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Why Do People Constantly Watch the News and How to Stay Optimistic During Difficult Times?

cognitive psychology, biological psychology, social psychology

In today’s episode of The Psychology World Podcast, we’re going to be talking about Why Humans Constantly Seek Information and How to Stay Positive During Difficult Times? Therefore, this episode goes into social psychology as well as cognitive psychology.

All humans tend to seek out new information, whether it’s the news, the learn more about a hobby or a profession or even if you just want to know what your friends are doing. We all want to seek out new information.

Seeking Out Information Has Psychological Functions:

In addition, according to a new study, there are three functions or reasons why we seek out information.

· Cognitive Utility- this is where we find out information because we believe this information will help us to understand the world better. For example, we watch the news to see what’s happening and we can understand the events of the world, as well as why they’re happening. For example, why Governments are easing or putting in restrictions.

· Instrumental utility- we use this cognitive psychology reason to seek out information that’s can potentially help us. For instance, we might check out the news to see what’s happening in the economy or we might talk to our boss to see what they’re doing about the company. This helps us plan for the future as well as this information might help us to protect ourselves.

· Affect- when we seek out information, for this reason, we’re looking for information to make us feel a certain away. Such as you might seek information about a new film or TV program, so you feel excited or disappointed that the show or film was axed.

Equally, when you encounter disappointment or the information wasn’t what you wanted, you tend to seek out more information or information that’s more positive.

This where the optimism bias comes in.

In short, humans tend to be ‘hard-wired’ to be optimistic so we tend to believe we aren’t as likely to experience a negative event. It’s more long-winded than that but that’s an extremely short definition.

How to Stay Positive in Difficult Times?

Whenever we experience difficult times, it’s important to have ways to help us combat these negative experiences. This allows us to maintain our mental health and it keeps us positive.

Agency and Anticipation:

Not only are these protective factors against negative emotions and bad mental health. These are very helpful in remaining positive because if we are proactive about being positive then we make ourselves positive in return.

For example, we can be proactive by starting new projects and taking steps to ensure our mental health stays positive.

Leading me to mention anticipation, it’s extremely beneficial to have something to look forward to so you can a goal coming up and something to be happy about.

Also, it’s very helpful to take agency as well as anticipation in your life by being proactive and making sure you have something to look forward to.

I hope you enjoyed this social psychology and cognitive psychology podcast episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out Cognitive Psychology 2nd Edition or sociocultural Psychology 2nd Edition.

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Sharot, T., & Sunstein, C. R. (2020). How people decide what they want to know. Nature Human Behaviour, 1-6.

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