The relation between information and fear during the COVID-19 pandemic


Fear is a primary emotion that has both positive effects on individual survival and negative psychological and social consequences. Beside the instinctual origin, fear is a cultural artefact too. The theoretical framework of the culture of fear affirmed that mass media have a central role in creating and spreading fear. Dramatic events tend to get disproportionate media coverage because they attract public attention. News reports give more space to highly dangerous events increasing the impression of vulnerability among the public. Covid-19 pandemic had an extraordinary attention from mass media and governments becoming the main topic in the political and media agenda of 2020. The aim of the present research was to investigate the relation between the consumption of information concerning the Covid-19 pandemic and the fear during the outbreak of the virus in Italy. The data of the present study were collected immediately after lockdown end on a sample of 644 adults (64.1% females; mean age 42.16, SD=14.84) through a self-report online survey. The consumption of news resulted by far the most related variable to both fear and concern caused by the pandemic, surpassing age too, that is highly correlated to Covid-19 mortality rates. Implications of the results for public health were discussed.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v8i1p79

Keywords: Fear; Mass Media; Information; Path analysis


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