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Study: News Media Use Can Impact Perceived Psychological Distance to COVID-19

A new study has found that conservative media use is associated with greater perceived distance to COVID-19, while less partisan news use is associated with a smaller perceived distance. The findings by Jay Hmielowski, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC) Public Relations associate professor, UFCJC doctoral student Alexandrea Matthews and UFCJC Public Relations Assistant Professor Haoran Chris Chu were featured in “Going the Distance for COVID-19: Relationships Among News Use, Psychological Distance, Risk Perceptions, and Behavioral Intentions” published in Science Communication on Sept. 5.

The study examined the relationship between news media use and levels of psychological distance associated with COVID-19.

According to the authors, “As media use continues to become more bifurcated along political lines, and liberals view less partisan media as being trustworthy and conservatives become more likely to question the content of these outlets, it could be that there is too much overlap between the use of liberal and less partisan media outlets to warrant treating them as separate measures moving forward.”

They add, “In the end, the ways that media cover an issue could play an important role relative to the perceived distance people see regarding important issues in society. In essence, our results suggest not only that the media could be creating different realities, but it could also be creating different perceived levels of psychological distance, which could be playing a role relative to the concerns people have regarding important social issues moving forward.”

Posted: September 6, 2023
Category: College News, Covid-19 Updates
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