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Coronavirus News: The More Regulations, the Less Fear

Emotion-related data collected from Media Group Keskisuomalainen’s local and regional newspapers reveals the emotional roller coaster ride that began in the lead-up to the pandemic.



Media Group Keskisuomalainen and NayaDaya Oy analyzed the impact that news about the coronavirus has had on Finns’ emotions and behavior. The analysis was based on readers’ emotional reactions to news articles and a scientific model of emotions and behavior. The analysts have collected emotion-related data from more than 4,000 items pertaining to the coronavirus situation, published over the last six weeks.


The predominant emotion has been fear, growing as the number of virus cases rises. The feeling of fear declined only after the authorities became able to provide clear instructions addressing how one should behave in order to restrict uncontrolled spread of the disease. Also, the government’s restrictions and invocation of the Emergency Powers Act reduced the sense of fear. There was a resurgence of uncertainty when the decision was made on restricting travel to and from Uusimaa. Last week saw an increase in loss-related sorrow, which has nearly reached the same level as the numbers for fear.


The readers assess the situation on the basis of information provided by the government and other authorities, the image created by the media, and social-media discussions.


“From emotion-related data, we can see how uncertainty was followed by a sharp increase in fear and how uncertainty decreased only after clear instructions were provided. Anxiety – or inability of the media or authorities to give clear answers or advice – may lead to dejection. A feeling that someone has taken charge of the situation or of knowing what to do alleviates the sense of threat and the effects of fear. Thus, the body of emotion-related data indicates the consequences of actions and crisis-related information from the authorities and decision-makers,” says Silja Tenhunen, content director for Etelä-Suomen Media, a part of Keskisuomalainen Group.


The most common emotions identified in connection with news items on the coronavirus over the last six weeks have been fear, sadness, interest, compassion, and contentment. Alongside decision-makers and authorities, the news media bear a certain responsibility. The readers must be given reliable information, but also their emotions must be considered.


“We need reporting that helps readers to understand the gravity of the situation yet at the same time reduces unnecessary concern, points to solutions, and encourages you to exercise discretion. Once there is enough information and facts available, one can, via the choice of news items, also strengthen compassion, communality, and activity without encouraging readers to be less cautious or belittling the seriousness of the virus. The increase in compassion detected from the emotion-related data is rooted in journalism that highlights the human angle,” says Tenhunen.


“Emotions indicate priorities in our day-to-day life, and they have a crucial impact on how we behave and pull through a crisis. Particularly by strengthening compassion, love, and interest, the news provider can promote community-minded, contribution-oriented, and strongly motivated behavior and support both economic and health-related recovery. There is no need to avoid fear or sorrow. You can support open and empathic dialogue by using emotion-related data to gain a realistic view of the situation,” says NayaDaya Oy’s CEO, Timo Järvinen.


The emotional effects of the coronavirus pandemic are monitored at www.nayadaya.com. The joint project of Media Group Keskisuomalainen and NayaDaya receives financing from the Google Digital News Innovation Fund.


NayaDaya helps those in charge of managing the crisis by measuring and analyzing the effects of the epidemic on the emotions, behavior, and commitment of various relevant groups. This work also offers the possibility of refining public emotion-related data for the benefit of the entire community. Big Data’s benefits for advanced measurement and for understanding the epidemic can aid the government, authorities, public organizations, associations, schools, companies, and the media. Emotion-related data can inform management of the coronavirus crisis, decision-making, communication, journalism, and public dialogue, also internationally.


Further information:

Timo Järvinen, CEO and Co-founder of NayaDaya Inc., tel. +358 40 505 7745, timo@nayadaya.com


Keskisuomalainen Oyj is a publicly traded media group that has expanded strongly in the new millennium. Media Group Keskisuomalainen has 62 media brands – the group is Finland’s largest publisher of local and town-level newspapers, and it also owns several regional newspapers. In 2019, Media Group Keskisuomalainen’s turnover was EUR 231.1M. The group employs more than 2,000 media professionals. Further information at www.keskisuomalainen.com.


NayaDaya® uncovers the emotional and the behavioral impact of brands and phenomena. Through the groundbreaking insight, it's possible to understand and influence emotional experiences, behavior, and engagement among consumers and citizens. The high-quality data is based on the scientific theory, research, and analytics. NayaDaya Inc. is striving for empathy, to empower responsible brands and organizations to thrive and shape the world. Further information at www.nayadaya.com

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