Specific event-related data presentation changes embitterment affect - an experimental study

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Beate Muschalla Emilia G. Monne


Background: During the corona pandemic increased rates of embitterment have been found in the general population. As embitterment occurs reactive to triggers related to experienced negative events, and as people were steadily exposed to pandemic-related information, the research question arises: Can embitterment be triggered by pandemic-related information in form of infection rates displayed in figures?

Method: Within an experimental design we investigated whether a figure presenting infection rates in an aggravated manner (seemingly strong infection increase and then stable course, experimental group, EG, n=138) leads to stronger embitterment increase, as compared to a figure presenting infection rates seemingly stable (control group, CG, n=155). Accompanying characteristics with potential influence on embitterment have been assessed: wisdom, general belief in a just world, perceived injustice events during the pandemic.

Results: In contrast to the experimental hypothesis, the EG decreased in embitterment after reading the aggravated infection rates figure, whereas the CG rested stable. People with higher wisdom scores had a lower embitterment level after watching the infection data. There was no association between perceived pandemic-related injustice events and embitterment after watching the infection data. Belief in a just world slightly decreased over the course in both groups.

Discussion: By means of pandemic-related data presentation, embitterment affect can be changed. Contradictory to expectation, the aggravated presentation led to a reduction of embitterment. This example shows that even simple but specific information presentations can induce changes in state affect, and this happens independently from other relevant characteristics (such as perceived injustice events during pandemic, or general belief in a just world).

Professionals who present event-related data in public should explain these data and be aware that information and data presentation may relevantly impact on peoples affects.

Keywords: embitterment, belief in a just world, emotion induction, information, pandemic, corona, Covid-19

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How to Cite
MUSCHALLA, Beate; MONNE, Emilia G.. Specific event-related data presentation changes embitterment affect - an experimental study. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 3, mar. 2022. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/2701>. Date accessed: 14 june 2024. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v10i3.2701.
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