Internet memes related to the COVID-19 pandemic as a potential coping mechanism for anxiety

Umair Akram, Kamila Irvine, Sarah F. Allen, Jodie C. Stevenson, Jason G. Ellis, Jennifer Drabble

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This study examined whether significantly anxious individuals differed from non-anxious individuals in their perceptual ratings of internet memes related to the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst considering the mediating role of emotion regulation. Eighty individuals presenting clinically significant anxiety symptoms (indicating ≥ 15 on the GAD-7) and 80 non-anxious controls (indicating ≤ 4) rated the emotional valance, humour, relatability, shareability, and offensiveness of 45 Covid-19 internet memes. A measure of emotion regulation difficulties was also completed. The perception of humour, relatability, and shareability were all greater amongst anxious individuals relative to non-anxious controls. These differences were not mediated by emotion regulation deficits. Internet memes related to the current Covid-19 pandemic may tentatively serve as coping mechanism for individuals experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22305
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2021

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