[PAST EVENT] Even More Negative News(!?)
ABSTRACT: There is little doubt that the 2016 electoral campaign has been amongst the most negative in modern American history. But negativity is not restricted to campaigns. Indeed, political news is almost always predominantly negative. The typical media consumer is as a consequence more exposed to political failure than success, and commentators worry about the effects this may have on political efficacy and engagement. What accounts for the ongoing emphasis on negative information? Some blame a dysfunctional media, but there is another possibility: humans are more activated and attentive to negative information, and the institutions we have designed reflect, and capitalize, on this tendency. This talk considers the tone of election news in light of an ongoing 18-country study of psycho-physiological reactions to network news content. The talk aims to (partly) answer the following questions: Does the human tendency to prioritize negative information vary across cultural and social contexts? What can psycho-physiological studies tell us about the likely impacts of negative news? And despite human negativity biases, can there ever be too much negative news?