The Effects of Threat Type and Gain-Loss Framing on Publics’ Responses to Strategic Environmental Risk Communication

Sung In Choi (PhD candidate), Jingyu Zhang, and Yan Jin. (forthcoming). “The Effects of Threat Type and Gain-Loss Framing on Publics’ Responses to Strategic Environmental Risk Communication.” Corporate Communications: An International Journal.

Abstract: Among sustainability issues, particulate matter (PM) air pollution has threatened the health and social wellbeing of citizens in multiple countries. The purpose of this paper is to apply the message framing and attribution theories in the context of sustainability communication to determine the effects of risk message characteristics on publics’ risk responses. Using a 2 (message frame: gain or loss) × 2 (attribution type: internal or external) × 2 (country: China or South Korea) between-subjects experimental design, the study examines the influence on publics’ risk responses (i.e., risk perception, risk responsibility attribution held toward another country, and sustainable behavioral intention for risk prevention). Findings include: (1) main effects of message characteristics on participants’ risk responses; (2) the impact of country difference on participants’ differential risk responses; and (3) three-way interactions on how risk message framing, risk threats type, and country difference jointly affect not only participants’ risk perception and risk responsibility attribution but also their sustainable behavioral intention to prevent PM. This study offers new insights to help connect message framing effects with communication management practice at the multi-national level, providing recommendations for government communication practitioners regarding which PM message features are likely to be more effective in forming proper risk perception and motivate sustainable actions among at-risk publics in different countries.

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