25% of students say they were traumatized by the 2016 election, study says

October 24, 2018 in News by RBN Staff


Source: Daily Mail


  • Researchers surveyed Arizona State University students around the time of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017
  • Some had stress scores on par with that of seven-month follow-ups to school shooting witnesses 
  • Twenty-five percent of the 769 students reported ‘clinically significant’ levels of stress
  • Women, black, Hispanic and non-Christian students reported higher stress levels 
  • The findings are published today as the mid-term elections approach 

A quarter of students found the 2016 so traumatic they now report symptoms of PTSD, according to a new study.

Researchers surveyed Arizona State University students around the time of President Donald Trump‘s inauguration in 2017, and some had stress scores on par with that of school shooting witnesses’ seven-month follow-ups.

Twenty-five percent of the 769 students, who were an even mix of genders and races and socioeconomic backgrounds, reported ‘clinically significant’ levels of stress.

The most severe cases were seen among women, black, and non-white Hispanic students, who were 45 percent more likely to feel distressed by the 2016 run between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Lead researcher Melissa Hagan, an assistant professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, believes the ‘divisive tone’ about race, identity, and what makes a valuable American ‘really heightened stress for a lot of people’.

Researchers gave Arizona State university students a psychological assessment around the time of President Trump’s inauguration, a couple of months after he won the election over Hillary Clinton. The researchers found some had stress scores on par with that of school shooting witnesses’ seven-month follow-ups

In January and February 2017, psychology students at Arizona State were given questions based on the Impact of Event Scale, which is used to assess distress in trauma victims.

Most (56.4 percent) of the students, who live in a state that voted for Trump, said they were not happy with the result – 20 percent somewhat dissatisfied, and 38 percent completely dissatisfied.

Meanwhile, 18.5 percent of the students said they were completely satisfied with the result, and 25 percent were somewhat satisfied.

In terms of how the election impacted their lives, 65 percent said there was no impact. Ten percent said they saw a positive impact.

But a quarter were so crestfallen their symptoms would be deemed a medical condition, severe enough to interfere with their work, social activities, and personal relationships.

White people were less affected than black and non-white Hispanic students.  Women were 45 percent more likely to be distressed than their male peers. Non-Christians were far more distressed than Christians, the study found.

The election was dramatic, controversial, riddled with an FBI investigation, Russian meddling, the ‘grab em by the p***y’ tape, and an unexpected result.

Polls had Clinton winning with a probability of somewhere between 70 and 99 percent, according to Pew Research. On the night, outsider Trump took key states Wisconsin and Pennsylvania as the map went red.

The election also came amid soaring rates of stress and anxiety among young people, the generation who have grown up with social media.

Most of the students in the study said they consumed their election coverage via social media, which psychologists and pediatricians warn is usually the driving factor for millennial anxiety as it fuels extremist, angry pockets among like-minded groups.

Dr Hagan, whose study is published today in the Journal of American College Health, says that the social media factor cannot be ignored.

She also believes the shock factor – Donald Trump’s win despite predictions of a Clinton sweep – took many Democrat voters by surprise.

She hopes the paper will shed light on the fact that, for some people, the election did ‘constitute a traumatic experience’ that may be interfering with their work and lives.

Dr Hagan conducted the study with Michael Sladek, PhD, of UCSF’s psychiatry department, and University of Arizona psychologists Linda Luecken, PhD, and Leah Doane, PhD.