Decades of research demonstrate that how the public thinks about a given issue is affected by how it is framed by the media. Typically, studies of framing vary how an issue is portrayed (often, by altering the text of written communication) and compare subsequent beliefs, attitudes, or preferences—taking a framing effect as evidence that a media frame (or frame in communication) instantiated a particular audience frame (or frame in thought). Less work, however, has attempted to measure frames in thought directly, which may illuminate cognitive mechanisms that underlie framing effects. In this vein, we describe a Web experiment (n = 400) in which US political partisans reported the extent to which a “global warming” or “climate change” frame brought to mind various climate-related concepts. Although the media frequently employ them interchangeably, these frames evoked distinct patterns of cognitive accessibility across partisans: Whereas conservatives associated heat-related impacts (rising temperatures, melting ice) more strongly with “global warming” than with “climate change,” liberals associated these impacts equally with both phrases. Discussion focuses on implications for media framing of climate issues and framing theory more broadly.
framing effects, climate change, cognitive accessibility, media frames, motivated reasoning
Business and Corporate Communications | Environmental Policy | Social Influence and Political Communication
Taylor & Francis (Routledge): STM, Behavioural Science and Public Health Titles
SCHULDT, Jonathon P. and Sungjong ROH.
Media frames and cognitive accessibility: What do "global warming" and "climate change" evoke partisan minds?. (2014). Environmental Communication. 8, (4), 529-548. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/4835
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