More people across the globe reported experiencing negative feelings and emotions like stress during 2020 than in any other year "in recent history," according to Gallup’s Negative Experience Index.
"2020 officially became the most stressful year in recent history," Gallup found, based on a survey of adults in 115 different countries asking them about how they felt "during a lot of the previous day."
- 40% experienced worry during a lot of the day.
- 40% experienced stress.
- 29% experienced physical pain.
- 27% experienced sadness.
- 24% experienced anger.
Gallup notes that experiences of these emotions were "already at or near record highs in 2019," but went on to set new records the following year. The survey recorded a five-point jump in the percentage of people who experienced stress, from 35% in 2019 to 40% in 2020, making it the most stressful year since Gallup began the Negative Experience Index in 2006.
"The five-point jump from 35% in 2019 to 40% in 2020 represents nearly 190 million more people globally who experienced stress during a lot of the previous day," Gallup wrote.
The percentage of people who reported stress varied country by country. Peru reported the highest levels with 66%, while Kyrgyzstan reported the lowest with 13%. When it comes to general negative emotions, Iraq reported the highest Negative Experience Index score with 53, while Taiwan reported the lowest with 13.
Gallup also reported that its Positive Experience Index did not change despite the pandemic, remaining at a global score of 71, where it was in 2019 and in 2018.
"The pandemic is not entirely to blame for the world's emotional state. While 2020 may have been a record-setting year for negative emotions, the world has been on a negative trajectory for almost a decade," Gallup concludes.
"That's not to say things can't or won't improve in the future. In the U.S. in 2021, people's ratings of their lives rebounded — hitting new all-time highs — and their emotions returned to pre-pandemic levels. But all the findings reinforce why it is important for leaders to ask, benchmark and understand how their people are living their lives."
Gallup polled adults age 15 and older in 115 different countries with nationally representative samples based on probability, with a sample size of 1,000 people or more for each country or area surveyed, and a margin of error between +/-1.1 and +/-5.5 percentage points.
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