Worry and Media Use Behavior during COVID-19 Pandemic
Background: Information seeking occurs to reinforce existing information, to solve problems, construct meaning, and as a response to alienation. The continual information uncertainty related to COVID-19 pandemic impacted life, livelihood and triggered worry. Information seeking from multiple sources became necessary to allay anxiety and verify authenticity. This research investigated the various sources of information, and its influence on their level of worry.
Methods: An online survey required respondents to indicate their sociodemographic details, different information sources used, awareness of rumors, the ability to check the authenticity of the information, sources, and COVID-19 related experiences. The lowest and highest for worry scale was 1—10.
Results: The median worry during the period was seven, and the number of media accessed was five. Overall worry correlated significantly with other worries (personal and family health, income, job, and lack of growth). Worry differed significantly among age groups, education, occupation, and marital status but not across gender and economic status. Individuals, who self-isolated, experienced issues with rumors, feared infection and death reported significantly more worry. Awareness, fear of infection, and rumors influenced significantly more number of media use.
Conclusions: The extent of worry and the number of information sources showed complex and non-linear ‘U’ shaped relationship with the lowest at six sources. The article extends the information-seeking behavior literature by indicating that the use of a higher number of media sources is counterproductive. Understanding information exchange and information sources can help address public worry.
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