Murrow Media Mind Lab funded to discover media influence on young adults’ mental health

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The Arthur W. Page Center has funded WSU’s new project investigating the mental health of Generation Z in the post-Covid world. The project, which combines content analysis with high end psychophysiological measurements, explores how narrative videos and social media influencers motivate and impact the mental health of young adults.

The two-phase project is being conducted by Murrow College of Communication professor Yen-I Lee and graduate student Di Mu of the Murrow Mind Media Lab. Through multiple measures of psychophysiology and survey, the study aims to investigate how videos featuring different emotions impact participants’ online engagement, emotional and cognitive processes, and prosocial behavior about mental health. The work is focusing on Gen Z due to findings that suggest they have been more heavily affected by mental illness.

“Recent research from the National Institutes of Mental Health suggests that young adults aged 18–25 years had the highest prevalence of any mental illness. This young-aged group also has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID‑19 pandemic,” Lee said, “This study will provide theoretical and practical insights to advance prosocial communication about mental health for communication scholars, practitioners, and organizations according to findings. The study will also provide informative recommendations to health organizations about strategically designing social media campaigns and effectively communicating with their target stakeholders and communities about mental illness.”

Di Mu, a graduate student whose research focuses on the role of positive emotions and technology to promote health and wellness, explained that while the first stage will focus on how narrative videos impact the subjects, the second will partner with social media influencers to examine if and how they motivate Gen Z to take positive prosocial behavior about mental health.

“We are trying to understand how emotional shifts may impact individuals’ cognitive and emotional processes of the videos, and how social media influencers play a role in this process, which in turn, promotes higher intentions to take prosocial actions about mental health. We also hope the findings can help prevent the tragedy of mental illness from individual to community and society.” Mu said.

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