Here's what Americans cared most about this year

Americans said they cared about natural disasters more than pop culture events, according to a year of asking people what they know about vs. what they care about for the Ipsos Care-o-Meter.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab
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The Ipsos Consumer Tracker asks Americans questions about culture, the economy and the forces that shape our lives. Here's one thing we learned this week what we learned over the last year.

Chart showing that Americans said they cared about natural disasters but didn't care about pop culture

We’ve been asking what Americans know about topics and comparing it to what they care about for a full year now with the Ipsos Care-o-Meter; in that time, the work has been featured Bloomberg and Fox TV and the format has been picked up by Axios. The data is a fascinating look into the combination of the American psyche, as well as a sometimes-damning look at our broken information ecosystem.

So, on the occasion of its first anniversary, here are some revealing takeways from one year of Care-o-Meter data collection.

The most cared-about things: Wildfires in Maui, this wave’s Social Security news, Canadian wildfire smoke, the Baltimore bridge collapse and a report of the hottest temperatures on Earth. In short, we really care about climate change news.

The least cared-about things: The mascot being “eaten” at the Pop-Tarts Bowl, Taylor Swift not attending a Kansas City Chiefs game after appearing as Travis Kelce’s guest two weeks in a row, The series finale of “Succession,” “The Bear” actor Jeremy Allen White modeling in a Calvin Klein ad campaign, and this week’s entry of the feud between Kendrick Lamar and Drake. In today’s fractured world, it’s hard for pop-culture headlines to reach critical mass on the Care-o-Meter, it seems.

The biggest gaps between caring and knowing (the things that knowing about didn’t make us care about): Taylor Swift attending the Super Bowl (a 52-point gap between nearly everyone knowing and very few caring), Taylor Swift showing up at Arrowhead Stadium as a guest of Travis Kelce to watch the Kansas City Chiefs, the opening of "Barbie", The Kansas City Chiefs defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, and the coronation ceremony for King Charles III. Yes, we asked about Taylor a lot, but she did wind up Time’s person of the year after all. It was her year by all metrics, except how much the general public cared about her. Which, despite all the wall-to-wall news coverage, was… not much. Sports events also fell often into don’t care, even the Super Bowl was one of the highest-known items (second only to the Baltimore bridge collapse).

The biggest gaps between knowing and caring (the things that people didn’t know but really cared about): Shortages of a key cancer drug leading to rationing and delayed treatments, the last of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile being decommissioned, a trailer filled with approximately 200 Bibles being set on fire in front of a Tennessee church on Easter, this wave’s report about Social Security running out of money in 2033, and IBM announcing plans to pause hiring for jobs that AI could do. The don’t know/do care quadrant saw a lot of economic news (positive and negative) and AI news.

More insights from this wave of the Ipsos Consumer Tracker:

The Ipsos Care-o-Meter: What does America know about vs. what does America care about?

Americans still want vacations, but will we take them?

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends and Foresight Lab