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
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
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.

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.

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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