Elections have consequences for student mental health: An accidental daily diary study


Polling suggested that the 2016 United States presidential election affected citizens’ mood and stress levels. Yet, polling often fails to employ repeated measurement designs that can capture pre- and post-levels of change within the same person. In this study, undergraduate students (N = 85) completed a 14-day daily diary where mood, stress, and mental health outcomes were assessed before and after the election. Multilevel modeling revealed an immediate upsurge in anxiety, stress, and poor sleep quality the day after the election, followed by a recovery period indicating these effects were short-lived. Other reactions (anger, fear, marginalization, and experiencing discrimination) evidenced a significant upsurge without a significant recovery. We consider how daily diary research designs like this one could be integrated into college settings to inform counseling center resource allocation, and we also comment on the promise of the daily diary methodology for political research.

Psychological Reports