2020 is abstraction up to be one of those axis point years in history.

The last few months have been a rollercoaster of affections for anybody from fear, loneliness, and apathy under bonds to positivity and affair over the easing of lockdown measures and back up again with animosity of anger and annoyance over the death of George Floyd and too many others. 

Throughout history moments of crisis have often led to moments of major change. As populations are forced to react or adapt to new circumstances, high affections adhere to shape new attitudes and behaviors. 

During WWII the acquaintance of having to ration food, apartment calm during bomb raids, and mix with altered social classes adequate a sense of community spirit and cooperation in the UK. This shift in public affect paved the way for the conception of the abundance state.

In the US of the 1960s, boundless social inequality, action to the war in Vietnam, and animosity of political alienation led to the anti-war, Civil Rights, and Women’s Liberation movements that helped adapt public attitudes.

The Public Affections Framework

With the onset of the global pandemic, Pulsar, an admirers intelligence company, developed a Public Affections Framework to track fluctuations in public affect across the UK and US. This data accumulated with emerging behaviors and trends they’re mapping, allows Pulsar to accommodate audience with a clearer account of how the ‘New Normal’ will shape customer needs and behaviors. 

How does it work? The Pulsar team started by selecting a broad range of affections along with their agnate opposites, including:

  • Joy – Sadness
  • Acceptance – Fatigue
  • Anger – Fear 
  • Caution – Admiration

They then set up their Trends tool to track conversations around accompanying keywords on Twitter. This accustomed the Pulsar team to see how these altered affections have heated up and broiled down from January 2020 to the present. 

What the data tells us 

All data tells a story. If you’ve been living in either the US or the UK over the past few months, your story apparently looks like a telenovela with sweatpants. 

Let’s take a look at what we can learn by comparing these two sets of data:




In both countries, you can see a sharp access in fear and attention on March 11th after the WHO clearly declared COVID-19 a pandemic. 

During Re:Brand, TNW’s first Couch Conference, Pulsar’s CEO Francesco D’Orazio interestingly noted that this acknowledgment started spiking even before both governments issued lockdown measures, advertence that association was ready and in need of new solutions but government responses lagged behind [watch the full video below].


In both cases, you also see that while fear had gone down after the antecedent spike in early March it went up again when both governments appear the ambition to begin easing lockdown measures, demonstrating the alarm and ambiguity around a accessible resurgence. 

Fatigue/boredom was also a common affect that occurred accompanying as the lockdown began and people started alive from home.

“It’s arresting that many affections in the UK and US mirrored each other – which points to the globalization of media coverage, and the common human reactions to these developments that occur behindhand of where addition lives and their specific circumstances,” said Sameer Shah, Pulsar’s Associate Analysis Director.

Fear and fatigue in the US

At the same time, you also see divergences in public affections that point to basal differences in social, economic, and political altitude in each country. 

While in the UK, account was the ascendant affect throughout this period by far, in the US the acutely high levels of both account and fatigue were continuously clashing over time. While both accomplished increases in fear around the same events, in the US public fears were decidedly higher.

It’s hard to say absolutely why we’ve seen these differences but high unemployment, inequality, and political polarisation could be a analytic explanation.

While unemployment rates in the UK have stayed almost stable, the US accomplished a massive increase. Communities of color, in particular, accomplished both higher unemployment rates and higher infection rates which are very likely linked to the access in fear during this period. 


There were also deep capacity in public assessment amid absolute the spread of the virus and aperture up the economy. As Shah points out, the data really demonstrates this:

“Acceptance in the US beneath during April – and this behavior embodied in the pockets of protests (to open up businesses) throughout the country. Indeed, some would aspect this to the altered political environments in the countries – with much of President Trump’s address focused on aperture the abridgement as soon as possible, compared to the UK’s more constant and alert #StayHome messaging.”

This is added accurate by the access Pulsar saw in Twitter conversations around the topic of ‘Liberties’ during this period, bolstered by those advocating to end social break restrictions.  

Emotions reach a baking point after the death of George Floyd

What’s conceivably most absorbing is the newest set of data they shared with us active from mid-May until June 20th. 

While the Pulsar team originally put this Framework calm to admeasurement affections accompanying to the pandemic, they didn’t expect the sudden spike in affections after the death of George Floyd and the consecutive Black Lives Matter protests would far beat affections accompanying to the pandemic. 

If you look at the data, in the US, fear starts aggressive on June 3rd before all other affections and extensive a peak of 96%. Meanwhile, as fear starts to decline, account kicks in extensive 100% on June 6th, the day of George Floyd’s funeral. Mixed in we also see increases in fatigue, caution, and anger. 

In the UK, you also see fear, anger, and attention access but fear never alcove the acute levels it does in the US. Instead, account appears to be the ascendant affect throughout this period which starts to build after June 3rd, the date of the first major accommodating beef in London. 

Is this signaling a time for change?

While it’s difficult to say from the data alone whether the acutely high levels of account during this time are in abutment of the Black Lives Matter movement, when comparing with some other data points, the affirmation absolutely points in this direction. 

A recent poll by ABC found that 74% of respondents view George Floyd’s death as a botheration with basal racial injustice. In comparison, the same catechism was asked in 2014 afterward the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Instead, they found that only 43% of people viewed these events as part of a broader problem, while 51% believed they were abandoned incidents. 

Not only is public acceptance of racial abuse changing, a study by the Pew Analysis Center found that two-thirds of US adults abutment the Black Lives Matter movement, while CNN found that 84% felt that peaceful protest adjoin police abandon is justified. 

Indeed, this year’s Black Lives Matter protests have been the most widely accurate in history, alluring a assorted group of advocates.


As a result of the pandemic, Pulsar has found that discussions around a sense of and need for community have been increasing. While it’s difficult to aspect boundless abutment for the Black Lives Matter protests to animosity of association support, we have seen small communities bind and use their abutment base as a springboard for association activism. 

K-Pop fans, for example, have been one of the most active groups using their deeply knit online communities to take down a Dallas based police app that asked users to share videos of actionable action during protests and, more recently, to buy out tickets to Trump’s Tulsa rally. 

The battlefield for the #NewNormal

However, we’re still seeing cogent differences in public sentiments across party lines. Pew’s analysis also found that Republicans and Democrats see the basal factors for the protests differently. Notably, 82% of Republicans accept one factor that contributed to the protests was people taking advantage of the bearings to engage in bent behavior. 


This continuing analysis can likely be attributed to what D’Orazio terms ‘The battlefield for the new normal.’

During this moment of great change, more accelerating audiences are seeing the ‘New Normal’ as an befalling to bring advanced what they see as absolute changes in society. 

At the same time, more bourgeois audiences have bidding affair that those changes aggregate a threat to accustomed ideas that they see as key to a affluent society. These views have likely fueled the conservative-led protests that linked the aperture of the abridgement to civil liberties. 

Another trend they’ve seen is a huge uptick in conversations around capitalism with many analytic its value as a system. 



As Davide Beretta, VP of business at Pulsar explained, “I think we’ve seen for years people with aggressive political and social agendas try to apostle about on social media for their vision of society, and the new normal, being a major reset, becomes even more of a battleground.” 

We can’t adumbrate the future but with the acute levels of affections we’re seeing, it’s absurd that the activist altitude will simply simmer out and fade as more cities begin easing lockdown measures. Whether we’re ready for it or not, the altitude are ripe for change. The catechism is, what changes do we want to see in our new reality?

This commodity is brought to you by Pulsar.

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