Athens, OH – Surin Chung presented “Uncertainty Management in Mass Shootings: Antecedents, Appraisals, and Communication Behavior” at the SMART Lab Dialogue Series February 20. Surin is an assistant professor in the Scripps School of Journalism. His research is focused in strategic communication with a public relations emphasis, crisis and risk communication, and digital media.
The presentation discussed Surin’s interest in researching crisis and risk communication in the context of mass shootings due to the rate rapidly rising, particularly between 2005 and 2014. This increase has inspired a high level of uncertainty, which he explained is “inherent in crisis and risk communication.”
Surin presented his research study in which he conducted a survey of over 600 college students to analyze how situational antecedents and uncertainty appraisals affect communication behavior. He discussed the two theories he used as a framework for the study: Uncertainty Management Theory (UMT), which defines how people assess uncertain situations (harmful or beneficial) and have emotional responses based on that assessment (anxiety or hope), and Situation Theory of Publics (STP), which states that when people face problematic situations, they are motivated to think of solutions. The results, he discussed, were that three situational variables were “significant predictors” of perceived uncertainty. The study also found that perceived uncertainty has a positive indirect effect on information seeking via anxiety and hope and anxiety and sadness, and a negative indirect effect on information avoidance via sadness. The study’s findings contributed to the advancement of both theories; UMT and STP.
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