University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 8.12 Tabloid Headlines in Mind – A Frame for Research (Setälä)

Start date: Dec 08, 2014 12:00 AM

End date: Dec 08, 2014 03:00 PM

Location: Mattilanniemi, Agora, Aud. 3

Sini Setälä. Kuvaaja: Lari KoivistoM.Psych. M.Sc. (Econ) Sini Setälä defends her doctoral dissertation in Cognitive science ”Tabloid headlines in mind”. Opponent Professor Matti Kamppinen (University of Turku) and custos Professor Pertti Saariluoma (University of Jyväskylä). The event is in Finnish.


Many people see tabloid headlines every day, either willingly or because they are placed to meet the eye. This research in the field of cognitive sciences integrates a multidisciplinary understanding of the interpretation process of tabloid headlines. The mental representations evoked lead to the construction of personal meaning. A conceptual model is built based on the empirical studies conducted and the theoretical background. Special emphasis is placed on emotions and their appraisal, and the purposes headlines serve for people. The study of tabloid headlines is a multifaceted phenomenon that reveals discrepancies in what people say and what they really feel. Many of the emotions evoked by headlines were negative. The impact of negativity can be harmful to human well-being. But, tabloid headlines serve many positive purposes in the form of gratification. Gratification is very personal and headlines that could be interpreted as negative on a more general level may serve positive purposes for an individual. Similarly, negative personal meanings may arise from allegedly positive headlines. The impact of the emotions elicited by tabloid headlines will depend on the meanings given to the issues on the headlines and the self-referency of the emotions elicited. Tabloid headlines build and maintain collective representations. They outline the world and depict society. Their study reveals paradoxes in people’s thinking. The study of tabloid headlines offers a way to better understand the individual with personal interpretations and personal meanings in a socially defined world of collective representations.

The dissertation is published in the series Jyväskylä Studies in Computing, ISSN 1456-5390; 202, ISBN 978-951-39-5964-7 (vol.), ISBN 978-951-39-5965-4 (PDF). It is available in the University Library Publications Unit, tel. 040 805 3825,

Keywords: tabloid headline, interpretation processes, mental representation, personal mean

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