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It’s hard to escape news about politics in 2020, and while engaging with it can make us feel bad, it can also lead to action. That’s according to a study that looks at how negative emotions brought on by the ‘chronic stressor’ of politics can be the impetus people need to want to change the system. We explore the insights behind this and how brands can offer support in stressful times.

According to a study by academics at the University of Toronto and Brock University, “daily political events consistently evoked negative emotions, which corresponded to worse psychological and physical well-being, but also increased motivation to take political action.” In the report, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, researchers find that regulating politics-induced emotions through tools like distraction can lead to a greater sense of well-being, but it also results in less motivation to take action. The authors write that this study highlights how politics is a chronic stressor in people’s lives, illuminating the widespread influence politicians have beyond their democratically given powers. 

There’s an opportunity to support people through their activism with tools to boost their well-being
Anthony Tran (2018) ©

From the divisive rhetoric of the upcoming 2020 election to Black Lives Matters protests and the on-going debate over how to handle COVID-19, political tensions in the US are high. And people are also engaging in political action more than ever before: the BLM movement, reignited in June 2020, is reportedly the largest movement in US history, with between 15 million and 26 million people having participated in demonstrations since the murder of George Floyd. As people turn to brands to channel their influence into positive social change, there’s an opportunity to support people through their activism with tools to sustain and boost their well-being.

Louis Tozer is a Behavioural Analyst of Social Sciences at Canvas8. He holds a M.A. in History from UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and is a former Research Assistant at The Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade. He can often be found in the pub with friends or at Roots Hall, the home of Southend United.


08 Oct 20
2 min read

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