Information Vetting as a Key Component in Social-Mediated Crisis Communication: An Exploratory Study to Examine the Initial conceptualization
Abstract: In order to understand publics’ crisis information consumption in an increasingly competitive and conflicting media environment, this study addresses how and why individuals vet information (or not) in social-mediated crisis situations. Built upon the social-mediated crisis communication (SMCC) model as well as grounded in the elaboration likelihood model and the meta-cognition theory, this study proposes an initial conceptual framework of crisis information vetting. An exploratory study, including four focus groups and 13 in-depth interviews, was conducted to investigate: 1) indicators of information vetting behavior according to participants’ self-reported experiences; and 2) what motivate and what prohibit participants from engaging themselves emotionally and cognitively in the process of crisis information vetting. Our qualitative data provide evidences for a two-step process of crisis information vetting, namely, primary vetting and secondary vetting. The 14 sub-constructs and 48 vetting behavior indicators rendered may serve in future scale development and further conceptual model refinement of the new crisis information vetting construct. By connecting publics’ crisis information consumption with their crisis information transmission in social-mediated crisis communication, this study also extends and enriches the SMCC model.