Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sharing of crisis information in social media: The roles of distance, perspective-taking, and feelings
by Chen, Rongjuan, Ph.D., Stevens Institute of Technology, 2014, 110; 3635984
Abstract (Summary)

What factors drive an individual's response to crisis information? In this dissertation, I take a psychological approach to understanding how individuals decide to forward crisis information to others in a social media environment. Construal-level theory states that psychological distance influences the degree to which people attend to the concrete details versus the abstract gist of an event. In a similar spirit, feelings-as-information theory proposes that feelings influence the extent to which people engage in a detail-oriented processing style versus a holistic processing style.

As an extension of these theories, this work examines the impacts of (1) thinking about a disaster center versus a distant location, (2) taking the perspective of self versus other, and (3) feelings in response to crisis information on sharing of information in social media. According to construal-level theory, a person who imagines self at a disaster center is psychologically close to the disaster and will focus more on the details of the event. According to feelings-as-information theory, a person who reports negative feelings will also attend to the details of the event. Consideration of details results in more involvement and, thus, increases the likelihood to forward disaster-related information.

The main results from two experiments using tweets discussing the 2011 Japan earthquake suggest that imagining a disaster center can increase sharing likelihood only when taking self-perspective and that negative feelings can increase sharing likelihood only when the feelings are associated with high arousal. The results from regression analyses further reveal that feelings can be strong predictors of sharing likelihood.

This dissertation contributes to judgment and decision-making literature by extending construal-level theory and feelings-as-information theory to crisis information sharing in social media. This work also contributes to crisis communication research by demonstrating the importance of psychological factors in crisis information diffusion. Based on all the findings, this dissertation provides insights into the design and use of social media technologies for organizing information during and after crises.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sakamoto, Yasuaki
Commitee: Chandramouli, Rajarathnam, Creamer, German, Sabnis, Gaurav
School: Stevens Institute of Technology
Department: Technology Management
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 76/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Information Technology, Cognitive psychology, Web Studies, Information science
Keywords: Collective intelligence, Construal level, Crisis communication, Feelings as information, Information sharing, Social media
Publication Number: 3635984
ISBN: 9781321173833
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