Children were exposed to either a constructive
or a non-constructive
newscast about the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The opening (general info about the tsunami) and the ending of both versions of the newscast were the same, however, the three items in the middle of the newscast differed:
- In the constructive newscast, the first item contained solution-based news (help is coming, people are saved). The second item showed an interview with children expressing positive emotions (grandparents in Japan alive and doing fine), and the third item focused on the survivors (dog found alive).
- In the non-constructive newscast, the first item contained problem-based news (search for missing persons is difficult). The second item showed an interview with children expressing negative emotions (sadness about not being able to visit grandparents), and the third item focused on the victims (lots of victims).
Both before and after exposure to the newscast, children’s positive
(i.e., happiness, joy) and negative emotions
(i.e., anger, madness, sadness, sorrow, fear and anxiety) were measured. After watching the newscast, the children also indicated their prosocial intentions
(i.e., whether they wanted to help the people in Japan, give money to organizations, and/or wanted to start a campaign to help the people in Japan).
Finally, half of the children, also participated in a peer discussion about the news in groups of three or four. As a starting point, children were asked to write down their thoughts and ideas about the newscast. After two minutes, children were instructed to discuss this with the other members of the discussion group. After this, they were asked to select the three most important ideas that were discussed. At last, their emotions and prosocial intentions were measured again.