Emotionally, the second year of the pandemic was an even tougher year for the world than the first, according to Gallup’s latest annual global update on the negative and positive experiences people have each day.
“As 2021 served up a steady diet of uncertainty, the world became a slightly sadder, more worried and more stressed place than it was the year before,” Gallup said.
The survey company used its annual Global Emotions Report, which measures the positive and negative experiences of people around the world. The report is divided into two indices: the Negative Experiences Index and the Positive Experiences Index.
People experiencing stress
After speaking to participants in 122 countries and areas in 2021, Gallup found that 4 in 10 adults said they experienced worry (42%) or stress (41%). It also found that more than 3 in 10 adults said they experience a lot of physical pain (31%). More than 1 in 4 experience sadness (28%).
- In 2021, four in 10 adults worldwide said they experienced a lot of worries (42%) or stress (41%) and just over three in 10 experienced a lot of physical pain (31%).
- More than one in four experienced sadness (28%) and slightly fewer experienced anger (23%).
Worry, stress, and sadness have been on an upward trend since 2006, slowly increasing each year, including in 2020, which marked the start of the pandemic. Worry increased by two points in 2021, and stress and sadness increased by one point each.
The Negative Experience Index stands at 33, meaning that 67 per cent of respondents are not negative about their lives. In fact, although the Positive Experience Index fell, it is still at 69 per cent.
In 2021, 42% of adults around the world said they experienced a lot of worries, which means that 58% did not. Twenty-eight per cent experienced sadness, which means 72 per cent did not. And Gallup’s poll averaged scores from 122 countries and areas, including Afghanistan (where its positive experience index is understandably 32).
Seven out of 10 people said they felt well-rested (69%), enjoyed themselves a lot (70%), or smiled and laughed a lot (72%). Nine out of 10 felt they were treated with respect (86%).
In addition to the increase in negative experiences, fewer people reported having positive experiences the day before. After several years of stability, the Positive Experience Index score in 2021 (69) fell for the first time since 2017.
The Positive Experience Index is based on people’s responses to five questions about positive experiences they had the day before the survey. Higher scores indicate that a larger portion of the population reported experiencing these emotions.
Last year, about seven in 10 people around the world said they felt well-rested (69%), enjoyed themselves a lot (70%), or smiled or laughed a lot (72%). Almost nine out of 10 felt treated with respect (86%). People were much less likely, as they usually are, to say they learned or did something interesting the day before the interview; in 2021, half of the world (50%) experienced this.
With more people dying from the coronavirus in 2021 than the previous year despite the rollout of vaccines, people felt less rested and enjoyed the day before. The percentage who said they felt well-rested dropped three points, and the percentage who experienced a lot of enjoyment dropped two.
However, the outlook was not entirely bleak. People started to smile and laugh again (the percentage who laughed or smiled a lot increased by two points), and the percentage who learned something interesting increased by one point.
Afghanistan Is Least Positive
According to a recent survey conducted by the consultancy Gallup Management, Afghans experienced the most concern in 2021. This institution’s survey indicates that 74% of the country’s residents experienced stress and sadness in the previous year.
“Worry, stress and sadness spiked to record levels in Afghanistan in 2021: 80% of Afghans were worried, 74% stressed and 61% felt sad for much of the previous day. Notably, no other population in Gallup’s 16-year trend has reported feeling as much concern,” the Gallup report says.
According to Gallup’s findings, Afghanistan is the least positive and leads the world in negative experiences.
“Afghanistan has ranked as the least positive country in the world every year since 2017, except for 2020, when Gallup was unable to survey the country due to the pandemic,” the report added.
“This survey indicates the depth of the social crisis in Afghanistan, as well as the depth and breadth of the problems facing the Afghan people,” said Sayed Sajjad Sajadi, a university professor.
“Half of the people in society, those who now stay at home, participated in social events, studied hard, attended school and served their communities, everyone now stays at home and that mainly harms women” Tamana Ghori, former advisor to the Women’s Commission of the House of Representatives.
“The closure of girls’ schools and the restriction of individual freedom and, more importantly, the powerlessness of citizens and widespread poverty among citizens and families in Afghanistan have made the Afghan people the saddest nation of the world,” said Parwiz Khalil, a university professor.
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