According to an August poll of adults in the US conducted by the American Psychological Association, the 2016 presidential campaign is causing significant stress among many Americans.
The poll pointed to the amount of attention and worry many Americans have about the upcoming election, in one of the most hotly-contested electoral cycles in modern memory.
“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 poll preview reads.
The candidates’ rivalry has been a well-publicized issue for months across all media. The campaign itself is said to trigger strong emotions for every group of voters. Regardless of political views, voters say the election is a significant source of stress.
“It has become emotional. It has become polarized,” Dr. Douglas Haldeman of the American Psychological Association.
“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,” Lynn Bufka, PhD, APA’s associate executive director for practice research and policy, said.
Those who use social media are more prone to stress, the survey revealed. Some 54 percent of social media users claimed that “the election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress,” compared with 45 percent of non-users.
There is no remarkable difference in election stress between genders, with 51 percent for men and 52 percent for women, unlike generation groups. Younger and older generations are more likely to be affected by electoral stress, with 56 percent of millennials, those aged 19-37, and 59 percent of those aged 71 or older, showing higher rates of concern.
Those between these age groups are less affected, marking 45 percent for Gen-Xers, those aged 38-51, and 50 percent for Baby Boomers, those aged 52-70.
The 2016 election campaign “will be an even uglier and nastier year in presidential politics,” a Fox outlet wrote earlier in the year. The psychologists pointed out that people pay more attention to negative information, implying that negative ads and rhetoric are a major contributor to the overall unease.
“With two frontrunners and fields with some pretty high unfavorable ratings, both sides will do everything they can to drive the opposition’s negatives even higher,” the broadcaster said.
“This election is one of the nastiest ones that I’ve seen,” said voter Randall Piona, according to the San Francisco CBS News affiliate.
“It’s like two high school kids fighting back and forth passing bad notes,” agreed voter Antrone Bradford.
Psychologists recommend calm. “Remember, whatever the outcome, this country will survive,” Dr. Haldeman stated.
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