Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Monica Ancu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Casey Frechette, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Walters, D.V.M.


implicit heuristics, journalism, news consumption, selective exposure


A growing body of research explores implicit negativity bias and how it influences news selection processes of media consumers. However, very little, if any, research exists exploring how negativity bias in the news selection process can be mitigated. Informed by experimental designs that have proven effective in mitigating other types of implicit bias, this study aimed to investigate whether having consumers commit themselves to definitions of their preferred type of news before engaging in the selection process alters manifestations of negativity bias in the selection. This study tested two hypotheses: H1, that non-committed individuals will have a higher selection frequency of negatively phrased news articles, demonstrating implicit negativity bias; and H2, that individuals who pre-commit to defined qualities of their preferred type of news will demonstrate less negativity bias in their media selections. To test these hypotheses, this study surveyed 172 individuals using an online questionnaire that asked participants to choose between a negatively valenced or positive/neutrally valenced headline. Individuals were randomly split into groups, with the variable group being asked to pre-commit to criteria of what type of news they prefer. Data did not support either H1 or H2: participants, regardless of their group, exhibited a selection preference for positive news headlines. Moreover, pre-commitment did not have a measurable impact on what type of headlines participants in Group 2 chose. Possible explanations for these results are explored, and implications for future research on implicit bias mitigation are discussed.