Public's Responses to Aviation Accidents: The Role of Exemplification and Attributions
Authors: Hwang, Yoori; Jeong, Se-Hoon
Source: Journal of Applied Communication Research, Volume 40, Number 4, 1 November 2012 , pp. 350-367(18)
Abstract:Although aviation accidents are due to various causes, the media may focus on particular causes, which is likely to contribute to the public's perceptions about aviation accidents. This research examines how the public's prevalence estimates of the causes of aviation accidents can vary when the media provides exemplars of internal causes (pilot error and mechanical failure) and on external causes (weather). The distribution of these exemplars varied between the two experimental messages: internal attribution message and external attribution message. Compared with the external attribution message, the internal attribution message resulted in higher prevalence estimates of internal causes. The internal attribution message had indirect effects on punitive opinions mediated by responsibility judgments. In addition, exemplification effects were observed two weeks after exposure, and the effects were greater among respondents who better recalled the exemplifying information. The results of this study suggest that journalists need to be cautious when using exemplars, corporate communication and public relations practitioners should actively respond to biased exemplification in the media, and the public would benefit from enhanced media exemplification literacy.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2012