News Release

New study reveals that some over reported stress after 2016 election to support political party

Peer-Reviewed Publication


In a new study, researchers found that many Democrats may have over reported mental stress after the 2016 election. By comparing personal online searches made by Democrats, Republicans and Spanish-Speaking Latinos with public surveys, their study claims those not directly targeted by Trump's campaign claimed more stress than experienced.

"Our research suggests that for many Democrats, expressing mental distress after the election was a form of partisan cheerleading," researchers Masha Krupenkin, David Rothschild, Shawndra Hill and Elad Yom-Tov wrote.

Reviewing more than 1 million online searches from before and after the election and comparing them with public surveys, the researchers explored the relationship between survey results (a public expression of feelings) and search results (a private exploration). They found a complicated relationship between what people claimed publicly to care about and how they engaged with these same issues privately.

Specifically, they found that most Democrats partook in "reverse" cheerleading, or over reporting negative sentiments, in part to show support for their fellow Democrats. This is in comparison to Republicans, who not only did not report a significant increase in stress after the 2016 election, but also did not report an increase in stress after Obama's election in 2008.

"Under a shroud of anonymity, stripped of the need to appear respectable to survey researchers or to their peers, people search for the information they genuinely want and need," the researchers wrote.


The article, "President Trump Stress Disorder: Partisanship, Ethnicity, and Expressive Reporting of Mental Distress After the 2016 Election" was recently published as part of a special collection on Social Media and Politics in SAGE Open which grew out of a series of conferences held by Social Media and Political Participation (SMaPP)-Global. You can read the full article on the collection's website.

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