A study published by the American Psychological Association found that the stress of following the daily political news can have a negative impact on people’s mental health and well-being.
While there are strategies to help manage negative emotions, such as distracting yourself from political news, research also shows that the same strategies reduce people’s willingness to act on political causes they care about. Became.
When it comes to politics, there is a trade-off between feeling good and doing good. Protecting yourself from the stress of politics may help promote well-being, but maintaining democratic engagement and activism also comes at a price. “
Brett Q. Ford, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto
This research Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Researchers say that research and poll data show that politics can put a lot of stress on people’s lives. However, most of that research focuses on major political events such as presidential elections. Ford and her colleagues wanted to explore the impact of daily political news on emotional and mental health and how people use different strategies to manage these negative emotions. .
“Politics is not just something that affects people during the election season every four years. It seems to permeate everyday life. hmm,” Ford said.
To learn more, she and her colleagues first asked a sample of 198 politically diverse Americans to answer a series of questions each night for two weeks. It’s about the political events that popped into your head that day, the emotions you felt in response, and how you dealt with them. Those emotions, the general psychological and physical health of the day, and how it felt to participate in political action.
Overall, researchers found that thinking about everyday political events evoked negative emotions in participants. Participants who experienced more politically-related negative emotions, on average, reported worsening daily psychological and physical well-being, but were more likely to be involved in political activities, such as volunteering or donating to political campaigns. They also reported greater motivation to act for public causes.
The study asked participants to use measures to manage negative emotions, such as distracting them from the news and “cognitive reappraisal” and reframing their thoughts about news events so that they did not appear negative. Participants who successfully used these strategies to manage their negative emotions reported improved daily well-being, but were less likely to be politically active. The motivation for
The researchers then tested these results on a larger group of 811 participants, including Democrats and Republicans, as well as people who belonged to a different political party or who did not belong to a political party. Results were replicated over 3 weeks.
In a second experiment, Ford and her colleagues watched clips of political news from the top rated liberal and conservative news programs, rather than simply asking participants to report on the politics they encountered. asked to see. In these experiments, participants watched clips from either the Rachel Maddow Show (for liberal participants) or Tucker Carlson Tonight (for conservative participants). In the first experiment, researchers found that participants who viewed political clips experienced more negative emotions than those who viewed neutral, non-political news clips, and found that participants who viewed political clips reported greater motivation to volunteer and take other political actions. This effect was true for participants across political parties.
In a final experiment, researchers asked participants to try several different emotion control strategies while watching clips. We found that two strategies of assessment consistently decreased participants’ negative emotions, which predicted better well-being, but indirectly reduced the likelihood of wanting to take political action. decreased.
Overall, the results suggest that politics has a significant impact on the health and well-being of many Americans on a daily basis.
Matthew Feinberg, Ph.D., co-author of the paper and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, said: .
According to researchers, this is especially important for activists who want to get people to join them in advocating for political causes without compromising their mental health.
“In some ways, this is a trade-off between individual health and collective health,” Ford said. This paper begins by studying emotional acceptance: in everyday life individuals feel that collective action has a certain cost. It is important that people have a variety of tools they can use to stay motivated while managing the chronic stress of politics on a daily basis. .”
Researchers suggest that the impact of politics on well-being in different countries needs to be investigated further. “The United States faces a high degree of political polarization, largely within the two major political parties.
“It will be interesting to see the extent to which day-to-day politics affect citizens in other countries that are less polarized or have different political systems,” Feinberg said.
American Psychological Association
Ford, BQ, and others. (2023) Politics is Personal: The Daily Cost of Politics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000335.