Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

8-1-2011

Abstract

Consuming and producing news reports have a substantial negative emotional impact on both users and journalism professionals. This is a concern for both the journalism profession and for society. Does positive reporting and positivity have a place within already existing foundational values and ethics in journalism? Key findings from positive psychology may be particularly relevant to media workplaces. To test this notion in the realm of news reporting, 710 participants completed an online experiment. Participants read a negatively valenced classic style news story and one of five experimentally manipulated variants, which drew on positive psychology principles to slightly alter the language and emotional valence. Participants completed measures of affect and offered impressions of the media. Across participants, affect significantly declined after reading the classic story. Results support the detrimental impact of classic-style news reports, and suggest that it may take multiple positive news stories to counter the emotional impact of a single negative story. Some positive versions proved more effectual for inducing positive emotion, whilst still being viewed as fair and balanced reporting. Despite strong core ethics in journalism of minimizing harm, news reporting is often more focused on repairing damage, thus promoting a disease model of human functioning and negatively affecting human flourishing. However, news media has strong potential for innovation by drawing on the principles of positive psychology. This potential is described and concrete suggestions given.

Keywords

News journalism, Positive Psychology, Innovating, reporting, negative news, positive news, journalist

Date Posted: 21 November 2011

This document has been peer reviewed.