American Elephants


True, False, or Virtue Signalling? by The Elephant's Child

The results of an interesting study appeared in the Wall Street Journal last week. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, many Democrats professed significant increases in stress, depression and anxiety. Was that real or just showing off — virtue signalling?

Using a unique data set of searches by more than 1 million Bing users before and after the election, we examine the changes in mental-health-related searches. . . . We find that while Democrats may report greater increases in post-election mental distress, their mental health search behavior did not change after the election.

On the other hand, Spanish-speaking Latinos had clear, significant, and sustained increases in searches for “depression,” “anxiety,” “therapy,” and antidepressant medications. This suggests that for many Democrats, expressing mental distress after the election was a form of partisan cheerleading. . . . Democrats, as partisans, are reporting Trump-related mental distress as a form of reverse cheerleading, while Latinos are reporting genuine mental distress. . . . Where partisans are engaging in reverse cheerleading, they will be vocal about their mental distress about the presidency in a public forum but will not engage in behaviors associated with that distress in private. . . . Individuals who are not engaging in reverse cheerleading may or may not share their mental distress publicly but will engage in private behaviors associated with mental health issues.

Why am not surprised?

The study was published by  SAGE Open, on March 27. SAGE Open access is an independent publisher of academic research committed to the goal of global dissemination of research.


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