Anger, Sadness and Fear in Response to Breaking Crime and Accident News Stories: How Emotions Influence Support for Alcohol-Control Public Policies via Concern about Risks
Solloway, T.; Slater, M.D.; Chung, A.; Goodall, C.
Journal of Media Psychology 25(4): 160-170
Prior research shows that discrete emotions, notably anger and fear, can explain effects of news articles on health and alcohol-control policy support. This study advances prior work by coding expressed emotional responses to messages (as opposed to directly manipulated emotions or forced responses), incorporating and controlling for central thoughts, including sadness (a particularly relevant response to tragic stories), and examining concern's mediating role between emotion and policy support. An experiment with a national online adult panel had participants read one of 60 violent crime or accident news stories, each manipulated to mention or withhold alcohol's causal contribution. Multi-group structural equation models suggest that stories not mentioning alcohol had a direct effect on policy support via fear and central thoughts, unmediated by concern. When alcohol was mentioned, sadness and anger affects alcohol-control support through concern. Findings help confirm that emotional responses are key in determining news story effects on public support of health policies.