The past few years in American politics have been tumultuous, to say the least. Personal political beliefs aside, there is no denying that the U.S. has grown especially divided in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory. Between social media bots, partisan news coverage, and the president’s frequent Twitter posts, it has never been harder for the average American to avoid being bombarded with some type of political message on an almost hourly basis.
It isn’t a stretch to assume that at some point all of that polarization would have a negative effect on the collective well being of the nation, and a new study conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has effectively confirmed this assumption. According to researchers, the current U.S. political climate is literally making Americans physically sick, damaging friendships, and driving many people “crazy.”
In March of 2017 researchers surveyed 800 Americans, selected from a pool of 1.8 million in order to create representative samples of the U.S. population. Almost 40% admitted that politics is stressing them out, and one in five even said they are losing sleep over U.S. politics.
“It became apparent, especially during the 2016 electoral season, that this was a polarized nation, and it was getting even more politically polarized,” comments study leader and political scientist Kevin Smith in a release. “The cost of that polarization to individuals had not fully been accounted for by social scientists or, indeed, health researchers.”
Smith even described the study’s findings as akin to a public health crisis.
This study is among the first to comprehensively examine the physical and emotional cost of participating in the current U.S. political system and subsequent discourse. Of course, there have been other studies conducted on U.S. politics, but those focused primarily on economic or monetary costs.
“Quite a few of the numbers jumped out at me,” Smith elaborates. “Twenty percent have damaged friendships because of political disagreements. One in five report fatigue. And it’s a small (proportion), but 4% of the people in our sample said they’ve had suicidal thoughts because of politics. That translates into 10 million adults.”
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Source: Study Finds