CivicScience continually tracks current and anticipated consumer trends. Here are three key insights marketers should know this week. All insights are derived from the CivicScience Social | Political | Economic | Cultural (SPEC) Report, a weekly report available to clients covering the latest news and insights. Get in touch to learn more.

1. Highly active social media users are facing increased feelings of helplessness and discouragement lately.

The CivicScience Emotional Well-Being Index experienced its steepest monthly decline since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, more than 18 months ago, meaning respondents are more likely to report recent strong feelings of sadness, stress, worry, and fear lately. As the Israel-Hamas war deepens, many social media users are being exposed to extreme and violent content as well as rampant misinformation. New CivicScience polling shows heavy usage of social media may exacerbate feelings of helplessness – consumers who use social media at least two hours per day are 10 points more likely to say they have felt more helpless and discouraged than usual lately, compared to non-users.

Join the Discussion: How often do you share positive news stories on social media?

2. Full-time and in-person workers approach holiday spending cautiously amid employment uncertainty.

CivicScience data show that workers are feeling slightly more anxious about their employment situation than they were this time last year – findings which are corroborated by other industry studies and which come on the heels of a hike in unemployment in October. Forty-two percent of employed adults were at least ‘somewhat concerned’ about their current employment situation in October, a three percentage point increase over October 2022.

The percentage of respondents who expect layoff concerns to impact their holiday spending, however, remains the same as last year (44%). Some workers are more likely than others to say their employment worries will affect this season’s holiday shopping – full-time employees are 10 points more likely than part-time employees to expect a significant impact on spending, and in-person workers are seven points more likely than remote workers to say the same.

3. Support for government regulation of AI grows amid the Biden Administration’s executive order.

Last week, the White House issued an executive order, introducing new requirements for AI developers and urging Congress to enact more comprehensive regulations for the rapidly expanding AI industry. CivicScience has previously found that a widely-held concern about AI is its impact on the job market, an area the executive order hopes to address as well. Biden’s executive action represents a noteworthy step toward heightened government oversight of AI, a move now nearly half (48%) of Americans support, marking a four-point increase since April.

Support has risen much more dramatically among Democrats during that time, however – respondents who identify as Democrats are 10 points more likely than they were in April to ‘strongly support’ increased AI regulations. Support is lower, on the other hand, among Gen Z adults, who are twice as likely as older Americans to ‘somewhat oppose’ greater government regulation of the AI industry.

Many Americans have decided to give ChatGPT and other AI models a try throughout 2023. Twenty-six percent of Millennials and 12% of Gen Xers say they’ve used an AI chatbot program, an increase of eight and six percentage points since March, respectively. Usage of chat models during this time has increased by a modest three points among Gen Z adults and only one point among those 55 and older.

Take Our Poll: How concerned are you, if at all, about artificial intelligence-generated content on social media?

Want to see more of the in-depth consumer insights found in this report not covered here? Clients receive the SPEC Report in full plus access to real-time insights, driven by our database of 4 million daily survey responses. Start here to see it in action.