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Can watching TV make you depressed about your finances?

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Israel - A recent academic study purports that there is a correlation between watching television and pessimism regarding one's own financial status.

The study, conducted by Amir Hetzroni of the Ariel University Center of Samaria, found that the subjects who, according to the study's survey, watched the most television, tended to agree with pessimistic statements regarding their financial future, such as "in the coming year I will sink into debt," and disagree with optimistic statements, such as "I will get a salary increase during the coming year."

The researchers also found that the television watchers pessimism regarding their personal situation affected their outlook on broader economic issues - they tended to agree with statements such as "over the coming year unemployment will increase," while they disagreed with optimistic forecasts such as "during the coming year the stock market will rise significantly."

350 MBA students were polled in the study, which was to be presented at a media studies convention in Singapore.

"One possible explanation is that the general messages conveyed by television shows are ultimately ones of suspicion, pessimism, a cruel world filled with people who seek to cheat one another, and generally bleak," Hetzroni opined.

"Another possible explanation is the opposite one: Why do I watch television to begin with? Maybe because I'm already dissatisfied with life, have no friends and no money, and therefore watch more television when I'm already pessimistic and depressed, and the programs just add fuel to the fire," he elaborated.

Regarding the extent of the connection between watching television and feelings of pessimism, Hetzroni explained that "the effect is not extensive, but it is stable and is maintained even when other variables are taken into account. The affect that watching television has on future economic expectations is weaker than the affect of economic estimates in the present, for example, but has a stronger affect than socio-demographic factors such as sex, age, and even income."

Haaretz
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