Assessing an Organizational Crisis at the Construal Level: How Psychological Distance Impacts Publics’ Crisis Responses

Abstract: To expand the existing scholarly literature on the nature of crisis, this study elaborates on the notion of crisis distance by 1) investigating its influence on publics’ crisis responses (i.e., crisis severity, crisis emotions, organizational reputation, and supportive behavioral intentions) and 2) unearthing the underlying mechanisms behind the effects of crisis distance. An online survey was conducted by recruiting a representative U.S. sample to examine the proposed research questions. The findings offer empirical evidence that each dimension of crisis distance (i.e., temporal, social, and hypothetical crisis distance) is associated with publics’ crisis responses. Furthermore, by investigating distance-crisis-organizational sequence models, the ways in which crisis distance ultimately motivates publics’ supportive behavioral intentions was revealed.