Changing World News

Icing on the Cake: “Amplification Effect” of Innovative Information Form in News Reports About COVID-19

In the information era, the instant and diversified broadcasting of the COVID-19 pandemic has played an important role in stabilizing the societal mental state and avoiding inter-group conflicts. The presentation of visual graphics was considered as an innovative information form and broadly utilized in news reports. However, its effects on the audiences’ cognition and behaviors have received little empirical attention. The current study applied real-time and retrospective priming paradigms to examine the impacts of information framing (positive vs. negative) and form (plain text vs. pie chart) on individuals’ risk perception (cognition), positive emotion (emotion), and willingness to help others (behavioral intention) during the outbreak and post-pandemic period in China. The results indicated the “amplification effect” of the innovative form of information in the real-time priming condition, which increased the effect of the information framing on cognition, emotion, and behavioral intention. However, in the retrospective priming condition, the amplification effect on cognition and emotion were weakened, while its effect on behavioral intention disappeared. In conclusion, the study found the “amplification effect” of innovative information forms. Further, the difference in the results in the real-time and retrospective priming paradigms suggested the constraint of the context of the “amplification effect,” and indicated the possible deviation of the retrospective paradigm in studies about disaster-related news. This study provides empirical support for how subtle changes in information presentation influence public mental and behavioral responses during a pandemic and has important implications for media psychology and social governance.

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