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#massshootings in the media: the relationship between construal, perception, and emotion

Jernigan, Morgan Ann (2021) #massshootings in the media: the relationship between construal, perception, and emotion. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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In recent years, mass shootings and school shootings have received a great deal of media attention in the United States. While evidence for mass shooting “contagion” is mixed, media reporting of mass shootings may create a perception that these shootings are becoming more frequent and are causally connected. More research is needed to better understand the relationship between construal of a mass or school shooting in the media (e.g., abstract/causal vs. concrete/descriptive), perceptions of these events (including perceived contagion, perceived norms, and perceived risk) and emotional reactions such as anxiety, sadness, and anger. Two studies were conducted to examine the relationship between construal level, perceptions of contagion, norms, and risk, and negative emotions. Study 1 included an analysis of naturalistic discourse in Twitter posts and replies about the El Paso, Texas Walmart shooting that occurred in August 2019. An examination of both posts and replies found that when tweets contained concrete construal, replies included greater expressions of sadness compared to tweets that contained abstract construal. In Study 2, construal level was experimentally manipulated to examine the influence of construal on relationships between perceived contagion, perceived norms, perceived risk, and negative emotions. As predicted, the relationship between perceived risk and anxiety about mass shootings and school shootings was stronger when primed with abstract construal compared to when primed with concrete construal. Overall, these findings have contributed to our knowledge and understanding of the possible impact of media reporting of mass and school shootings on public perception and emotional response.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Digital Media; Mass Shootings; School shootings; Contagion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
MeSH Subjects: E Analytical,Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment > E05 Investigative Techniques
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Psychological Sciences
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2022 16:43
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2022 16:43
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5777

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