Haitian earthquake disaster : investigating news media choice, mental health, and altruism


The news media is the most common way for individuals to obtain information about a vast range of events. The purpose of the present study was to better understand what factors predict people's news media patterns, including mental health, personality factors, and propensity for altruism. This study investigated whether certain media patterns correlate with higher pathology in viewers. Participants were asked to complete an informal survey in which they provided information about their news patterns in general, and then specifically about their news media pattern when obtaining information about the Haitian crisis. The Haitian crisis served as an example of a crisis event broadcasted by a wide variety 9f news media outlets including local news, cable news, magazines, and internet sources. Additional measures in the study include the Symptom-Checklist-90 (SCL-90) self-report scale as a measure of psychopathology, the Civic Moral Disengagement Scale (CMDs), and the self-report Altruism Measure. It was predicted that participants who accessed news about the disaster through sources that presented a political agenda rather than just reporting the news, would score higher on psychopathology and lower Qn altruism.

Although there was no significant correlation between news media patterns and psychopathology, a correlation between news media patterns and altruistic behavior was found. Personality factors were also significantly correlated to altruistic behavior and media choice. The findings of this study open the doors to further studies in the field of media, personality, and altruistic behavior. Implications of the findings, as well as need for further research are discussed.


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Thesis Completion



Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences

Degree Program



Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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