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Salience and Government Messaging During Crisis

Gillespie, Lucy (2022) Salience and Government Messaging During Crisis. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation is a collection of three essays that investigate the impact of risk salience, government messaging, and political ideology on individuals’ opinions and behavior. The first essay studies the relationship between extreme weather and climate opinion. This paper focuses on the impact of variation in salience and its impact on opinion. It finds that Republicans can be shocked into adopting a favorable climate opinion by exposure to intense weather and both Democrats and Republicans suffer negative impacts from overexposure to extreme weather. The second essay looks at the relationship between evacuation orders and death during a wildfire in Paradise, California in 2018. Here, the focus is on the impact of variation in government orders on evacuation behavior while holding salience constant. It finds that evacuation orders have no impact on the probability of dying and that evacuation orders were issued with systemic bias against communities of color and low-income communities. The final essay probes the relationship between messaging and salience during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic with an experiment on individuals’ mask valuation. The focus here is on the variation of both salience and messaging – answering questions raised in the empirical studies that came from only varying one of the two independent variables. It finds that government messaging is more impactful in low-salience conditions and when those messages provide action-oriented directives rather than simply providing information. Results also suggest that Liberals may be more likely to adhere to government guidance around mask-use regardless of whether the directive is “to mask” or “not to mask”. Together these essays suggest that messages from the government are most impactful when they contain a clear directive and occur early when risk-salience is low, and that ideology shapes an individual’s response.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gillespie, Lucylucy.gillespie@gmail.comleg54
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLinardi,
Committee MemberJones,
Committee MemberHollibaugh,
Committee MemberLa Nauze,
Date: 7 September 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 August 2022
Approval Date: 7 September 2022
Submission Date: 12 August 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 110
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: disaster management, government messaging, crisis, emergency, salience
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2022 17:00
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2023 17:30


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