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Psychological Influence of "Professional" News Media

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Relation to Psychology as a Whole

The news as a medium for the acquisition of information is an invaluable tool for many people, allowing for issues and conflicts to be made known quickly and effectively. However, the issue with relying on the media as a reputable and infallible source of fact fails when understanding how it manipulates psychology and emotion. As an entity with dozens or even hundred in employ, news station are required to produce revenue in order to sustain itself, meaning it must attain the greatest amount of viewership as efficiently as possible. This is done by utilizing many ploys, though especially through the use of negativity and appeal. In this, the media manipulates viewer psychology by abusing their sense of empathy and trust. As such, understanding how our own minds affect can better aid in discerning fact from fiction.

Personal Interest

Personal interest in negativity bias and the role the media has on both individual and group psychology arose from discussing fake news. Through learning about fake or unreliable sources, it became increasingly more interesting to analyze how a reputable news source could affect us in the same way, if at all. Often times I would listen or read the news in passing, discovering a majority of the articles being reported on being about crimes or tragedies. Obviously, it stands to reason that headlines need to be jarring in order to pique enough interest for the audience to continue reading or listening. Then a question comes to mind: Why do tragedies or disasters illicit so much response, and why does it populate so many news sources? As such, the negativity that perpetuates the news had also piqued my interest as well.

Literature Regarding the Influence of Media

As stated previously in the paper, negativity bias, or bad news bias, causes both source and audience to differ to negativity or negative articles as more interesting topics. Aday (2010) confirms the presence of this bias ,that “the news has been shown to possess a strong and persistent negativity bias in a variety of contexts.” Taking additional context from other authors quoted in Aday’s journal all essentially state that bad news has greater intrigue and a far more profound effect on the mindset of viewers. As mentioned above, the news functions doubly as both a medium which information can be derived, but also as an entity that requires viewership to generate revenue. Thus, it would be reasonable to assume, that utilizing the bad news bias is an advantage that can be used without being deliberately underhanded or dishonest. However, merely using jarring headlines and provocative imagery cannot maintain a steady viewership, thus the news must also compound their programming by catering to their viewers’ preconceived notions. In the circuitry of the brain, Coutts (2018) writes that people initially exposed or predisposed to a more negative mindset would have a greater propensity towards information that confirms such. As opposed to updating our minds with new information that would provide a more neutral or even positive outlook, Coutts research suggests that it would be simpler to affirm our beliefs that posit new ones. Humans are predisposed to their preset ideals, Liden (2018) attributed this due to “feeling accountable for their… decision which increases the risk of defensive bolstering”, essentially a stubbornness that prevents a person from admitting fault. Combining these two biases allows new medias a new psychological flaw that allows for a greater degree of unseen manipulation ripe for exploitation for its own ends.

While negativity and confirmation are strong enough to entice an audience, using only these methods fails to substantiate claims or convince the audience to maintain loyal viewership. Another tactic that can be utilized, as an off-shoot of the confirmation bias, is the affirmation of a thought or opinion by an authority figure, authority bias. It becomes difficult to refute the claims of an “expert,” merely because of the title attributed to them. While often times an authority figure or a knowledgable person in a particular field or topic can be an invaluable source of second-hand information, therein lies the issue with the authority bias. Zaleskiewicz (2018) asserts that an individual can acquire epistemic authority, through learned and other supplementary means, to the point where an individual is capable of influencing other by title alone. The author further explains that “once people recognize a certain source… they tend to accept the knowledge it provides as true and factual, assimilate it, and rely on it.” Because of this stubbornness, it prevents an audience’s negative view of a subject or group from being dissuaded, using the expert as reliable justification and their views on the matter as a firm basis for their own. This psychological manipulation was observed by Blackstone (2017) confirming the authoritative presence of the media in communities and how their presentation of an event can become assimilated, “If public perception is built on the presentation of events from the media, such coverage could conceivably mislead the public.” In essence, news media has the ability to frame an event in such a manner that selectively chooses the authority that best conforms to an established ideal whilst also conforming to their agenda. Thus, the effect news media has on people is structured using a variety of tactics that are designed to appeal to particular thought patterns and psychological behaviour while being illuminated and emphasized under the veil of negativity.

Significance in Modern Day

The ability that the news has that can so easily manipulate the beliefs of others, and cater a news story to fit any particular narrative necessary has not gone unnoticed. Dishonesty and selective broadcasting are major issues in the modern day, especially with the rise of technology and the continuing ease of access of information from a plethora of sources. It became paramount and necessity for people to critically analyze what information is being present to them, causing individuals to form and express their own opinions while being more accepting and responsive to others. Combining all the perspectives that formed over the course of time allows a more accurate and clearer depiction of the truth behind a particular event, and reduces the influence psychological manipulation. In researching the subject, I have come to understand the ease to which an individual can become blinded by their own personal opinions and accept the easiest answer via Occam’s Razor. If not careful, a person or entity can easily sway public opinion through staging and subjecting audiences to the desired narrative. Additionally, the impact that media has in general has become more apparent, along with the blinding effect of bubbles and mob mentality. With the news and social media becoming more readily available, it falls on us to be wary of anything that may present itself as truth, and it becomes more necessary to discern what had actually occurred from orchestrated narratives. Thus, while it is easier and simpler to confide in other that share your opinion, often times greater understanding comes from engaging in discussion with contrary opinions.

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Psychological Influence Of “Professional” News Media. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/psychological-influence-of-professional-news-media/
“Psychological Influence Of “Professional” News Media.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/psychological-influence-of-professional-news-media/
Psychological Influence Of “Professional” News Media. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/psychological-influence-of-professional-news-media/> [Accessed 16 Aug. 2022].
Psychological Influence Of “Professional” News Media [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2022 Aug 16]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/psychological-influence-of-professional-news-media/
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