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Journal Article

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Oceans are suffering from the dual climatic pressures of warming temperatures and acidification, increasing the presence of disease risks that affect marine organisms and public health. Through a randomized field-based experiment, this study examines the effects of communicating about risks to marine organisms and public health on people’s support for policies aimed at mitigating those risks as a function of different message frames. To maximize the salience of these issues, participants were recruited from ferry passengers (N1⁄4543) in the San Juan Islands of Washington State in the summer of 2013 and randomized to read one of four fictitious news articles detailing the increased incidence of deadly bacteria (Vibrio) in oysters in the Pacific Northwest. Depending on condition, the article attributed the causes to global warming or climate change and the consequences primarily to oyster health or public health—frames that recent research suggests can influence how the public responds to environmental messages. Results showed high levels of support for marine policy and high concern about the prevalence of marine disease risks across the sample (i.e., irrespective of framing condition). Analysis of individual differences suggested that participants with lower biocentric (i.e., environmental) values were more supportive of marine policy when exposed to the article highlighting consequences to oyster health from global warming, an effect that was fully mediated (or explained) by level of self- reported concern. The results demonstrate the importance of communication about marine disease in showing how subtle changes in message frames can elicit differential support for marine policy.


Risk communication, Oysters, Climate change communication, Message framing, Risk perception


Business and Corporate Communications | Environmental Policy | Social Influence and Political Communication

Research Areas

Corporate Communication


Marine Policy



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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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