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Negative psychological effects of watching the news in the television: Relaxation or another intervention may be needed to buffer them!


The psychological effects of televised news were studied in 2 groups (n=179) of undergraduate students who watched a 15-min random newscast followed by either a 15-min progressive relaxation exercise or a 15-min lecture (control condition). Subjective measures of state anxiety, total mood disturbance (TMD), positive affect, and negative affect were obtained before and after the news, as well as following relaxation exercise or the lecture. The results show that state anxiety and TMD increased, whereas positive affect decreased in both groups after watching the news and 15 min later they returned to baseline (pre-news) only in the relaxation group, whereas they remained unchanged in the control group. These findings demonstrate that watching the news on television triggers persisting negative psychological feelings that could not be buffered by attention-diverting distraction (i.e., lecture), but only by a directed psychological intervention such as progressive relaxation.

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Correspondence to Attila Szabo or Katey L. Hopkinson.

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Szabo, A., Hopkinson, K.L. Negative psychological effects of watching the news in the television: Relaxation or another intervention may be needed to buffer them!. Int. J. Behav. Med. 14, 57–62 (2007).

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Key words

  • anxiety
  • mood
  • newscast
  • relaxation
  • television