Spoiler alert: 2020 has been rough on the American psyche. Folks in the US are more unhappy today than they've been in nearly 50 years, according to the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Highlights, per the AP:
- Just 14% of American adults say they're very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they'd often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% say that.
- The public is less optimistic today about the standard of living improving for the next generation than it has been in the past 25 years. Only 42% of Americans believe that when their children reach their age, their standard of living will be better. A solid 57% said that in 2018. Since the question was asked in 1994, the previous low was 45% in 1994.
- Compared with surveys conducted after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans are less likely to report some types of emotional and psychological stress reactions following the COVID-19 outbreak. Fewer report smoking more than usual, crying, or feeling dazed now than after those two previous tragedies, though more report having lost their temper or wanting to get drunk.
- About twice as many Americans report being lonely today as in 2018. Compared with 2018, Americans also are about twice as likely to say they sometimes or often have felt a lack of companionship (45% vs. 27%) and felt left out (37% vs. 18%) in the past four weeks.
- The survey of 2,279 adults, conducted May 21-29, draws on nearly a half-century of research from the General Social Survey, which has collected data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972. No less than 29% of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey.
(Read more happiness