Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
large
med
small
Text Size
 

Health News



Seniors Get Boost From Bad News About the Young

Seniors Get Boost From Bad News About the Young

09/02/10

THURSDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Older people prefer to read negative news stories about the young, possibly because it makes them feel better about themselves, a new study suggests.

"The more time they spent with negative news about young people, the higher self-esteem they reported. They may get some self-esteem boost out of this," said study author Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, an associate professor at Ohio State University's School of Communication.

As for young people in the study, they weren't particularly drawn to stories about older people, or to negative stories about any group.

Overall, the findings suggest that people "are not just neutral processors of information. They have a lot of biases in their selections," said Knobloch-Westerwick.

The researchers recruited 178 young people (aged 18 to 30) and 98 older people (aged 50 to 65) in Germany and asked them to read news stories online. The participants were able to choose which stories they wanted to read.

Some of the stories were "human-interest" pieces that focused on a specific person. The researchers wanted to figure out if the participants had a preference for stories that were about bad things happening to non-celebrities (losing a malpractice suit, for instance) or good things (winning a malpractice suit).

The findings appear in the September issue of the Journal of Communication.

Why did the older people prefer negative stories about younger people? When it came to stories about older people -- like themselves -- they had no preference for positive versus negative.

Society tends to assign older people to a lower status than younger people, Knobloch-Westerwick explained. Looking for negative stories about the young -- those with a higher status -- may help older people feel better, she said.

Also, "everybody likes to think they're better than other people in some way," she said. "If you get information that confirms that, you might like it."

This could explain why older people who chose negative stories about the young had higher self-esteem.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor who studies happiness at the University of California, Riverside, said the study conflicts with other research that shows happier people "don't compare themselves to people who are worse off."

Lyubomirsky added, "They feel good about themselves, and they don't need it. It's like putting someone down to make yourself feel better."

So why does this research matter? It helps shed light on how people make decisions about what they read, Knobloch-Westerwick said.

"We think people are rational and they use the news to stay up to date as part of the democratic process," she said. "But a lot of other factors play a role. You like to see your own group do well, and get a self-esteem boost out of it."

More information

Get details about mental health from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

OF INTEREST:
 

Latest News

Crouse First in Area to Perform Single-Site Hysterectomy
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

CrouseSports Express After-Hours Ortho Care

Immediate care of orthopedic injuries in kids and adults.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >