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Study claims Democrats ‘over-reported’ mental stress following 2016 election

Remember studies like this one which showed some 25 percent of those surveyed reported “clinically significant” stress levels due to Donald Trump’s election?

That “clinically significant” part meant the equivalent of witnessing a school shooting … which is PTSD-level territory. The lead researcher of that study attributed such sky-high stress levels to Trump’s “divisive tone” on race and identity during the campaign.

Now, a new study from a Stanford PhD candidate and a trio of Microsoft analysts shows that many over-reported their psychological anguish over The Donald’s election, specifically that “most Democrats partook in ‘reverse’ cheerleading, or over reporting negative sentiments, in part to show support for their fellow Democrats.”

“Our research suggests that for many Democrats, expressing mental distress after the election was a form of partisan cheerleading,” the researchers wrote.

Via EurekAlert!:

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.

[Democrats’ behavior] 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.

Looking at six internet search keywords — “depression,” “anxiety,” “stress,” “suicide”/“suicidal,” “therapy,” as well as antidepressant/anti-anxiety medications — the researchers found that “while Republicans were less likely overall than Democrats to search for all six mental-health-related terms, there was no significance on the interaction between party and the post-election dummy variable. Even the least severe of these terms, stress, had no partisan effect.”

There was one group whose survey responses and online search behavior matched up: Spanish-speaking Latinos. This demographic “had clear, significant, and sustained increases in searches” for several of the aforementioned keywords.

Read the full study.

MORE: University offers post-election ‘de-stress’ space

MORE: Counseling, vigils, safe spaces for students distressed by Trump win

IMAGE: Gage Skidmore / Flickr.com

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