Client Polls

American Psychological Association

APA Survey Reveals 2016 Presidential Election Source of Significant Stress for More Than Half of Americans

Preview of data from upcoming Stress in Americaâ„¢ poll shows election is equally stressful for Republicans and Democrats

09:00 AM EDT Oct 13, 2016
  • Tools

WASHINGTON — 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 and over living in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association (APA).

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 — U.S. 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 four 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 U.S. 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).

APA offers the following tips to help people manage their stress related to the election:

 

More detail on the poll findings about stress pertaining to the presidential election is available at https://goo.gl/EQuKjG

For additional information on stress, lifestyle and behaviors, visit www.apa.org/helpcenter. Join the conversation about stress on Twitter by following @APAHelpCenter and #stressAPA.

 

Methodology

The Stress in America™ survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of APA between Aug. 5 and 31, 2016, among 3,511 adults ages 18+ who reside in the U.S. Surveys were conducted in English and Spanish. Data were weighted to reflect their proportions in the population. Weighting variables included age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. Hispanic respondents were weighted for acculturation, taking into account respondents’ household language as well as ability to read and speak in English and Spanish. Because the sample is based on those who were invited and agreed to participate in the Harris Poll online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. The full Stress in America report will be released in early 2017.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes more than 117,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.