America This Week: Fake Financial News, Employees Want You To Give It To Them Straight, Child Welfare Breakdowns and Stress is a Stocking Stuffer.

The latest trends in society and culture from The Harris Poll

In our America This Week poll, fielded December 1st to 3rd, among 2,085 Americans, some easing over economic anxiety is emerging. While still high numbers worry about the economy and inflation (82%), this is a (5%-pt) drop from mid-October. This slight cooling is accompanied by a slight uptick in economic outlooks as reported by the November Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll fielded November 15th to 16th among 2,851 registered voters, which found that (42%) of U.S. voters believe the economy is strong today, the highest since February 2023. Additionally, 3 in 10 (30%) say their personal financial situation is improving, up (6%-pts) since July. 

This week, four new surveys: First, many young investors are falling for financial misinformation on social media. Then, in this era of political divisiveness, should companies say something or nothing about significant global events? Then, we examine American opinions of our child welfare system. And finally, holiday stress is rising with the holidays around the corner.

Young Investors Fall For Fake Financial News: Nationwide-Harris Poll

Social media has become a key channel for financial advice. However, in our new survey with Nationwide, misinformation has begun tripping investors up, especially younger ones. 

  • Gen Z and Millennial investors are heavily accessing financial information, guidance, and advice through social media, the most of any generation (42%, 38% v. Gen X: 16%, Boomers: 5%).
  • Young investors are interested in AI for their financial planning: About a fifth of Gen Z and Millennials are likely to turn to generative AI for financial information and guidance (17%, 21%) and would trust a financial professional more if they leveraged AI to streamline daily tasks (40%, 36%).
  • But (41%) of Gen Z and (34%) of Millennial investors have acted upon financial information they saw online or on social media that turned out to be misleading or factually incorrect.

Takeaway: Talk to a human advisor before you trust a financial meme. “Social media is a powerful tool and a great resource for learning about different financial topics, but it comes with plenty of misinformation,” said Rona Guymon, Senior Vice President of Nationwide Annuity Distribution. “Online information can be inaccurate or not applicable to your situation. That’s why it’s important to scrutinize the financial information you find online – or better yet, turn to an advisor for help.”

Employee Confidence Soars When Leaders Communicate Effectively Around The Middle East Conflict: The Grossman Group-Harris Poll

What, if anything, should communicators share with employees about hard-to-discuss global events? Our new research with The Grossman Group finds that employee confidence in senior leadership, culture, and engagement soars when leaders communicate effectively about the Middle East conflict. 

  • When employers demonstrated best practices communicating about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict – a company statement and manager outreach – (59%) of employees had higher confidence in company leadership, felt better aligned with company culture (54%), and overall employee engagement increased (45%). 
  • Yet only a small number of employees received any communication regarding the conflict: Just 1 in 5 employees reported that their employer had shared an official internal statement, and only about 1 in 6 said their manager had directly communicated with them.
  • Even though half of employees (51%) said the issue in the Middle East had personally impacted them.

Takeaway: “We often hear from CEOs and other top-level leaders that they don’t want to speak out on an issue such as the Middle East because it’s a political issue,” said David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman Group, a Chicago-based leadership and communications consultancy. “That has led many organizations to be tone-deaf to the needs of all employees and concern for their well-being at a time when they’re looking to their leaders to respond in some way.”

America Weighs In On Our Nation’s Child Welfare System: Bipartisan Policy Center-Harris Poll

In new research with the Bipartisan Policy Center, Americans agree that parenting is hard (90%). And in instances when the child welfare system has to be involved, it at times reflects a failure of parental support and systemic biases. 

  • Over one-third of Americans (35%) have had experience with the nation’s child welfare system, with nearly a fifth (18%) having personal experience with the system and the remaining non-personal experience.
  • When it comes to situations involving the child welfare system, a number (31%) report acts of child neglect or abuse usually aren’t the parent’s fault but rather a product of unfortunate circumstances.
  • As well as socioeconomic and racial biases: (73%) agree that too often, decisions on whether the child welfare system should intervene in families are influenced by socioeconomic/poverty biases or even racial biases (60%).
  • Parental support may make all the difference: 3 in 4 (75%) believe neglectful parents can provide safe and nurturing care for their children when they receive needed support.

Takeaway: The American child welfare system is complex. Involving foster care, adoption, prevention of neglect and abuse, and family support. A tangled web of federal and state policies guide public and private organizations. What we find is that Americans accept this complexity by holding strong opinions about the system’s operations and parental responsibility while prioritizing both child safety and family unity.

Stockings Are Stuffed With Stress This Holiday Season: American Psychological Association-Harris Poll

In partnership with the American Psychological Association, Americans feel joyous but overwhelmed this holiday season.

  • 9 in 10 (89%) Americans say that not having enough money, missing loved ones, and anticipating family conflict cause stress at this time of year.
  • Over 2 in 5 (43%) even report that the stress of the holidays interferes with their ability to enjoy them and that the holidays feel like a competition (36%).
  • The holiday season sparks conflicting feelings: Over 7 in 10 (72%) report that the holiday season can feel bittersweet.
  • Stress spreads across belief systems: Roughly a fifth of those who celebrate traditionally Jewish holidays (23%) and those who celebrate other non-Christian holidays (20%) said they experience stress because the holiday season doesn’t reflect their culture, religion, or traditions.

Takeaway: “The holiday season can be both a happy and stressful time of year in part due to expectations to spend time with family and friends, navigate family conflicts, and uphold important traditions,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., APA’s chief executive officer. “At this hectic time of year, it is important that people take care of their mental health, especially in communities whose members feel disproportionately burdened or excluded from what is traditionally considered the holiday season.”

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from December 1st to 3rd among a nationally representative sample of 2,085 U.S. adults.

John Gerzema headshot

John Gerzema


Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from December 1st to 3rd among a nationally representative sample of 2,085 U.S. adults.


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