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Fear and Anger Responses to Local News Coverage of Alcohol-Related Crimes, Accidents, and Injuries: Explaining News Effects on Policy Support Using a Representative Sample of Messages and People


Corresponding author: Catherine E. Goodall; e-mail:


An experiment investigated emotional reactions to news on policy support. Stimuli were selected from a nationally representative sample of local crime/accident news, and a nationally representative online panel of U.S. adults. Stories were manipulated to mention or not mention the role of alcohol. Anger elicited by stories increased blame of individuals, whereas fear increased consideration of contributing societal factors. Mention of alcohol increased likelihood of different emotional responses dominating—greater anger when alcohol was mentioned and greater fear when not mentioned. Such emotions influence policy support: enforcement of existing laws controlling individual behavior in addition to new laws when anger predominated, and, indirectly, support for new laws changing social context in which alcohol is promoted and sold when fear predominated.