RESEARCH PAPER
News media exposure and life satisfaction in the COVID-19 pandemic: a moderated mediation model of COVID-19 fear and worries and gender
 
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Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Magdalena Iwanowska   

Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Submission date: 2022-04-05
Final revision date: 2022-10-29
Acceptance date: 2022-10-31
Online publication date: 2023-01-10
 
 
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
Background:
Research has found that news media exposure may have both positive and negative consequences for well-being in times of crisis. However, the internal mechanisms underlying that relationship need further investigation. The pur-pose of the research presented in the paper was to explore the role of COVID-19 fear and worries and users’ gender in the relationship between news media exposure and life satisfaction.

Participants and procedure:
Three hundred seventy-one media users aged 19 to 65 (M = 28.88, SD = 10.25) were surveyed with news media ex-posure, COVID-19 fear and worries, and life satisfaction scales. Correlation analyses and moderated mediation anal-yses were performed.

Results:
The study demonstrated a significant positive association between news media exposure and life satisfaction, and an indirect effect of news exposure on life satisfaction via COVID-19 fear moderated by gender: elevated COVID-19 fear decreases the positive association between news exposure and life satisfaction, and this effect is stronger for women.

Conclusions:
The present study expands our understanding of the role that news media can play in shaping the user’s well-being in a time of a health crisis. It demonstrates that the effects of exposure to news media during a crisis are twofold. On the one hand, the use of news media is associated with a more positive evaluation of one’s life, which may indicate that media use is a way to cope with a crisis. On the other hand, frequent use of news media leads to an elevated level of fear related to COVID-19, which, in turn, lowers the user’s well-being.

 
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