Uneasy Street: Fear and Learning in an Economic Crisis

Posted: 29 Mar 2010

See all articles by Bethany Albertson

Bethany Albertson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Shana Kushner Gadarian

Syracuse University

Abstract

Drawing on literature on emotion and information processing, we argue there is a reciprocal effect between anxiety over the economy and the search for economic news. We expect that citizens concerned over the economic crisis should seek more news about the economy than citizens unconcerned about the economy but pay closer attention to negative news. In turn, negative news about the economy will reinforce and/or increase anxiety about the economy. What is the relationship between economic anxiety and learning? We explore this question with two studies. First, through a survey of Washington state voters and content analysis of media coverage of the economy, we test how economy anxiety affects how individuals process information about the economy during the 2008 presidential campaign. We find that less anxious individuals were likely to watch TV news that covered the economy in a more positive light. In our second study, we experimentally manipulate anxiety over the economy and monitor information seeking in a controlled environment.

Suggested Citation

Albertson, Bethany and Kushner Gadarian, Shana, Uneasy Street: Fear and Learning in an Economic Crisis. Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1580963

Bethany Albertson (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Shana Kushner Gadarian

Syracuse University ( email )

900 S. Crouse Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2130
United States

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