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Interdisciplinary Workshop American Politics (IWAP)

Professor Leonie Huddy from SUNY Stony Brook
Friday, September 7, 2018
3:30-5:00 PM
Prefunction Room (5769) Haven Hall Map
The positive role of negative emotions in facilitating democratic engagement has come to the fore in recent political science research. But negative emotions are not always a democratic plus. In this study, we focus on the ways in which negative emotions drive selective news exposure, focusing on the decision to consume news about terrorist violence. Drawing on data from a two-wave national online panel of Americans, we find that anxiety is associated with avoidance of news stories about recent terror attacks whereas anger is linked to increased consumption and repeat exposure. Panel data confirm that emotions precede selective exposure. Those angry at terrorists in wave 1 were more likely to watch a complete news story about the Boston marathon in wave 2 whereas those who felt anxious in wave 1 were less likely to watch the entire story in wave 2. These findings are consistent with an emotion regulation model of selective news exposure in which news is consumed if it is expected to arouse positive emotions or satisfy functional goals and avoided if it is expected to arouse negative emotions. We also find that exposure to terrorist violence is politically consequential. Those who reported greater exposure to stories of terror attacks were more likely to support aggressive national security policies in wave 1. In addition, a graphic reminder of the Boston marathon bombing in wave 2 boosted support for national security policies by enhancing the effects of anger on support for torture and increasing the effects of anxiety on support for heightened domestic surveillance policies. In developing an emotion regulation approach to the study of selective news exposure, we underscore the political implications of a highly arousing online news environment in which news consumption is driven by both emotional and informational goals.
Building: Haven Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Politics
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Interdisciplinary Workshop in American Politics, Department of Political Science