Bachelor of Science
Dr. Ei Hlaing
Dr. Sharon Foreman
Dr. Laura Kicklighter
COVID-19 has made people aware of their own death, referred to as mortality salience. Mortality salience affects behavior. Public health uses reporting to inform the population, and many news reports reference the pandemic’s death toll. The current study investigated the difference in mortality salience between news supporting CDC-recommended guidelines and news not in compliance with CDC guidelines. It was hypothesized that CDC compliant news would induce higher rates of death anxiety. Additionally, non-CDC compliant news would influence lower perceived control of COVID-19. This was a mixed factorial design of 133 students at a small liberal arts university. Survey responses were obtained using Google Forms. Participants were given a death anxiety scale to complete before and after listening to a randomly assigned clip of a CDC compliant or non-CDC compliant report, additionally participants completed a short COVID-19 perceived control scale. The results show no significant difference for mortality salience ratings as well as no significant differences for perceived control of COVID-19 between the two types of news. These results may indicate that a short exposure to news has no meaningful effect on mood as a result of desensitization to COVID-19 after two years of the pandemic. This study of a homogeneous population experiencing similar rates of anxiety provides support for further research in younger populations, and longer exposures to news.
Wilkinson, Jena, "Impacts of Biased Scientific COVID-19 News Reporting on Mortality Salience" (2022). Undergraduate Theses and Capstone Projects. 257.