System1 Coronavirus Tracker: 22nd April

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, we’re running a 15-country tracker to capture people’s emotional and behavioural response to the crisis around the world.

For the very latest results, sign up for our webinar every Wednesday.

Here are the key findings from last week’s tracker:


America - fear subsides but anger grows

With media coverage increasingly focusing on the economic consequences of Covid-19, the overall mood in the US is as poor as it’s been since the start of the crisis. 4 weeks ago, 35% of Americans reported they were feeling Happy – that’s now fallen to a low of 18%.

When we look at specific emotional responses to Coronavirus, we see the same trend away from Fear we’ve identified in other markets. But in the US, there’s been an accompanying spike in Anger and Contempt – perhaps reflecting coverage of anti-lockdown protests on certain media channels. As Fear subsides, these more aggressive responses rise, signalling a new and potentially more difficult phase of the crisis.


Britain settles into lockdown

In the UK, meanwhile, the lockdown mood has been very consistent – Happiness at a miserable (but not unprecedented) 19%-20% overall. The specific response to Coronavirus sees Fear continue to trend down week-on-week – growing numbers of Britons now feel neutral about the pandemic.

We also see this grudging acceptance of lockdown reality in the responses to our behavioural questions – only very small minorities of people are saying they’ve been to pubs, restaurants, and other closed businesses in the last week. And even smaller numbers – 4% and 2% respectively – are saying they’ve socialised with friends or visited relatives.

This is in contrast to the US, where 12% say they’ve visited relatives and a relatively high 22% say they’ve socialised with friends, despite lockdown measures. It’s a statistic that helps explain why the American lockdown has become more controversial.


When will it all end? Expectations lower

As well as tracking lockdown emotions, we’ve been asking people how long they feel the pandemic will continue to affect their country.

Initially people were quite optimistic, with the end of June this year the most popular option in our surveys. But in both the US and the UK, feelings have shifted, and now September 2019 is the most selected estimate in both countries. (The more pessimistic options, of December 2020 and March 2021, are still very much minority opinions).

The shift to acceptance of a longer crisis in the UK has been small and gradual. In the US the reset of expectations has been far more dramatic. The proportion of Americans who believe the crisis will only last until June has plunged in the last 3 weeks from 56% to 34%. This may be down to inconsistent information from authorities. It may also have contributed to the rise in more angry emotional responses.


Financial gloom lessens... a little

Britain and America also subtly differ in terms of how bad people expect the economic impact to be. At first, in both markets the most popular prediction was a catastrophic 15% of higher fall in jobs and economic output. In the US, this remains the most common predicted outcome. But in the UK, we’ve seen expectations adjust to a less apocalyptic (though still very bad) 10-15% crash. We’ll continue to keep track of these expectations as more government policies to deal with the crisis are announced.

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