Nor, by and large, have there been major shifts or notable trends in more atmospheric questions about the way things are going in today's world and about the general condition of society and of other human beings (15.10-15.18). However, a degree of cynicism about public officials grew in the 1970s and has receded somewhat since (15.14; compare Tables 4.1- 4.3), and there does seem to have been a notable drop after the 1960s in the degree to which people think that other people can be trusted (15.17).
In general, then, data suggest that one should be very cautious about assuming that rises and falls of angst as expressed by political and social commentators reflect similiar trends in the daily thinking of the broad population. For an individual, happiness and discontent may change over time, but in the aggregate these shifts seem to cancel out.
The chapter also includes data about group memberships covering the twenty-year period after 1967 (15.19-15.34). The tables document some decline in the number of people who are members of fraternal groups (15.19), political clubs (15.22), labor unions (15.23), and school service groups (15.26). There has been a possible rise in memberships in sports clubs (15.24) and a quite notable rise (perhaps not entirely beneficial) in memberships in professional or academic societies (15.32).2 Meanwhile, the popularity of hunting appears to be in decline (15.35).
On another issue, people report that they have been watching television and listening to radio about as much as ever (15.36, 15.37), but that they have been reading newspapers less often (15.38). Perhaps they never got the news of their various slumps into malaise.
Andrews Frank M., and Stephen B. Withey. 1976. Social Indicators of Well-Being. New York: Plenum.
Baumgartner Frank, and Jack L. Walker. 1988. "Survey Research and Membership in Voluntary Associations". American Journal of Political Science, 32:908-928.
Campbell Angus. 1981. The Sense of Well-Being in America. New York: McGraw-Hill.____________________