NHMC, UCLA Study Shows That Hate Speech On Commercial Talk Radio Could Negatively Impact Listeners’ Health

Biological Effects Occurred in Sample Irrespective Of Listener’s Ethnicity, Personal Beliefs

Pasadena, CA – August 23, 2012 – A pilot study released by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (“NHMC”) and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (“CSRC”) found that listeners subjected to hate speech targeting vulnerable groups experienced an increase in the production of a stress-related hormone that could, over time, have a significant negative impact on the listener’s health. Findings suggest that increased production of this hormone occurs regardless of listeners’ race, ethnicity, nativity, or ideological alignment with the speaker, suggesting that hate speech may harm not only its targets, but all that hear it as well.

For the study, “Using Biological Markers To Measure Stress In Listeners Of Commercial Talk Radio,” researchers collected readings of various biological data (known as “biomarkers”) from live subjects before and after they listened to a 23-minute segment of The Savage Nation, a nationally-syndicated commercial talk radio show hosted by Michael Savage. The segment was chosen due to the prevalence of hate speech targeting vulnerable groups in the clip. After analyzing changes in the biomarkers, researchers observed a statistically significant correlation between changes in clinical anxiety and the production of salivary cortisol, a hormone that when chronically elevated could potentially influence the onset or development of pathophysiological processes or diseases such as cancer or chronic inflammatory diseases. The report recommends further research with a larger sample size and a control group.

“The findings that we release today reinforce something that we have known all along – that hate speech can be harmful to the people that listen to it. While the impact of hate speech against targeted groups, such as Latinos, has always been easy to imagine, this study demonstrates that the harm is not isolated to targeted groups and that it could, in fact, even harm the physical health of those that are ideologically aligned with the haters. For years people have told us to just turn the channel if we don’t like what we’re hearing, but today we are reminded why that measure is
wholly inadequate,” said Alex Nogales, NHMC’s President & CEO.

The study was conducted by researchers at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center with support from the National Hispanic Media Coalition through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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