This study analyzed whether significantly anxious individuals differed from non-anxious individuals in their perceptual ratings of internet memes connected to the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst considering the mediating role of emotion regulation.
The researchers used memes from websites such as Imgur and Imgflip. They revised some of them so that they showed the same image, but with either a caption connected to COVID-19 or a caption about another topic.
The researchers first reckoned how the participants felt, including asking them how frequently in the past weeks they’d felt stressed-out and nervous.
Some of the participants then glanced at three memes — either all related to COVID-19 or all related to different issues. Other participants viewed a description of the meme without an image, and others didn’t look at any memes at all.
Participants then reported their levels of anxiety and positive emotions — such as how calm, relaxed, and content they felt — and their feelings toward COVID-19.
The researchers found that people who viewed memes, no matter the issue, reported happier emotions than those who did not.
Out of the participants who looked at the memes, those who viewed ones with captions about COVID-19 reported lower stress levels about the disease, compared to those who viewed ones with captions about other topics. They also believed about the topic more deeply, which was associated with feeling more assured in their ability to cope with the pandemic.
As the pandemic kept carrying on, it became more and more interesting how people were using social media and memes, as a way to think concerning the pandemic. Viewing just three memes can help people cope with the stress of living during a global pandemic.
Not all people are affected by emotional distress caused by traumatic incidents such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, but some people are suffering from anxiety. Public health supporters or government agencies could even use memes to share important information about stressful events with the public. They said laughter is always the best medicine.
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