Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

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Replicating and Extending Soroka, Fournier, and Nir: Negative News Increases Arousal and Negative Affect

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Abstract:  The negativity bias hypothesis in political communication contends that people are more aroused by negative vs. positive news. Soroka et al. (2019) provide evidence for this negativity bias in a study in 17 countries across six continents. We find suggestive evidence for Soroka et al.’s (2019) central finding that negativity causes an increase in skin conductance levels in a conceptually close, well-powered, and preregistered replication. We extend Soroka et al. (2019) in three ways. First, we theorise, test, and confirm that negative (vs. positive) news causes an increase in activity of the corrugator major muscle above the eyebrow (using facial electromyography activity) and is associated with a negative affect. Second, we find people self-reporting negative news causes negative affect but that positive (instead of negative) news increases self-reported arousal. Third, we test Soroka et al.’s (2019) argument in another context, the Netherlands. Our article suggests that negative news is, especially, causing negative affect. Doing so, we contribute to the negativity bias argument in political communication research and, at the same time, show the importance of replication in empirical communication research.

Keywords:  corrugator; negative news; negativity bias; physiology; skin conductance

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.7807


© Roeland Dubèl, Gijs Schumacher, Maaike D. Homan, Delaney Peterson, Bert N. Bakker. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.