This research attempts to both replicate initial research on media prescriptions–the assignment of small doses of positively-valenced media for the purposes of reducing perceived stress–and, through the lens of the broaden-and-build theory, shed light on the process through which this effect might emerge. Two longitudinal data sets were collected, one with college students (N = 182) and one with U.S. adults (N = 197), in which participants were assigned to watch either comedic or inspiring media clips every day for 5 days. Findings indicated that both amusement and hope generated by media exposure reduced perceived stress over time. Specifically, inspiring media reduced perceived stress through its effect on felt hope for both samples, whereas comedic media reduced perceived stress via felt amusement for the general adult sample only. Further, as predicted, serial mediation through felt emotion and coping efficacy emerged for amusement in the student sample and for hope in the general sample. Given these data were collected during an inordinately stressful time in both the U.S. and the world with rising rates of COVID-19, a highly contentious political election, and tensions over racial inequity, these findings suggest that media, if harnessed appropriately, could be a useful tool in one’s coping arsenal. A call for better understanding of the process through which media prescriptions have effect and their boundary conditions is advanced.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)