Depictions of Covid-19 in the Media

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Sola, Shelby
Somes, Payten
Bledsoe, Hunter
Wall, Cailyn
Unger, Hope
Honzel, Nikki
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Depictions of Covid-19 in the Media
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Previous studies have shown that after watching an intense video on terrorism, participant’s anxiety towards terrorism increases (Slone & Shoshani, 2006). This study aimed to determine the effects of COVID-19 in the media and how that may impact student’s anxiety. We hypothesized that anxiety would increase after watching a news clip from an opposing politically affiliated news source. Participants were asked to complete the COVID Anxiety Scale and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory before answering whether they typically leaned left or right politically. This information was only used to get an equal number of right and left leaning individuals in each group. Participants were randomly selected to watch a congruent political media clip or an incongruent political media clip. Clips were from either FOX news or MSNBC. After the news coverage, participants again completed the COVID Anxiety Scale and State Trait Anxiety Inventory. The scales from before and after the video were compared for each participant. We found significant differences in anxiety for both the COVID Anxiety Scale and the State Trait Inventory but only for those who leaned right politically. Overall, we found that scores for the COVID Anxiety Scale went down and scores for the State Trait Inventory went up. There was no effect of media exposure. The increase in anxiety only for those that leaned right politically may be because those who leaned left were already anxious about the virus whereas those who leaned right may not have been as concerned prior to the news exposure.
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