Age, education, and political involvement differences in daily election-related stress
Early, A. S., Smith, E. L., & Neupert, S. D. (2022, May 28). CURRENT PSYCHOLOGY.
Stress in daily life is rather common, but elections can present unique challenges. Evaluating the impact of individual characteristics, behaviors, and political beliefs on stress processes is imperative to understanding how elections influence psychological well-being. Exploring how these individual and behavioral characteristics interacted to predict exposure to election-related stressors, we hypothesized that age, education, and past socio-political involvement would be associated with exposure to election-related stressors. In the 2018 U.S. Midterm Election Stress Coping and Prevention Every Day (ESCAPED) study, 140 participants in the United States and territories aged 19-86 were recruited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk for a 30-day daily diary study. Collectively, participants completed a total of 1196 reports between October 15, 2018 and November 13, 2018. The midterm election was November 6, 2018. Each day, participants reported on past political participation, election stress anticipation, and exposure to election-related stressors. Confirming our hypothesis, on days when people were more politically active and on days when stress anticipation increased, exposure to election-related stressors increased. Age differences in exposure depended on political activity in the last 24 h, with older adults exhibiting a steeper increase in exposure following political activity, especially if they were highly educated. However, higher education was protective against election-related stressors among younger adults even with increases in political activity. Individuals' experiences, characteristics, and daily decisions influence the likelihood of exposure to election-related stressors. Additionally, for younger adults, education may function as a protective factor when they engage in political activities.