A Survey Shows Why Americans Are Angrier than Ever

If you’re a white, middle-class woman who scans the headlines all day, you’re more likely than not to be among the angriest of Americans.


“Hmmm. Much anger in him, like his father.” In The Empire Strikes Back (which I watched last week for the first time in decades with my 8-year-old daughter), Yoda expresses doubts about Luke Skywalker’s Jedi training to the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi. “He is not ready,” the pointy-eared Jedi master frowns. Anger, and the hatred it breeds, risks turning you to the dark side of the Force. In the world of Dante’s Inferno, anger is a sin that is brutally punished in the fifth circle of Hell. Openly angry souls (the “wrathful”) endure endless assaults on the banks of the River Styx, while those who suppressed their rage (the “sullen”) continually drown beneath its waters.

Movies and literature to one side, anger isn’t terribly good for you. It is bad for your heart. It raises cholesterol. And it tends to make you miserable. Unfortunately, though, anger seems to be on the rise. “American Rage,” a sweeping survey of 3,000 Americans published last week at Esquire, sketches the contours of anger in the United States.

The upshot is alarming, and some details are surprising: “Half of all Americans are angrier today than they were a year ago,” while only 8 percent say they are less angry than they were last year. The Esquire editors point to a number of factors explaining who is angry at whom, and why. Here are five highlights:

1. The news is a reliable provocation to anger: 68 percent of respondents said they got angry at least once a day after reading or hearing something upsetting in the news:   

  

2. Women are angrier than men. The editors speculate that women tend to be more empathetic than men, leading them to recoil in anger more often when they witness other people being treated poorly.

3. Whites are angrier than blacks. Inverting the spurious stereotype of the “angry black man,” the Esquire survey finds that it is actually white Americans who harbor the most ire: “From their views on the state of the American dream (dead) and America's role in the world (not what it used to be) to how their life is working out for them (not quite what they'd had in mind), a plurality of whites tends to view life through a veil of disappointment. When we cross-tabulate these feelings with reports of daily anger (which are higher among whites than nonwhites), we see the anger of perceived disenfranchisement — a sense that the majority has become a persecuted minority, the bitterness of a promise that didn't pan out — rather than actual hardship. (If anger were tied to hardship, we'd expect to see nonwhite Americans — who report having a harder time making ends meet than whites, per question three — reporting higher levels of anger. This is not the case.)” Meanwhile, “black Americans are generally less angry than whites. Though they take great issue with the way they are treated by both society in general and the police in particular, blacks are also more likely than whites to believe that the American dream is still alive; that America is still the most powerful country in the world; that race relations have improved over the past eight years; and, most important in the context of expectations, that their financial situation is better than they thought it would be when they were younger. Their optimism in the face of adversity suggests that hope, whatever its other virtues, remains a potent antidote to anger.”

4. Anger toward politicians is rooted in a perception that the government is rigged to serve the rich.

   

5. Both the rich and the poor are a lot less angry than the middle class.The least angry household-income brackets: the very rich ($150,000-plus) and the very poor ($15,000 and less). The most angry: the middle of the middle class ($50,000 to $74,999).”

What’s the upshot? If you’re a white, middle-class woman who scans the headlines all day, you’re more likely than not to be among the angriest of Americans. Dante’s punishment notwithstanding, there may be a silver lining to your ire: If you’re mad as hell, you may soon not be willing to take it anymore. In a world that is broken and unjust in so many ways, a little righteous indignation may be just what is necessary to spur a political movement to bring change. Just beware the dark side.   

--

Steven V. Mazie is Professor of Political Studies at Bard High School Early College-Manhattan and Supreme Court correspondent for The Economist. He holds an A.B. in Government from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Michigan. He is author, most recently, of American Justice 2015: The Dramatic Tenth Term of the Roberts Court.

Image credit: shutterstock.com

Follow Steven Mazie on Twitter: @stevenmazie

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less

Active ingredient in Roundup found in 95% of studied beers and wines

The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.

(MsMaria/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
  • A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
  • Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
Keep reading Show less

Robot pizza delivery coming later this year from Domino's

The pizza giant Domino's partners with a Silicon Valley startup to start delivering pizza by robots.

Nuro
Technology & Innovation
  • Domino's partnered with the Silicon Valley startup Nuro to have robot cars deliver pizza.
  • The trial run will begin in Houston later this year.
  • The robots will be half a regular car and will need to be unlocked by a PIN code.

Would you have to tip robots? You might be answering that question sooner than you think as Domino's is about to start using robots for delivering pizza. Later this year a fleet of self-driving robotic vehicles will be spreading the joy of pizza throughout the Houston area for the famous pizza manufacturer, using delivery cars made by the Silicon Valley startup Nuro.

The startup, founded by Google veterans, raised $940 million in February and has already been delivering groceries for Kroger around Houston. Partnering with the pizza juggernaut Domino's, which delivers close to 3 million pizzas a day, is another logical step for the expanding drone car business.

Kevin Vasconi of Domino's explained in a press release that they see these specially-designed robots as "a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey," adding "The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."

How will they work exactly? Nuro explained in its own press release that this "opportunity to use Nuro's autonomous delivery" will be available for some of the customers who order online. Once they opt in, they'll be able to track the car via an app. When the vehicle gets to them, the customers will use a special PIN code to unlock the pizza compartment.

Nuro and its competitors Udelv and Robomart have been focusing specifically on developing such "last-mile product delivery" machines, reports Arstechnica. Their specially-made R1 vehicle is about half the size of a regular passenger car and doesn't offer any room for a driver. This makes it safer and lighter too, with less potential to cause harm in case of an accident. It also sticks to a fairly low speed of under 25 miles an hour and slams on the breaks at the first sign of trouble.

What also helps such robot cars is "geofencing" technology which confines them to a limited area surrounding the store.

For now, the cars are still tracked around the neighborhoods by human-driven vehicles, with monitors to make sure nothing goes haywire. But these "chase cars" should be phased out eventually, an important milestone in the evolution of your robot pizza drivers.

Check out how Nuro's vehicles work: