First Advisor

Lauren B. Frank

Date of Publication

Spring 5-20-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication






Crime and the press -- United States -- Public opinion, Violent crimes -- Press coverage -- United States -- Public opinion, Mass media and public opinion, Crime in mass media -- Political aspects, Crime in mass media -- Social aspects, Crime in mass media -- Psychological aspects, Frames (Sociology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 93 pages)


This study explores the representation of crime in the news in relation to expressed emotion and intention for future action. Episodic and thematic framing (Iyengar, 1991) and narrative processing (Singer & Bluck, 2001) served as the theoretical foundations of this study and helped examine how scripted news stories involving crime influence levels of fear, anger, and empathy in individuals, and how these emotions subsequently affect behaviors. To measure these framing effects, an experimental manipulation was employed using three conceptually different news stories all involving gun-related crimes. One news story utilized an episodic format, while the other two stories used a thematic format (one positive and one negative). Emotional responses, levels of narrative engagement, policy support, perceived risk of victimization, and pro-social behavioral intentions were measured, all based on exposure to the specific type of news frame. The results of this study indicated that while types of news frames did not have a direct effect on readers' emotions, there was a significant relationship between emotions and future actions. For example, fear, anger, and empathy were significant predictors of perceived risk of victimization, policy support, and pro-social behavioral intentions, respectively. These findings contribute to the understanding of the role emotions play in predicting behavior, both within and beyond the scope of message framing.


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