How the news changes the way we think and behave

Alison Holman was working on a fairly ordinary study of mental health across the United States. Then tragedy struck. On 15 April 2013, as hundreds of runners streaked past the finish line at the annual Boston Marathon, two bombs exploded ….  And so it happened that Holman and colleagues from the University of California, Irvine, found themselves in the midst of a national crisis, sitting on data about the mental wellbeing of nearly 5,000 people just before it happened. They decided to find out if that had changed in the weeks afterwards. … “It was a big ‘aha’ moment for us,” says Holman. “I think people really strongly, deeply underestimate the impact the news can have.”