Date of Award

Fall 10-7-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

School

Communication

Committee Chair

Lindsey C. Maxwell

Committee Chair School

Communication

Committee Member 2

Laura Stengrim

Committee Member 2 School

Communication

Committee Member 3

Brent Hale

Committee Member 3 School

Communication

Committee Member 4

Steven Venette

Committee Member 4 School

Communication

Abstract

The abortion issue is one of the most polarizing topics within the public and media sphere. How the media chooses to frame the abortion debate may influence public opinion and individual reactions. Specifically, articles that use incongruent abortion frames (pro-life/pro-abortion & anti-abortion/pro-choice) may be contributing to an ingroup versus outgroup mentality by highlighting who is the ingroup and who is the outgroup, thus generating moral disgust and polarization (characterized by anger, bias, and activism) amongst those with opposing views. This study sought to answer whether presenting individuals with an incongruent abortion frame increases anger, bias, and activism (polarization), as well as moral disgust amongst those with strongly held social issue identities of pro-life and pro-choice. The results of this study show that one’s social issue identity outweighed the effects framing may have had on polarization and moral disgust. However, one’s abortion issue position extremity (their actual position on abortion) did interact with the incongruent frames used for this study, resulting in less anger towards the pro-life movement and less bias (like/love) towards the pro-choice movement based on a more liberal issue position (abortion should be allowed for any reason throughout pregnancy). The findings of this study are discussed in relation to Social Identity Theory, Framing Theory, and polarization. Larger implications are also discussed.

Available for download on Tuesday, October 18, 2022

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