Daily dose of politics kills well-being

Politics is a welcome intruder in many of our lives. In fact, we may be living in a time where being politically naive is close to impossible. How does being barraged with political news affect well-being?

A group of researchers led by Matthew Feinberg and Brett Ford looked at how daily political events influenced people’s lives and how they cope with the effects of political news in the US (N=1009). Political events consistently evoked negative emotions in participants resulting in worse psychological and physical well-being. But, people who experienced more negative emotions were also more motivated to take political action; for example, by joining protests.

The researchers also found that people employed cognitive strategies like reappraisal and distraction to assuage negative feelings. But, this resulted in decrease motivation to take political action. The trade-off was avoided when people accepted their feelings instead of trying to negate them; resulting in greater well-being but no reduction in motivation to take political action.

The study suggests that political news is a chronic stressor with considerable effects on mental and physical health. Read more about the study here.