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Do people really like good news?

Monday, August 4, 2014
Science and Society

There continues to be calls for the media to focus more on good news and positive stories. It is claimed that highlighting “negative” news like corruption scandals, murder rates and the like on the front pages of newspapers and as first items in newscasts is not really what people want. But is that true?      

It was reported recently that two researchers at McGill University, Canada, designed and carried out a study to test the following hypothesis: Is it true that people who say they prefer good news actually do? Students from the university were invited to participate. The results were consistent with what is commonly known from anecdotal everyday experience and by the media, apparently.       

It was found that participants choose stories that were negative rather than neutral or positive ones. Those interested in current affairs and politics were particularly likely to choose the bad news.