The emotional fallout from watching TV news

Created date

June 13th, 2018
A man and a woman look concerned while sitting on a couch, watching tv

Watching negative news programs can have more far-reaching effects on emotional well-being than researchers originally thought.

Watching news reports about bad events can make you feel sad or angry. Once you go about your day or settle down for sleep, however, the news is usually off your mind. But for some people who have watched an upsetting news show, feelings of sadness or anger persist, and researchers think this may have more far-reaching effects on emotional well-being than originally thought.

Graham Davey, Ph.D., from the University of Sussex in the U.K., has been studying media and its psychological effects on people. His previous research has shown that people who are regularly exposed to media violence may develop anxiety, depression, stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In his more recent study about the effects of watching television news, participants were divided into three groups and shown a 14-minute news program. One group was shown positive material, one was shown neutral material, and the third watched negative programming.

The results

The group that watched negative programming demonstrated increases in anxious moods and feelings of sadness. In addition, these participants tended to catastrophize personal concerns and feel that small problems in their lives were big ones. These results make sense, as previous research has shown that a bad mood in general can exaggerate feelings about personal issues.

There are some experts who say that today’s news reports focus more on negative topics than positive ones, and more research is needed to determine if resultant feelings of sadness or anger can have a long-term effect on mental health.