Presenting the dragon to the eagle : testing the influence of message framing and valence on public perceptions
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The study examined the influence of negative and positive stories framed episodically and thematically on cognitive perception, attitude formation and behavioral intention. Guided by the literature on news framing and negativity bias, the study tested the effects of framing and valence on Americans' perceptions of the human rights issue, their attitudes toward the US engagement policy toward China and their support for the policy. Through a 2 (frame: episodic vs. thematic) x 2 (valence: negative vs. positive) between-subject experiment, the study showed that both negative and positive messages affected issue perception in a way consistent with message valence. Although episodic frame was perceived to be more appealing than thematic frame, policy attitude was influenced less by episodic frame than by thematic frame. As to media's influence on policy support, neither framing nor valence was shown to have any effect on the participants. A comparison of the participants' issue perception, policy attitude and policy support before and after they read the messages showed that thematic frame was more influential than episodic frame only when the messages were negative. While the study in general supports the negativity bias hypothesis, it also calls attention to the role of thematic frame in changing opinions about foreign country. The study's implications and limitations were discussed.
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