Examining the impact of message frames on information seeking and processing

Holly K. Overton (School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Publication date: 6 August 2018



The purpose of this paper is to apply the situational theory of publics and framing theory in the context of environmental corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication research to determine how message frames impact information seeking and processing.


Using a 3 (message frame: diagnostic, prognostic, or motivational) × 2 (environmental issue: general vs specific) plus control between subjects experimental design, the study examines the attitudes, cognitions, and behavioral intentions different publics may form about two different environmental responsibility issues presented in this study. Furthermore, the study aims to examine how different types of message frames (diagnostic, prognostic, or motivational) and topics may impact how a company can move a public toward information seeking behaviors.


Based on theoretical considerations, structural equation modeling was used to examine significant paths between variables, thus creating a proposed new theoretical model that can be applied to CSR, public relations, and strategic communication literature.


The study offers a proposed new integrated theoretical model that can be applied to strategic communication literature and used to assist companies with enhancing their CSR communication and strategic communication planning efforts to determine how to move a public toward information seeking behaviors.



The author wishes to thank the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication for the sponsorship of this research.


Overton, H. (2018), "Examining the impact of message frames on information seeking and processing", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 327-345. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-10-2017-0114

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