Date of Award

6-2000

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Lester W. Wright

Second Advisor

Dr. C. Richard Spates

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa Baker

Fourth Advisor

Dr. James Gilchrist

Abstract

This study examined the impact o f television news viewing on affective responses in viewers. Participants watched a 10-minute newscast that contained only negative, only positive, or both negative and positive news stories at either 8:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m. Negative news viewers showed elevations in anxiety and negative affect, while positive news viewers showed decreases in anxiety and negative affect. Watching a combined newscast resulted in no mood changes. Affective changes caused by watching the news were not maintained 3 hours after viewing, and morning versus evening viewing had no impact on mood responses to that news. While news content did not impact the ability to remember news, it did influence participants’ impressions o f the newscaster, such that those who saw negative news rated the newscaster much less favorably than did those who saw positive news. Results suggest that watching bad news causes short-term elevations in anxiety and negative affect, while watching good news has the opposite effect. The inclusion o f positive news along with negative news appears to wash out these mood effects. Implications for television news viewers and TV news organizations are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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