Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kenneth Killebrew, Ph.D.

Keywords

Environmental communication, Emotional appeal, Fear appeal, Humor appeal, Behavior change

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine individual reactions to environmental messages based on three message frames. The frames include shock or fear, humor, and emotional frames. The intent of the study was to document, through the use of pre- and post-questionnaires, individuals' reactions to the three types of messages by measuring attitude or perception change, credibility of the message, and importance of the issue. In this study, baseline knowledge levels and beliefs about environmental issues were examined using a pre-questionnaire. How variable treatments affect attitudes or create perception change with regard to the environmental messages were explored. This study was questionnaire based, with results based on one time pre- and post questionnaires of mass communications undergraduate students at the University of South Florida. Along with message framing, McGuire's Information Processing Theory is useful in determining an individual's psychological context, and the steps an individual will take after a message is presented. This theory gives a "good overview of the attitude change process, reminding us that it involves a number of components" (Severin & Tankard, 2001, p. 175). Using these two theories as underpinning, exploration of the effects of different types of Greenpeace messages is possible. Determining which types of frames promote a behavior change in individuals adds to environmental persuasion research, and ultimately assists the designers of environmental messages and the deliverers of environmental communication.

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