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Elation and Devastation: Relationships Between Media Consumption, Political Affiliation, and Emotional Responses to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election was a uniquely divisive and consequential historic event. How did people differentially emotionally experience this event as a function of political affiliation and media consumption over time? We investigated the relationship between self-reported political affiliation, media consumption, and emotional responses to the 2016 US election, over a 12-month period starting in November 2016, in a U.S.-based online sample (N=500 at Time 1). As expected, Clinton and Trump supporters reported strong differences in emotional response to the election outcome, with Clinton supporters reporting negative affect and Trump supporters reporting positive affect (all ps < .001); emotion intensity in both groups decreased over time (p < .05). Media consumption also decreased over time in all groups (p < .001), and appeared to interact with political affiliation to predict emotional outcome. Using metrics of political bias in individual media sources and self-reported shifts in political affiliation over time, we are conducting further analyses to examine relationships between media consumption, emotion, and political affiliation in terms of individual variance.

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