Event Title

Effect of Social Media News on Mood and Group Identification

Poster Number

095

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Hayes, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Location

Richardson Ballroom – DiGiorgio Campus Center

Start Date

12-4-2019 2:15 PM

End Date

April 2019

Description

This study applies the findings of terror management theory and uncertainty-identity theory to social media. Terror management theory has shown that awareness of death or threat produces anxiety. People combat this anxiety by identifying with a group, which increases secure feelings in the self. Uncertainty-identity theory is similar, showing that feelings of uncertainty are uncomfortable, which motivates people to reduce that uncertainty by identifying with a group. These findings come from face-to-face situations, but little research has explored whether they apply to online situations. This study investigated the effects of social media images on mood and group identification in 40 undergraduate students. Participants completed an online study consisting of four brief news headlines (either all negative or all neutral) followed by mood and group identification measures. Negative images produced significantly higher negative mood than neutral images. Negative mood caused by negative images did not cause stronger group identification. These findings partially extend previous work from terror management theory and uncertainty-identity theory to social media. Negative mood can be produced from very brief exposure to a negative stimulus, but that exposure may not produce group identification as a defense mechanism. The brief exposure to negative media raises questions about how increased and continuous exposure to negative images and headlines affects the daily lives of the millions of people who use media every day.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, Jacksonville, Florida, March 2019

Awards Won

Winner, Psi Chi Regional Research Award, SEPA Annual Meeting, March 2019

Course Assignment

PSYC 302 – Hayes

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Apr 12th, 2:15 PM Apr 12th, 4:15 PM

Effect of Social Media News on Mood and Group Identification

Richardson Ballroom – DiGiorgio Campus Center

This study applies the findings of terror management theory and uncertainty-identity theory to social media. Terror management theory has shown that awareness of death or threat produces anxiety. People combat this anxiety by identifying with a group, which increases secure feelings in the self. Uncertainty-identity theory is similar, showing that feelings of uncertainty are uncomfortable, which motivates people to reduce that uncertainty by identifying with a group. These findings come from face-to-face situations, but little research has explored whether they apply to online situations. This study investigated the effects of social media images on mood and group identification in 40 undergraduate students. Participants completed an online study consisting of four brief news headlines (either all negative or all neutral) followed by mood and group identification measures. Negative images produced significantly higher negative mood than neutral images. Negative mood caused by negative images did not cause stronger group identification. These findings partially extend previous work from terror management theory and uncertainty-identity theory to social media. Negative mood can be produced from very brief exposure to a negative stimulus, but that exposure may not produce group identification as a defense mechanism. The brief exposure to negative media raises questions about how increased and continuous exposure to negative images and headlines affects the daily lives of the millions of people who use media every day.