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

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.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Umair Akram, Sheffield Hallam University, Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

Kamila Irvine, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Sarah Allen, Teeside University, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law

Jodie Stevenson, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Jason Ellis, Nothumbria University, Department of Psychology,

Jennifer Drabble, Sheffield Hallam University, Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics