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Emotional Response to News Depends on How the Story is Framed

Emotional Response to News Depends on How the Story is FramedPublic relations practitioners often develop communication strategies for crisis situations — whether it is the sinking of a cruise ship, an oil spill, or a car recall.

A new study determines the “spin” or way in which the news coverage of a crisis is framed, affects the public’s emotional response toward the company involved.

University of Missouri researchers studied the reactions of news readers when exposed to a story about a crisis.

One group read an “anger-frame” story that blamed the organization for the crisis. Another group read a “sadness-frame” story that focused on the victims and how they were hurt by the crisis.

Investigators learned that those who read the “anger-frame” story read the news less closely and had more negative attitudes toward the company than those exposed to the “sadness-frame” story.

“The distinct emotions induced by different news frames influenced individuals’ information processing and how they evaluated the corporation,” says Glen Cameron.

Cameron and Hyo Kim also found that a corporate response to a crisis that focuses on the relief and wellbeing of the victims tends to improve the public’s perceptions of the corporation as compared to the message focusing on the law, justice, and punishment.

This was the case regardless of how the initial news was framed (i.e., anger vs. sadness). Cameron says these findings illustrate the importance of controlling the message during a crisis.

“It is important for corporations to put on a human face during crises,” Cameron said.

“If a corporation can focus on the wellbeing of the victims and how the corporation will improve following the crisis, they have a better chance of influencing “sadness-frame” news coverage as opposed to “anger-frame” coverage. If the news coverage remains “sadness-framed,” public perception will stay more positive.

Investigators believe the research will help inform organizations on the most appropriate or best possible method to handle crisis situations.

“Crises are going to happen,” Cameron said. “Unfortunately, planes will crash and there will be oil spills.

This study helps to show how the public will react to different types of news coverage of crises, and subsequently, what the best ways are for corporations to handle any crises they may encounter.

Source: University of Missouri

News photo by shutterstock.

Emotional Response to News Depends on How the Story is Framed

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Emotional Response to News Depends on How the Story is Framed. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2012/01/16/emotional-response-to-news-depends-on-how-the-story-is-framed/33711.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.