Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Poll: Americans Say We're Angrier Than A Generation Ago

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say people are more likely to express anger on social media than in person.
Getty Images
Nearly 9 in 10 Americans say people are more likely to express anger on social media than in person.

Do you find yourself getting ticked off more often than you used to?

If the answer is yes, you're not alone.

Some 84% of people surveyed said Americans are angrier today compared with a generation ago, according to the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health poll.

When asked about their own feelings, 42% of those polled said they were angrier in the past year than they had been further back in time.

Anger can have an effect on health.

"I think of anger as a health risk," says Dr. Anil Jain, vice president and chief health information officer at IBM Watson Health. "The fact that the survey showed that we have a generation of Americans who believe that they are more angry than they were a generation ago tells me that this is going to lead to some consequences from a health point of view."

What makes people mad?

Look, we could ask only so many questions about that, so don't be angry with us.

/ NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll
NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll

But we wondered, what about the news? Is that a factor?

The poll found that 29% of people said they were often angry when checking the news. Another 42% said the news sometimes made them angry.

Older people — age 65 and up — were a little less likely to say that they were often angry when checking the news. Only 21% of seniors were in this category, compared with 38% of people younger than 35.

There was a similar difference in reactions to social media. Only 7% of people 65 and above said they were often angry when using social media, compared with 18% of people under 35.

/ NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll
NPR-IBM Watson Health Poll

The poll found that seniors are much less likely to use social media, however, with 28% saying they don't use social media at all, compared with only 2% of people younger than 35 not using it.

In a related question, we asked if people are more likely to express their anger on social media than in person. Overall, 9 in 10 people said that was the case. Perhaps that result is no surprise, but the near unanimity of the opinion on that score seems worth noting.

This year, we took a look at anger in a series of stories that explored the evolutionary roots of anger, the contagious nature of anger in real-life social networks and how you can name your personal anger to help control it. That last story might be helpful after reading this one.

Finally, the poll asked if people think anger is a negative emotion. Almost 7 in 10 said it is. But 31% said that isn't the case. In some instances, as our anger series found, getting mad may be motivating and help lead someone to action.

The nationwide poll collected responses from 3,004 people during the first half of November 2018. The margin of error is +/- 1.8 percentage points.

You can find the full set of questions and results here.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit

Scott Hensley edits stories about health, biomedical research and pharmaceuticals for NPR's Science desk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the desk's reporting on the development of vaccines against the coronavirus.