Newman, Todd P.
Cultural Cognition, Public Opinion, and Media Polarization in the U.S. Climate Change Debate.
Degree: 2016, American University
Climate change is one of the most pressing and contentious policy problems in the U.S. as well as around the world. As a result, researchers continue to focus on understanding why the public and policy-makers hold divergent perceptions and opinions on the issue. One of the prominent theoretical frameworks scholars have applied to uncover how and why the public disagrees about the issue of climate change are the related frameworks of cultural theory and cultural cognition. The value orientations associated with these frameworks have a proven history of explaining variation in opinion and risk perception across a range of science and environmental risks. However, research integrating these theoretical frameworks with mass media effects frameworks remains under-theorized. For members of the “lay” public, as well as for stakeholders and decision-makers, the news media serves as a primary source for information on the issue of climate change, and thus an important context for examination. In this dissertation, I integrate the theoretical frameworks of cultural theory and cultural cognition with mass media effects frameworks. Reviewing this past research (Chapter 2), I describe the changes in the mass media environment over the last several decades, including the rise and influence of politically slanted media sources, and the implications for public perceptions on climate change. I present an overview of the origins of the cultural theory and cultural cognition framework, and describe their application to framing, narratives, and selective exposure research. Building on this integration of existing research, across two empirical studies I attempt to answer a series of core research questions, including: (1) How are culturally consistent or antagonistic cues embedded within different frames of reference? (2) Do cultural worldviews relate to news media choices? (3) Does a respondent’s cultural worldview bias the influence of politically slanted media use on their climate change concern? In a first study (Chapter 3), I rely on quantitative content analysis as well as qualitative discourse analysis to examine how cultural worldviews relate to news media frames. By examining politically slanted media coverage in the U.S. from 2011 to 2014, I show the prominence of frames and cultural appeals across media outlets, as well as demonstrate that specific cultural appeals are more likely to appear with specific frames of reference. I found that right-leaning media outlets were overall more likely to contain Individualistic and/or Hierarchical appeals, while left-leaning media outlets were overall more likely to contain Communitarian and/or Egalitarian appeals. More specifically, I found that Hierarchical and/or Individualistic appeals were more likely to appear with the political conflict frame, while Egalitarian and/or Communitarian appeals were more likely to appear with the disaster/risk, human security, and morality/ethics frame. The science frame, however, did not have any cultural appeal consistently appearing with it.…
Advisors/Committee Members: American University (Publisher), DeNardis, Laura (Thesis advisor), Freelon, Deen (Thesis advisor), Nisbet, Matthew (Other), Nisbet, Erik (Other), Hart, P. Sol (Other).
Subjects/Keywords: Climate Change; Cultural Cognition; Cultural Theory; Framing; Polarization; Public Opinion
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
Newman, T. P. (2016). Cultural Cognition, Public Opinion, and Media Polarization in the U.S. Climate Change Debate. (Doctoral Dissertation). American University. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1961/auislandora:68557
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Newman, Todd P. “Cultural Cognition, Public Opinion, and Media Polarization in the U.S. Climate Change Debate.” 2016. Doctoral Dissertation, American University. Accessed December 14, 2019.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Newman, Todd P. “Cultural Cognition, Public Opinion, and Media Polarization in the U.S. Climate Change Debate.” 2016. Web. 14 Dec 2019.
Newman TP. Cultural Cognition, Public Opinion, and Media Polarization in the U.S. Climate Change Debate. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. American University; 2016. [cited 2019 Dec 14].
Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1961/auislandora:68557.
Council of Science Editors:
Newman TP. Cultural Cognition, Public Opinion, and Media Polarization in the U.S. Climate Change Debate. [Doctoral Dissertation]. American University; 2016. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/1961/auislandora:68557