Getting informed is not necessarily bad for mental health

Home Getting informed is not necessarily bad for mental health
Written by Doug Hampton

(ETX Daily Up) – Unless we focus on exclusively positive media, bad news has long been the rhythm of our daily lives. Something that is not without impact on mental health. And yet all it takes is a few good news items a day to lessen the harmful effects of negative information, as a scientific study reveals. These few positive news would even make it easier to believe in human goodness.

News items, armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, global pandemic: has the flow of information absorbed on a daily basis become too anxiety-provoking? Yes, say those who have decided to cut themselves off from the media to preserve their sanity. No, will claim fans of 24-hour news channels where, like many other media, whatever they may be, bad news has long since supplanted good news. While numerous studies have already reported on the impact of this negative information on the well-being of populations, recent research suggests that stories relating to positive acts, like so-called ‘light’ information, would make it possible to mitigate the negative effects of bad news.

Mitigating the impact of bad news

This study was carried out on the initiative of researchers working for the psychology departments of the universities of Essex and Sussex, in the United Kingdom. Published in the journal Plos One, their work is based on the data and declarations of 1,806 people in Great Britain and America. Which were divided into five groups subject to news reports, images, and stories: ‘immorality’ with only negative news, ‘benevolence’ with stories about altruistic acts, ‘entertainment’ with funny or light news, ‘immorality and benevolence’ combining positive and negative information, and ‘immorality and entertainment’ combining negative and funny news.

For the first group subjected to bad news, between world catastrophes and miscellaneous events, the researchers observed a significant increase in negative emotions with, in parallel, a decrease in positive emotions, and a darker perception of humanity and Company. Predictably, but more surprisingly, it was the participants in the ‘immorality and benevolence’ group, faced with malicious acts as well as generous acts, who did not see their emotions soar. negative, quite the contrary. The study shows that these increases were small, and that positive emotions did not decline sharply – and even increased in some cases. Another observation is that altruistic acts have more easily attenuated the negative emotions felt because of bad news than funny or light information.

A necessary rebalancing

“While one in three people limit or avoid the news because of its discouraging content, restoring the balance of news through kindness-focused reporting can offer the hope and lift in mood that people crave. need to continue to be interested in all that is happening in the world,” said Dr Kathryn Buchanan of the University of Essex, in a press release. The study shows that a certain balance between good and bad news, arguably more reflective of reality, would have a positive impact on well-being as well as on the perception of society – and therefore on society itself; positive news acting as a buffer to cushion the effects of negative information.

“There is something uniquely powerful and restorative about seeing the kindness of others that isn’t just because it triggers pleasant feelings,” says Dr. Buchanan. And to conclude: “news presenting the best of humanity attenuates the effect of those exploring the worst of humanity. This allows people to maintain a belief essential to good mental health, namely that the world and the people who compose it are fundamentally good”.

Leave a Comment