The Indirect Effects Of Exemplification In Two-Sided Messages Of Risk
This dissertation examines the role of negative affect as a mediator of exemplification effects within the context of two-sided messages. To address this research, the dissertation integrates theories from information processing (e.g., affect primacy), information seeking (e.g., Risk Information Seeking and Processing model; RISP), and risk perception (e.g., affect heuristic) with the mass communication theory of exemplification. Focusing on the effects of information processing and risk perception, Chapter 3 reports on an experimental study that empirically tests the degree to which exemplars, by way of negative affect, influence readers' two-sided message recall and risk perception surrounding two controversial risk issues: vaccination and raw milk. Most important, the study bridges research on affect and risk perception with exemplification theory, while also providing practical guidelines for improved risk communication within the fields of public health and journalism. Chapter 4 documents a study that empirically tests the degree to which exemplars, by way of negative affect, influence readers' information seeking intentions and behavior, notably online comment reading. Most important, the study expands the RISP model by (1) bridging risk information seeking with exemplification theory (2) situating RISP within a novel methodological setting (i.e., a randomized experiment), and (3) measuring a specific information seeking behavior not yet studied in RISP (i.e., online comment reading). Overall, findings from the dissertation can (1) help expand our understanding of exemplification theory as it relates to visual exemplars and balanced reporting; (2) more precisely identify sources of risk amplification, uneven recall, and risk information seeking; (3) provide policy tools for improved risk communication in the field of journalism and public health.
Risk Perception; Exemplification Theory; Affect
McComas, Katherine Anne
Avery, Rosemary Jane; Byrne, Sahara E.; Niederdeppe, Jeffrey D. H.
Ph. D., Communication
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis