People who have ‘woke’ opinions are more likely to be depressed and anxious, study suggests

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Those who agreed with ‘woke’ ideas were more likely to be anxious or depressed 
  • Women were also much more likely to align with social justice ideas 
  • READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE Inside the APA’s ABSURDLY woke new dictionary

People who subscribe to ‘woke’ ideas about social justice issues may be at a higher risk of depression and anxiety, a study suggests.

In a set of two studies, researchers in Finland asked more than 5,800 college students and faculty, as well as several members of the general public, to rate how much they agreed with statements widely criticized as ‘woke.’

Translated from Finnish, these included statements like: ‘If white people have on average a higher level of income than black people, it is because of racism’ and ‘trans women are women.’ 

They found that those who aligned with ‘woke’ ideals had higher instances of anxiety and depression.

The researchers found that those who agreed with ‘woke’ statements higher levels of anxiety and depression and lower levels of happiness

Additionally, they were not as happy as those who did not agree with these statements. 

And women were more likely to agree with the statements than men.  

However, political views strongly came into play. The researchers found that being on the political left had a higher association with lower mental well-being than having a high ‘social justice score.’

Oskari Lahtinen, lead study author and senior researcher at the INVEST Research Glagship Centre at the University of Turku in Finland, said that while wokeism started in America, it had now been imported to almost all Western countries.

He said: ‘The arrival of a critical social justice (often called ‘woke’) discourse sparked much debate in Finnish media in the last couple of years.

‘This debate was largely data-free and it could thus be considered a worthwhile question to study how prevalent these attitudes are.

‘Woke’ statements in the Finnish study 

  • ‘If white people have on average a higher level of income than black people, it is because of racism.’
  • ‘University reading lists should include fewer white or European authors.’
  • ‘Microaggressions should be challenged often and actively.’
  • ‘Trans* women who compete with women in sports are not helping women’s rights.’ (reverse scored)
  • ‘We don’t need to talk more about the color of people’s skin.’
  • ‘A white person cannot understand how a black person feels equally well as another black person.’
  • ‘A member of a privileged group can adopt features or cultural elements of a less privileged group.’ (reverse scored)

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‘No reliable and valid instrument existed prior to the study to assess the extent and prevalence of these attitudes in different populations, so I set out to develop one.’

The experiment was first conducted among 851 staff and students at the University of Turku. 

It was then carried out on over 5,000 participants nationwide.

Participants were asked to examine the several statements and rate how much they agreed with them.

This included sentiments like, ‘If white people have on average a higher level of income than black people, it is because of racism’ and ‘A white person cannot understand how a black person feels equally well as another black person.’

The researchers found that three out of five women viewed ‘woke’ ideas positively, yet only one in seven men felt the same way. 

‘The gender divide was probably most surprising to me,’ Dr Lahtinen said. 

Those with left-wing political affiliations were more likely to agree with the social justice statements, as well as women studying social sciences, education, and humanities. 

However, those with more conservative views were more likely to disagree with the statements. 

Dr Lahtinen also found that those who agreed with the sentiments had higher levels of anxiety and depression.

Specifically, those who agreed with ‘If white people have on average a higher level of income than black people, it is because of racism’ were the most likely to be anxious or depressed. 

They also had the lowest happiness scores.

‘The scale would need to be validated in North American samples in order to know how these attitudes manifest there,’ Dr Lahtinen said. 

‘I encourage colleagues in the United States to study the prevalence of these attitudes in the country where they originate from.’

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