Journal

COVID-19 Daily Sentiment Survey

Boy, the current global outlook is dim. The news is terrifying, and nearly 1/3 of the eligible workforce is going to be out of a job. As a small business owner, I don't like anything I see or hear. Reading the New York Times every morning only makes it worse.

So what can I do as a user experience professional to understand what is going on when I have no idea what is going on? I can ask questions.

Nearly each day, I sent out a survey on Mechanical Turk asking: "Since yesterday, how are you feeling?" The audience has three choices:

  • More Pessimistic
  • The Same
  • More Optimistic

The goal was to see if I could gain some signal from a random internet population to help me feel better about what is going on in the world.

What am I looking at?

Daily Sentiment Stacked Bar Chart

I was trying to get an understanding of how people are feeling since yesterday. Surveying a general feeling is always tricky but framing it against something concrete like "yesterday" has always revealed better results. In survey design providing an odd number of few choices is ideal. Start in the middle with some default choice. In this example I used "The Same." Very easy, default choice if the participant is unsure. Then there is the choice of optimistic or pessimistic - the real insight I am trying to capture.

Since starting the survey on March 27th, there has been a slow but statically insignificant rise of optimism. There is a bit more certainty into the size, scope, and impact of the virus in the past few days so the results feel right.

COVID-19 Daily Sentiment
Last updated on April 16

Net Optimism

If you take the daily optimism number and subtract the pessimistic answers, you get a net optimism score! The idea was to identify trends in the daily survey results. The yellow line is a linear trendline.

The individual net results swing drastically but there is a clear optimistic trend upwards! It appears that the random internet public thinks slightly more optimistically about what is happening since yesterday.

COVID-19 Net Optimism

Net Growth

The public's perception of whether the virus is growing or shrinking is another indicator of sentiment I thought it would be fun to track. For now, I will display this number over the next few weeks but eventually will analyze the perception versus reality. I imagine we'll find exciting insights! The question we are asking is: "Since yesterday, do you think the number of COVID-19 cases is growing or shrinking in the United States?"

Updates Coming

I intend on updating this post over the next few weeks to track the sentiment of the internet in regards to this insane global pandemic. Be well. Be safe.

Update April 16, 2020

Updated daily survey data. Added the new net growth / shrinkage survey data I have been collecting in the background for awhile.

Overall we are trending in the optimistic direction very slightly. While the economic and unemployment data in the USA is awful, the threat of "The Virus" feels down.

Published

Apr 16, 2020

Author

Steve Berry

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