Ya think?

A national study conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago shows that the coronavirus pandemic is really taking a toll on Americans, affecting their overall happiness.

The COVID Response Tracking Study: Survey 1, which was examining the impact of the pandemic on American society, surveyed 2,279 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, between May 21 and May 29, 2020.

Here's how the surveyed individuals responded to a few of the questions:

In general, would you say your quality of life is… 

  • Excellent—13%
  • Very Good—43%
  • Good—31%
  • Fair—11%
  • Poor—2%

In general, how would you rate your mental health, including your mood and your ability to think ...

  • Excellent—17%
  • Very Good—36%
  • Good—29%
  • Fair—13%
  • Poor—3%

In the past seven days, how often have you been bothered by emotional problems such as feeling anxious, depressed, or irritable?

  • Never—19%
  • Rarely—30%
  • Sometimes—34%
  • Often—14%
  • Always—4%

How often in the past 4 weeks have you felt that you are isolated from others?

  • Never—26%
  • Rarely—24%
  • Sometimes—27%
  • Often—13%
  • Always—9%

(This one is particularly interesting compared to results two years ago. A total of 49% of responders feel isolated at least sometimes, compared to 23% in 2018)

During the past few weeks did you ever feel…

  • Particularly excited or interested in something? 68% yes
  • So restless that you couldn't sit long in a chair? 28% yes
  • Proud because someone complimented you on something you had done? 67% yes
  • Very lonely or remote from other people? 34% yes
  • Pleased about having accomplished something? 83% yes
  • Bored? 62% yes
  • On top of the world? 27% yes
  • Depressed or very unhappy? 38% yes
  • That things were going your way? 63% yes
  • Upset because someone criticized you? 25% yes

Taken all together, how would you say things are these days? Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?

  • Very happy—14%
  • Pretty happy—62%
  • Not too happy—23%

For some perspective, it's important to note that in 2018, the "not too happy" response was 10% less than it is now. In fact, the current percentage of "not too happy" responses, 23%, is the highest since 1972.

The study also looked at how Americans are holding up in this national crisis compared to crises of the past, like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. For instance, a smaller percentage of Americans have cried or felt dazed during the pandemic than the percentage who did at either of the other previous national tragedies. That makes sense, since both 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination were sudden tragedies that put the public in a state of shock. The impact of the pandemic, however, was slightly more gradual, leading people to let the stress build internally. In fact, 30% say they've lost their temper more often after the COVID-19 outbreak, compared to 20% who said that following 9/11, and 19% following the Kennedy assassination. They also report feeling more bored—obviously a result of all the stay-at-home orders and closures.

You can find the full study here, or read a summary of the findings here

NORC researchers plan to collect additional data in the coming months and see how Americans' responses to the coronavirus may evolve over time.

What do you think about the results of the study? How would you answer each of these questions above? Do you find you're unhappier than you were two years ago? Leave a comment to weigh in!