Growing Our Human Potential

The Psychological Effect of Negative News

Breaking NewsI rarely watch the evening news anymore, but did last night. The local news started off with the “Breaking News” featuring a murder. I would guess that at least 80% of the news focused on the negative aspect of humanity. The national news followed with a similar trend, with the only difference that it focused on global or national events. By the time the news was over I was depressed and angry.

I could not stop thinking about the young kids who died when a truck hit their bus, or the families of the passengers on the missing Malaysia flight. I thought about how a tragedy had hit so many families and friends who each now had to grieve a loss. I looked over at an acquaintance and he seemed fine, and asked me if I wanted a beer.

Newspaper HeadlineI switched over to the newspaper that lay on the coffee table. The headlines on the front page were all about something bad.

I have read how these events, images and messages make their way into our subconscious and influence our perceptions and beliefs. Marketing counts on this for brand recognition and associating brands with images and feelings. If we are bombarded with all this negative information than what happens? According to an article in Psychology Today (click here for site), it states,  “So not only are negatively valenced news broadcasts likely to make you sadder and more anxious, they are also likely to exacerbate your own personal worries and anxieties.”

I know, I know…we have to stay in touch with current events to understand what is happening around us. But is it worth the impact that it is having? My approach is to click on an online news source such as or to glance at the headlines, but avoid reading the details. Even with this, I find that it affects my mood. The drama (headlines, images, captions) associated with the event lures us in to read more. It is no longer news but all about entertainment.

What concerns me even more is the impact this is having on our society. We seem to becoming numb to the negativity around us, and even expect it (can’t wait for election time ads).  Although we may be numb, it is the lasting psychological effect that is more of the concern I believe. Well, for now I will avoid the news as much as possible.

What do you think?

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