January 13, 2023
2 min read
Following daily political news can cause stress and negatively affect a person’s mental health, researchers reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
However, disengaging oneself from politics to protect mental wellbeing may reduce a person’s motivation to act, the researchers stated.
“When it comes to politics, there can be a trade-off between feeling good and doing good,” Brett Q. Ford, PhD, lead author and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, said in a press release from the American Psychological Association.
“Protecting oneself from the stress of politics might help promote wellbeing but it also comes at a cost to staying engaged and active in democracy,” Ford added.
Ford and colleagues used a longitudinal, daily diary method to track two cohorts of U.S. participants as they experienced political events across 2 weeks (n = 198 participants; observations, 2,167) and 3 weeks (n = 811; observations, 12,790).
“Politics isn’t just something that affects people every 4 years during election season; it seems to seep into daily life. But we just don’t know much about the day-to-day impact politics might have,” Ford said in the release.
In both cohorts, daily political events consistently evoked negative emotions, which led to worse psychological and physical outcomes, but greater motivation to take political action, the researchers wrote. However, when participants tried to protect themselves from the emotional impact of politics, there was a trade-off between wellbeing and action.
“This is a trade-off between individual wellness and collective wellness,” Ford said. “We are working toward identifying strategies that people can use to protect their own wellbeing without coming with costs to the broader collective.”
Ford and colleagues conducted a separate analysis of 922 participants, in which they manipulated exposure to day-to-day politics, as well as another analysis of 1,277 participants who used emotion regulation strategies. Findings from these analyses supported those from the initial two cohorts.
“This paper begins to address this by studying emotional acceptance, a strategy that is linked with greater wellbeing for individuals in daily life, and which doesn’t seem to come with consistent costs to collective action,” Ford said. “It is important that people have a variety of tools they can use to manage the chronic stress of day-to-day politics while also maintaining the motivation to engage with politics when needed.”
Politics seep into daily life, negatively affecting mental health. https://www.newswise.com/politics/politics-seep-into-daily-life-negatively-affecting-mental-health/?article_id=785162. Published Jan. 13, 2023. Accessed Jan. 13, 2023.