Still Elevated, Negativity Lessens in Some Working Americans While Resilience Improves Slightly

Our ability to control our behavior enables us to achieve goals, resist temptation, avoid acting on impulse, and maintain our mental and physical health. When under high levels of stress, people tend to become more negative and less resilient. As a result, they may lose the ability to self-regulate their behavior, which leads to a myriad of problems, including obesity, addiction, poor financial decisions, sexual infidelity, and more. Watch to Learn More


Resilience allows us to bounce back when something bad happens. It’s the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or other significant sources of stress. Resilience can drop quickly after an emotionally distressing event or a particularly stressful period in life.

Resilience Is Creeping Upward

U.S. workers’ resilience had been declining during the pandemic. But after improving one percentage point in May, it inched up another 2% in June — suggesting workers are adapting to unending pressure.

Women Show Most Recovery

Women’s resilience decreased more than men’s did between February and May. However, from May to June, this turned around with a 3% increase in resilience in women.

Middle-Aged Workers Bounce Back

Middle-aged workers bounced back in June with a 4% increase in resilience. The 20-39 and 60+ age groups resilience remains normalized at pre-COVID levels.

Conscious Negativity Bias

Conscious negativity bias – the tendency to see the “cup half empty” rather than the “cup half full” – can rise in times of uncertainty and discouragement. It’s a disproportionate focus on problems rather than opportunity. And, it’s highly contagious. That’s why one very negative person can disrupt an entire group or team.

Working Americans 11% More Negative in Wake of COVID-19

Working Americans’ outlook trends negative. Overall, negativity has increased 11% since February. However, considering negativity was measured at having increased 23% by May, negativity being up only 11% shows improvement over the past month. The recovery was largely due to women showing less negativity in June.

After Spike, Women’s Negativity Drops

Both women (11%) and men (9%) are more negative compared to February. Until recently, working women’s negativity was rising more dramatically than working men’s. However, women’s negativity dropped by 10% in June to be more in line with men.

Younger Workers Now More Negative

Workers 60 and older are no more negative than they were in February. However, negativity has increased in workers aged 40-59 and 20-39 by 11% and 12% respectively.

Social Connectivity

Social connectivity reflects the extent to which people proactively seek and gain enjoyment from social interaction.

Connecting with Others Is More Important Now

Social connectivity scores have increased 5% since February 2020, with a peak 6% increase in March and through April.

Working Men Exhibit a Slightly Higher Demand for Social Connectivity than Working Women

From February through June, men’s social connectivity need has increased by 5%, while women’s remained normalized at pre-COVID levels.

All Age Groups Share Increased Need for Social Connectivity

The increased demand for social connectivity applies to U.S. workers in all age groups.

Women Cause a Bump in Resilience and Dip in Heightened Negativity

Recently, some interesting trends have emerged related to resilience. The Mental Health Index previously reported that resilience was down four percent. While it makes sense that resilience could decline further as the pandemic drags on, resilience is currently making an upward turn.

Among working women, resilience improved three percent from May to June, bumping up resilience by two percent overall. Resilience improved four percent among middle-aged workers in June. These groups may be adjusting better now to COVID-19 than they had been previously.

Besides showing more resilience, conscious negativity bias decreased among working women by 10 percent from May to June. Negativity had previously been rising more in women than in men, but that gap is closing. Still, both groups sit above the baseline for conscious negativity bias — meaning they lean more negative than positive.

To offset increased negativity, stress, and anxiety, many Americans are showing greater appreciation for social connections and the people in our lives. Social connectivity scores have increased by five percent overall.

If states and businesses are able to reopen successfully and enable more social interaction, mental health should improve. However, if one step forward turns into two steps back, and Americans are further isolated from family, friends, co-workers, and others in their lives, it may be detrimental to mental health. This is something to watch closely.

PODCAST – COVID-19 Captivity: Social Connectivity During Pandemic

Listen to Total Brain Founder Dr. Evian Gordon’s podcast “Social Connectivity in the COVID-19 Era,” with Dr. Shelley Carson PhD, a Harvard-trained psychologist. They discuss why social connectivity and social support is important for stress mastery, especially during these uncertain times.

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