Linguistic Agency In Disaster Messaging: Differing Strategies For Threat and Efficacy Perceptions

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The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of linguistic assignment of agency on individuals’ perceptions of source credibility; specifically, this study assessed the impact of linguistic assignment of agency when encouraging the public to download a disaster-related mobile app. The experiment was a 2 (human agency and disaster agency) × 3 (low, medium, and high source credibility) between-subjects post-study design. Participants were randomly assigned to one of six messages encouraging them to download the FEMA mobile application. As predicted, high source credibility led to higher perceptions of threat in messages with linguistic agency assigned to disaster. However, when measuring perceptions of efficacy, messages with linguistic agency assigned to humans were more effective. Finally, as predicted by the extended parallel process model, high levels of perception of threat and perception of efficacy predicted a higher likelihood of participants accepting the invitation to download the mobile app.

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Atlantic Journal of Communication

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