptions of police brutality, and support for President Trump. (By the way, the NORC/U. of C. poll was taken before the killing of George Floyd.) It may be that in these abnormal times of home confinement, unusually high consumption of news coverage is producing poll results that may change yet again when life returns to some semblance of normality.
Then again, it could be that for many Americans, this has been a period of unusual reflection and re-connection with inner values. We’ll see if the mood reflected in these results outlasts the crisis.