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Memes Can Increase Positive Emotions, Help Cope With Covid-19 Pandemic, Says Study

Memes can be “psychology beneficial” during stressful times, the study noted.

Memes can be “psychology beneficial” during stressful times, the study noted.

The results showed that memes did not reduce Covid-related stress levels, but compared to the non-memes, they increased positive emotions that helped users cope with the pandemic.

We have known for a long time that memes bring happiness, and now science too has proved it. Researchers from the Penn State University have found that viewing memes can increase positive emotions, hereby making us more capable of dealing with stressful situations like the pandemic. In the study published in Psychology of Popular Media, the team asked if internet memes could help people deal with stress. “What we found was that if you viewed memes, you were in a better mood which made you feel more confident in your ability to cope with life during the pandemic,” said Jessica Myrick, professor of media studies at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. In the experiment, 748 persons were shown set of three images each and their reactions were studied. Half were shown memes, and the rest were shown images other than memes.

A press release by the university said: “An example of a meme in this study is a photo of a dog or cat and a humorous caption. Some were Covid-related and some were not. Non-memes were colored boxes, similar to Facebook posts where users choose a background with their text. The results showed that memes did not reduce Covid-related stress levels, but compared to the non-memes, they increased positive emotions that helped users cope with the pandemic."

The memes with Covid-focused captions prompted people to think more deeply about the content they just viewed, according to the study. This was also associated with greater Covid-related coping efficacy. “This research shows that memes, particularly those that relate to a highly stressful context, may help support efforts to cope with the stressor,” Myrick said. “This is evidence that memes about Covid actually help people cope with the pandemic.”

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first published:October 20, 2021, 18:49 IST