Harte Hanks Behavioral Index

A global initiative to uncover drivers of emerging behavior. Understanding in the era of COVID-19.

What we did

Analysis of mass,
global language data assets

355M

global
conversations

1,100

People
surveyed (U.S.)

2M

words compared and ranked

20,000

media stories
audited

WHAT WE FOUND

Our behavior is influenced — much more than we know or want — by the environment of the moment

75%

are surprised by
what’s happening now

Extreme environments rapidly change behavioral norms

Essential
Workers

Social
Distancing

Stockpiling

THIS IS A BEHAVIORAL RESET

New discoveries, new language,
new patterns and new habits

THE EMOTIONAL SPECTRUM

Five core emotions driving behavior

ANGER

FEAR

UNCERTAINTY

HOPE

JOY

ANGER

FEAR

Uncertain

MOST ARE UNCERTAIN

78%

worried, watchful

and insecure

More likely to talk about work and the supernatural

HOPE

JOY

ANGER

Afraid

MOST
ARE AFRAID

66%

are sad, isolated

and grieving

More likely to seek distraction and talk about staying away

Millennials, Gen X and Boomers are likely here

UNCERTAINTY

HOPE

JOY

ANGER

FEAR

UNCERTAINTY

Hope

MANY
ARE ALSO
HOPEFUL

60%

are optimistic,

in control

and confident

More likely to focus on what they can control and on things that make them content

Gen Z and the Silent Generation are likely here

JOY

CATEGORY BEHAVIORS

Emotional underpinning
of the pandemic gives
rise to dramatic shifts

Shopping

Survey response:

Quote

We are finding more and more how unimportant material items are and what is really important is our safety and happiness.”

Shopping is intensifying and shifting

  • 45% are more likely to stock up on necessities, essentials and supplies
  • 40% are more likely to prepare meals from scratch

PERSONAL FINANCE

Survey response:

Quote

I'm much more budget conscious. I'm not just buying things I don't need.”

Disgust is a primary emotion when thinking of physical money and ATMs

  • Fearful and uncertain focus on preserving cash
  • Hopeful focus on saving for future and retirement
  • 50% of financial behavior is attributable to fear

PERSONAL LIFE

Survey response:

Quote

I'm connecting more with my family. Getting to know them better. Playing games and enjoying the time we all have together.”

Fear and uncertainty are creating a greater need for safeguarding

  • Keeping family safe is the chief behavior
  • 40% are spending more time on social media checking in with loved ones

ENTERTAINMENT

Survey response:

Quote

We will keep the movie night and board games going long after this is all over. We forgot what it was like to enjoy this.”

95% are consuming more media

Top 5 Behaviors:

1 Watching movies at home
2 Watching news
3 Listening to music
4 Binge-watching
5 Reading books

As society slows, we reclaim more analog entertainment

WORK LIFE

Survey responses:

Quote

It's been hectic. I haven't been managing well.”

VS
Quote

I didn't have a healthy balance before.
I find that I'm much happier.”

Conflicting emotions are driving work-from-home behavior

  • Need for real help to find balance
  • 35% of work-from-home behavior is driven by hope

HEALTH

Survey response:

Quote

Started to watch YouTube exercise videos of stretching, meditation, yoga. I'll begin a more vegetable-based diet. I'm more determined to eat healthier.”

#1 behavior is staying away from fast food

Fear is motivator for avoidance, while hope drives proactive health

The future is now

75% will create permanent change in the way they live because of what's happening

Family

More than half
believe families will grow closer

Healthy Lifestyle

Nearly half plan to lead healthier lifestyles

Community

Nearly half expect
more community togetherness

Download the complete
Harte Hanks Behavioral Index: COVID-19

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