Texas Tech University

Newsflash: We Have a Problem

Lucy Greenberg

September 9, 2022

Watching the News

Three researchers at Texas Tech University recently published a study connecting news consumption to mental and physical illness.


Texas Tech University researchers Bryan McLaughlin, Melissa R. Gotlieb and Devin J. Mills recently published a study titled “Caught in a Dangerous World: Problematic News Consumption and Its Relationship to Mental and Physical Ill-Being.”

The study adds to a growing amount of research on news consumption and how it affects individuals' wellbeing. The study brought together researchers from Texas Tech's College of Media & Communication and College of Human Sciences

The study surveyed a national sample of U.S. adults and measured their propensity to become absorbed in the news, compulsively check the news and experience interference with daily life. Based on their responses, participants were classified as having non-problematic, minimally problematic, moderately or severe levels of problematic news consumption. Individuals who had moderately, or severely problematic news consumption behavior reported higher levels of mental and physical ill-being relative to those who had non-problematic and minimally problematic news consumption. 

Bryan McLaughlin
Bryan McLaughlin

The team will continue their research to better understand problematic news consumption, including how it relates to political hostility, the factors that contribute to problematic news consumption and possible ways people can develop a healthier relationship with the news.  


Bryan McLaughlin, associate professor of advertising, (806) 834-4873 or bryan.mclaughlin@ttu.edu

Talking points

  • The study found that 16.5% of people were classified as having severely problematic news consumption behavior.

  • 73.6% of those who have severe levels of problematic news consumption reported experiencing mental ill-being “quite a bit” or “very much” compared to only 8% of all other study participants.

  • 61% of those who have severe levels of problematic news consumption reported experiencing physical ill-being “quite a bit” or “very much” compared to only 6.1% of all other study participants.

  • Correlations were found between moderately and severely problematic news consumption behaviors and physical symptoms such as back and neck pain, headaches, digestive issues and exhaustion.


  • “For those wanting to form healthier habits around their news consumption, start with awareness,” McLaughlin said. “Be aware of how much news you consume each day. How does it make you feel? These are the questions to start with.”

  • “The environment at Texas Tech has been very beneficial and instrumental to this study,” McLaughlin said. “The resources and infrastructure here make research like this possible. I especially am grateful to the College of Media & Communication for providing a collaborative space that encourages faculty to pursue their intellectual interests.”