Communications 47 (1):5-31 (2022)

To reduce negative emotional responses and to stimulate prosociality, constructive journalism promotes the inclusion of positive emotions and solutions in news. This study experimentally tested whether including those elements indeed increased prosocial intentions and behavior among children, and whether negative emotions and self-efficacy are mediators in this regard. To this end, children were exposed to an emotion-based, solution-based, or non-constructive news video. Results showed that emotion-based and solution-based news reduced children’s negative emotions compared to non-constructive news. No direct effects for prosocial intentions were found, but solution-based news led to less prosocial behavior than emotion-based and non-constructive news. Moreover, negative emotions served as a mediator, self-efficacy did not. The more negative emotions were elicited by a news story, the higher the prosocial intentions and behavior. In conclusion, a constructive style of reporting helps to reduce children’s negative emotional responses but subsequently hinders prosociality.
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DOI 10.1515/commun-2019-0151
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