How a shift in focus of news coverage content can affect the safety perception and optimism of the public.

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för psykologi

Abstract: The main aim of the present study was to provide a deeper insight into the collateral consequences of news coverage. More specifically, how the interaction of valence (positive vs. negative) and proximity (domestic vs. foreign) impacts the perceived safety and optimism of the public. One hundred and seventy-four Dutch participants were randomly assigned to one of five conditions (neutral news, positive domestic news, negative domestic news, positive foreign news, and negative foreign news), after which they completed two questionnaires (Safety Rating Scale and Life Orientation Test Revised). Some minor trends were found in terms of valence influencing the perceived safety and optimism as expected (positive news creating higher perceived safety and optimism scores and negative news doing the opposite), while the trends for proximity were more intricate. The only statistically significant results materialised in female participants having a significant lower sense of perceived safety than male participants and young adults having a significant lower level of optimism than middle adults. Most likely due to the limited manipulation, there were limited results. Nonetheless, this study can and should be used as a stepping-stone for future studies. Limitations, positives, and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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