Reassessing the Role of Anxiety in Information Seeking

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Previous research of the theory of Affective Intelligence holds that anxiety in individuals causes learning behavior. If people are anxious they will actively seek new information. This new information gathered while anxious will cause each individual person to cease acting habitually and begin acting in a manner in line with rational choice models. This thesis addresses three hypotheses; (1) that people who feel anxiety engage in greater information seeking behavior and (2) when people feel anxious they will use information sources that are readily available and efficient to use and (3) anxious individuals will turnout to vote more often than ... continued below

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Williams, Christopher J. August 2008.

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  • Williams, Christopher J.

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Description

Previous research of the theory of Affective Intelligence holds that anxiety in individuals causes learning behavior. If people are anxious they will actively seek new information. This new information gathered while anxious will cause each individual person to cease acting habitually and begin acting in a manner in line with rational choice models. This thesis addresses three hypotheses; (1) that people who feel anxiety engage in greater information seeking behavior and (2) when people feel anxious they will use information sources that are readily available and efficient to use and (3) anxious individuals will turnout to vote more often than those who are not anxious. I began with the replication of the original research methods of Marcus and MacKuen (1993) and Marcus, Neuman and MacKuen (2000). I then tested hypothesis 1 using new measurements of anxiety in order to address the concerns originally posited by Ladd and Lenz (2008) and Valentino et al. (2008). My final test of hypothesis 1 used revised measurements of anxiety and information derived from 2000-2002 NES Panel data, much in the same manner as Marcus, Neuman and MacKuen (2000). I then tested hypothesis 2 using the same 2000-2002 NES Panel data and an information source change variable. I tested my final hypothesis using pooled NES data from 1984, 1988 and 2000. My findings suggest that as Affective Intelligence predicts, people who feel anxious do tend to seek information. Moreover, when anxious, people will use readily available and efficient information sources. My final finding suggests that although people tend to seek information when anxious this does not necessarily translate into greater participation. Finally, I conclude that the theory of Affective Intelligence is generally correct, but, further research using methods that can better demonstrate the causal direction needs to be undertaken to fully validate Affective Intelligence and more testing of the effect of anxiety on political participation is necessary.

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  • August 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 11, 2009, 8:08 p.m.

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  • May 13, 2016, 6:23 p.m.

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Williams, Christopher J. Reassessing the Role of Anxiety in Information Seeking, thesis, August 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9012/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .