The past year has seen a dramatic rise in existential fear, with people around the world thinking about death twice as often as before, according to new Cornell research.

Pandemic politics, not just the pandemic itself, cultivated a global sense of dread about health and death, causing stifling polarization while sidestepping deeper human questions about mortality and morality, said Uriel Abulof, an associate professor at Tel-Aviv University and Israel Institute Visiting Professor in the Department of Government in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“This collective existential anxiety has some benefits, not least the swift development of vaccines,” Abulof said. “But it has a darker side, too: a grim material, mental and moral toll.”

With Shirley Le Penne, a doctoral student in government, and Bonan Pu, Ph.D. ’20, Abulof co-authored “The Pandemic Politics of Existential Anxiety: Between Steadfast Resistance and…

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