ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (6): 814-828.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00814

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 The role of emotions in crisis news framing and corporate crisis response

 YUN Yifei; LIU Xiping; CHEN Shiping   

  1.  (School of Educational Science, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300387, China)
  • Received:2016-05-10 Published:2017-06-25
  • Contact: LIU Xiping, E-mail: E-mail: E-mail:
  • Supported by:

Abstract:  Organizational crisis is a low-probability, high-impact event that threatens the viability of the organization and is characterized by ambiguity of cause, effect, and means of resolution. Crisis communication is aim to collect, process, and disseminate of information required to address a crisis situation. This research intended to investigate whether different versions of crisis news report could induce different emotions, then how different emotional frames would affect individuals’ information processing and judgment differently and how these different emotional reactions influenced their preference of subsequent corporate responses strategies. The current study used 2×2×2 between-subject design. Independent variables were that the type of news frame (anger-inducing vs. sadness-inducing) and the type of corporate response toward the crisis (punishment- focused vs. relief-focused) and the presence of intensive emotional appeals in corporate responses (presence vs. absence). This experiment expected to measure subject’s depth of information processing and the original attitudes towards the company through requiring subjects to read different versions of news report illustrating a crisis. Then, public would evaluate the corporate responses credibility, attitudes toward the company and the degree of blame attribution after reading responses released by responsible organization. The results suggested that (1) Emotions induced by different versions of news report resulted in differences of depth of information processing, that was, anger caused heuristic processing, and sadness caused systemic processing; (2) Participants exposed to anger-inducing crisis news had more negative attitudes toward the company than those exposed to sadness-inducing news; (3) Punishment-focused response was more credible; (4) Both relief-focused response and punishment-focused response promoted participants’ attitudes towards company transforming from quite negative to a little bit positive after reading corporate crisis responses, regardless of the type of news frame; (5) Corporate response presenting intensive emotional appeals was more likely to reduce responsibility attribution degree of anger-inducing participants and improve all participants’ attitudes towards the company; (6) Angry and sadness emotional degree significantly declined after participants receiving company’s responses, but didn’t reach base line. The current results suggested that when a company encountering a public crisis, the type of news frame, the type of corporate response toward the crisis and the presence of intensive emotional appeals in corporate responses could combine together to restrict publics' attitudes toward company.

Key words:  crisis communication, emotional reactions, crisis news frames, the type of corporate response, emotional appeals

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