The immediate impact of viewing positive and negative online news on core belief examination
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AbstractAims This thesis aims to identify if online news content (ONC for short) relates to emotional and cognitive changes in consumers and whether there are protective factors, such as life satisfaction, strong sense of self and lack of social comparison making, against such changes. Methods With the increase consumption in negative ONC, there has been limited amount of research exploring the psychological impact of the consumption of this type of content on viewers. This thesis consists of two studies. Using a between-subject design, participants in study one were asked to complete an online questionnaire which collected self-reported quantitative data via Likert-scales before and after watching ONC. The questionnaire focused on measures of emotion and cognitive dissonance (CD for short). Participants viewed either negative or positive ONC. Study two used the same procedure but focused on the recall of positive and negative ONC instead. The questionnaire focused on measures of CD, life satisfaction, sense of self, social comparison behaviours and the frequency of ONC consumption. All participants were collected randomly via a convenience sample. Study one consisted of 73 participants (42% male, 58% female). Study two consisted of 106 participants (34% male, 64% female). Findings A 2 x 2 ANOVA tested the interaction between participants’ negative and positive emotional change and the type of ONC viewed (positive and negative ONC). The analysis showed that negative ONC influenced an increase in negative emotions and a decrease in positive emotions and caused greater emotion dysregulation compared to positive ONC. A t-test was used to analyse the difference between the type of ONC viewed (negative news or positive news) and examination to core beliefs. The analysis highlighted that there was no significant difference between the positive and negative ONC conditions in terms of the extent to which CD was experienced. However, a stepwise linear regression showed that specific discrete emotions were correlated to CD in each of these conditions. In study two, a mediation analysis demonstrated that people with a lower life satisfaction are more likely to watch a greater amount of negative ONC and this led to greater CD when negative ONC was recalled. People who have a stronger sense of self, were more likely to watch negative ONC and this led to greater CD when negative ONC was recalled. A greater consumption of negative ONC specifically was related to greater CD. Conclusion The findings of this thesis indicate that negative ONC has the potential to influence the emotional and cognitive state of individuals in a negative way and impacting their wellbeing. This could indicate a need to re-examine social media policies regarding the type of content shared online. Individuals might be able to protect their own vulnerabilities when viewing negative ONC. More research is required to develop insight into what protective factors can be enhanced in others, to reduce their vulnerability to the adverse impacts of negative ONC.
CitationAlty, S. (2022) The immediate impact of viewing positive and negative online news on core belief examination. Wolverhampton: University of Wolverhampton. http://hdl.handle.net/2436/625045
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.
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