How to present a crisis - The effects of message timing, message framing and crisis severity on emotions, attitude and behavioral intentions

Eerden, Irene van (2015) How to present a crisis - The effects of message timing, message framing and crisis severity on emotions, attitude and behavioral intentions.

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Abstract:When a crisis hits an organization, the organization has to decide on a crisis communication strategy. Part of the strategy is to decide when to disclose the crisis and how to present the information about the crisis. The primary goal of this study is to experimentally investigate to what extent the timing, proactive or reactive, and framing, rational or emotional, of the crisis message and the impact of crisis severity, low or high, influence emotions, attitude and behavioral intentions. The latter were defined more specifically as anger and sympathy towards the company, competence-based and character-based trustworthiness of the organization, positive and negative word-of-mouth intentions and purchase intentions. By means of an online survey the data was gathered. Participants were assigned to one of eight conditions, all containing a hypothetical crisis message. The findings of this study indicate that crisis severity strongly influences all crisis communication outcomes. Moreover, message framing is an effective crisis communication strategy when used in combination with message timing, as they positively influence sympathy, trustworthiness, positive word-of-mouth intentions and purchase intentions. Furthermore, results show that emotions, both anger and sympathy, are predictors of trustworthiness, word-of-mouth intentions and purchase intentions. This study contributes to the field of research by confirming previous research on message timing and extending literature on message framing and crisis severity in relation to crisis communication. In addition, the interplay between them is a valuable contribution to literature, as it has not been examined before. In sum, the current research supports the notion that a proactive response in crisis communication demands a rational frame for the crisis message, whereas a reactive response benefits from a more emotional frame.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/67825
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