6A -Monday, April 11, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
fiA - Monday, April 11, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Study reveals positive media
reporting leads to good deeds
People more likely
to donate money
after reading about
acts of kindess
By BRANDON SHAW
Some people are spurred to do
charitable acts after the onset of
an illness or another traumatic
event in their lives, but new
research shows that individu-
als may be inclined to donate
more money after reading about
extraordinary good deeds of oth-
Two years ago, Brent McFer-
ran, an assistant professor of
marketing in the Ross School
of Business, and Karl Aquino, a
business professor at the Uni-
versity of British Columbia, set
out to test their hypothesis that
news stories that feature excep-
tional acts of virtue inspire
people to donate to charity and
do good deeds themselves, com-
pared to stories about positive
The study, which involved
abouto800 participants, was pub-
lished last week in the Journal of
Personality and Social Psychol-
ogy. In the study, subjects were
randomly given a newspaper
article. Half the participants read
a story about a couple watching a
sunset - representative of posi-
tive, optimistic news reporting
and good experiences. The other
participants read a story that
described a 2006 shooting at an
Amish school, where the shooter
killed several children and then
himself. Parents of the victims
forgave the shooter and offered
money to his widowed wife.
After reading the news sto-
ries, participants completed
a survey in which they were
asked to divide a hypothetical
$10 between themselves and an
unknown person. This aspect of
the study sought to test wheth-
er people were more willing to
donate to charity based on the
reception of pleasant news or to
acts of kindness amid difficult
The results revealed that
participants who read the story
about the victims forgiving the
shooter gave 32 percent more
money to the unknown individ-
The results suggest that the
tone of news stories may have a
more powerful effect on readers
than previously believed, McFer-
"Media reports could poten-
tially play a crucial role in the
mobilization of history makers if
less attention was paid to nega-
tive coverage," McFerran said.
McFerran, who called this the
"look in the mirror effect," point-
ed to news stories about suicide,
homicide and other traumatic
events and said the study was
conducted to show that this type
of reporting is done in excess,
with far too little attention being
paid to positivity in the world.
McFerran. and Aquino con-
cluded that people were more
inclined to donate money after
reading stories about extraor-
dinary acts of kindness in the
news, rather than pleasant inci-
dents like a sunset.
Aquino wrote in an e-mail
interview that what he found
most interesting about the study
was "how simply exposing peo-
ple to stories and examples of
extraordinaryvirtue actually led
to changes in behavior."
He added that not only does
this exposure alter people's
actions, but it also "seems to
change how people view human-
ity so that it is more positive."
According to Aquino, the
news stories in the study caused
people to think about their own
lives and howthey might become
better people. He noted that the
study doesn't indicate the lon-
gevity of these effects, though he
said he hopes to explore them in
"Terrible situations certainly
bring light to certain causes, but
a positive story could shed pos-
sibly better light into various
charitable causes," McFerran
said. " ... We hope this research
causes more positive reporting
in the future."
Ann Arbor Police
incident at 700
block of Monroe St.
By NICOLE ABER
A man reported to the Ann
Arbor Police Department that
he was stabbed by another man
while the two were having
an altercation early yesterday
morning, according to a Uni-
versity Department of Public
Safety crime alert.
According to the AAPD, the
man's injuries were not life
The incident occurred at
about 1:25 a.m. yesterday morn-
ing on the 700 block of Monroe
Street, the crime alert states.
The alert was sent at about 5
The suspect fled the scene
going southbound on South
State Street in a vehicle and
was dressed in a blue and white
jacket, according to the crime
AAPD said it could not com-
ment on the incident because
police are still following up on
leads as of midnight last night.
- Daily News Editors Joseph
Lichterman and Devon Thorsby
contributed to this report.
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