Disentangling Economic News Effects: The Impact of Tone, Uncertainty, and Issue on Public Opinion

Alyt Damstra


This study examines the effects of economic news on people’s self-reported interest and their evaluations of the national economy while distinguishing among the tone of the content, the level of uncertainty with which economic information is presented, and the issues covered in the news. Analyses of experimental data (N = 2,168) show that negative news about inflation is consumed with the most interest. Also, the negative effect of bad economic news on people’s economic evaluations is strongest among news consumers who are most interested in the news. The results challenge conventional wisdom about the moderating role of issue obtrusiveness in media effects research. Furthermore, the focus on interactions reveals that typical economic news features shape public opinion not only in isolation and but even more so when their impacts are combined.


economic news, media effects, negativity bias, economic issues, experiment

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