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Consumer Research


Americans infected with "Life Rage"

Americans infected with "Life Rage"

The tension between "Life Rage" and "Goodness" is the key cultural current to watch in 2008, according to futurist Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve, which fielded a quantitative that surveyed 1,105 representative Americans online study in December.

"From a visceral worry for our very survival  -our planet, our culture, and our civilization, to fundamental concerns with the direction of our nation, our economy, even our institutional infrastructure," Ms. Popcorn says.

"There is a consistent undercurrent of fear, worry and uncertainty that we see increasingly manifest in behaviour that can only be characterised as 'rage' - a passionate, somewhat undirected and uncontrollable anger with 'the way it is.'"

To say that the nation's outlook is gloomy may be a vast understatement.

Starting with the most "doomsday" scenarios, 19% of those surveyed believe that we have only 20 years until the end of civilization  (5% say less than 10 years).

Pessimism increases among the 45-54 year old cohort, where 22% note that the end is less than 20 years away.

Only 27% of the sample believes "civilization will last forever;" 55% believe that we still have "more than 20 years before civilization ends."

Focusing near term, the outlook is somewhat more sanguine, with a majority (61%) characterizing their "overall outlook toward the next five years" as "optimistic" (16% are "very optimistic", 45% are "somewhat optimistic").

Conversely, 20% describe their attitude toward the near future as "somewhat" (16%) or "very" (4%) pessimistic.

Causes and Effects

It appears "it's the economy, stupid." One-third of the sample agrees completely with the statement, "I am worried that our economy is headed in the wrong direction."

An additional 40% "agree somewhat" with the statement, only 11% disagree.  Again, women were slightly more pessimistic (37% agree completely, vs. 27% of men),  and pessimism increases with age: 23% of 18-24, 28% of 25-34, 35% of 35-44, 40% of 45-54 agree completely. 

Only among 55+ does the percent agreeing completely come back to the overall average of 32%.

"Serious worry" about the safety of food and water supplies over the next 10 years rivals the economy for a focus of pessimism. Some 25% agree completely, an additional 35% agree somewhat, only 17% disagree.

The 45-54 age group leads the worry state, with 31% agreeing completely, and 38% agreeing somewhat.

There is the much vaunted "overload"

Responding to the statement, "I am overwhelmed by the pace of life today; too much noise,  too much to do, not enough time," 23% of the sample agreed completely, and additional 37% agreed somewhat.

This tension directionally grows with age, again until the 55+ group,  who presumably have more control over their time, yet even here, a majority (51%) agrees.

Technology is not the enemy; in fact, clear majorities across the board agree that "technology is making life easier."  Some31% agree completely, an additional 43% agree somewhat. Both men (35% agree completely) and younger people  (36% of those 18-34) have a directionally greater appreciation of technology.

The state of family life split about evenly among the sample overall, with 39% agreeing  "I feel there are more problems and conflicts in my family life than there were in the past".

A nearly equal 42% disagreed with the statement, while 20% cited no change.  Similarly, a majority (53%) agreed "I find myself working harder to make family time"  while only 23% disagreed. A quarter indicated no change.

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