Correlates of exposure to and seeking out graphic news content: A study of young adults
- Estes, Kayley Danielle
- Advisor(s): Silver, Roxane C
After a mass violence event, images of the incident and its aftermath often spread quickly through online websites and platforms, infrequently including warning labels. Repeated exposure to this graphic content has been shown to be associated with negative psychological outcomes, but limited research has examined who is exposed to the graphic content. This study of young adults (N = 2,578) examined predictors of the frequency and predictors of voluntary exposure to graphic news content. Participants completed an online survey asking how often they viewed five types of graphic news media content and how likely they were to click through a warning label while reading about breaking news events. Results indicated that demographics (female, Latinx), frequency of traditional and new media news consumption, reported anxiety symptoms, prior lifetime exposure to violence, lower disgust sensitivity, and a greater ability to engage in vivid mental imagery were associated with increased frequency of exposure to graphic news content. Individuals who were Latinx, reported depression symptoms, had prior lifetime exposure to violence, and greater ability to engage in vivid imagery were more likely to voluntarily click through a warning label to view graphic news content, while those who were older, female, Asian/Pacific Islander, or higher in disgust sensitivity were less likely to click through a warning label. Understanding who seeks out such content can identify opportunities for intervention to prevent future negative consequences of graphic news exposure.