SCOPE: Inoculation Strategies for Risk Communication Messaging

  • Sutton, Jeannette (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


This project provides a framework for establishing a set of best practices for pre-crisis and early onset crisis communication. Existing research provides a detailed summary of the best practices that are appropriate for crisis communication (Seeger, 2006; Sellnow, Ulmer, Seeger, & Littlefield, 2009). Previous research, however, has only recently begun to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies shared prior to a crisis. Inoculation message strategies introduced before and during the acute phase of crises have the potential to diminish loss in confidence of government agencies. Extant inoculation research has shown the ability of inoculation messages to increase attitudinal resistance by enhancing attitudinal confidence (certainty or strength) (e.g., see structural equation model in Pfau, Ivanov et al. 2005). Collaborative work at CREATE among researchers at the University of Kentucky and Decision Research have shown promising potential for inoculation and two-sided persuasion messages shared prior to a terrorist event to diminish loss of confidence and to expedite a return in confidence. This proposal is designed to continue this collaborative research in two ways. First, we will continue to collaborate with Decision Research in an effort to determine the effectiveness of inoculation messages shared by government agencies through traditional media. Second, we will introduce an interpersonal component to our research. Specifically, we will experiment with and explore the potential for interpersonal interaction among consumers to enhance or detract from the inoculation process. From an experimental perspective, we will test the ability of inoculation to elicit interpersonal interactions regarding the topic in the inoculation message as inoculated participants indicate greater frequency of topical discussion with a greater number of conversational partners (Ivanov et al., 2012). Previous research indicates that inoculation elicits a greater amount of post-inoculation “talk”, which leads to greater resistance. Follow up analyses of the “talk’s” content showed the content of the interpersonal interactions generated by inoculation messages’ recipients to include a significantly greater number of references to both message-induced and new arguments in defense of the inoculation-advocated position as compared to the control participants. This evidence substantiates the argument that inoculation messages, in addition to strengthening the positions of the message receivers, may also serve advocacy roles (Compton & Pfau, 2009) where inoculation message receivers influence others in the direction of the inoculation message advocated position. We will also explore the function of interpersonal exchanges via Twitter. By examining Twitter messages exchanged through interpersonal networks, we can better comprehend the degree to which interpersonal messages shared through social media function similarly or differently when compared with face-to-face interpersonal messages. The overall question we seek to answer is can the original recipients of the inoculation message effectively spread the inoculation messages interpersonally?
Effective start/end date7/1/1412/31/15


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.