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The Agriculture Angle

University of Florida Institutional Repository
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022509/00001

Material Information

Title: The Agriculture Angle Effect of Framing Agricultural Biotechnology Messages on Attitudes and Intent to Publish within the Elaboration Likelihood Model
Physical Description: 1 online resource (176 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Meyers, Courtney
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Agricultural Education and Communication -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Agricultural Education and Communication thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Our purpose was to examine the effect persuasive communication has on influencing media coverage of agricultural science, specifically agricultural biotechnology. Agricultural issues are most commonly framed as positive versus negative or risk versus benefit. Using the Elaboration Likelihood Model and framing theory, persuasive communication was achieved through the use of positively framed messages (health, economics, and scientific progress) to discover what impact the message frame had on communicators? attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish the information. Today, the media serve as the primary source of scientific information, but do not frequently address agricultural topics, including those that involve controversial science and technology applications. Public relations practitioners in science, including agricultural science, can utilize message frames to shape public opinion through media coverage. However, no empirical research has been conducted regarding the utilization of positive message frames in a persuasive communication model to discover communicators? reactions to agricultural biotechnology news messages. We examined the situation of framing within the ELM, a dual-route model of persuasion. A 2 (issue involvement: high and low) x 2 (preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology: more positive and less positive) x 3 (message frames: scientific progress, economics, and health) between-subjects factorial quasi-experimental design was used to test the research hypotheses. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive one of three message frames. The experiment focused on determining whether an individual?s issue involvement and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, when provided with a specific message frame, influenced resulting attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish agricultural biotechnology news. Members of the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) comprised the sample for the study. The final accessible sample included those with active e-mail addresses (n = 1,240) with a response rate of 24.8% (n = 308). Overall, results indicated that the interaction of message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology was not significant on attitudes toward argument quality or likelihood to publish. However, the main effects were significant for the independent variables on attitudes toward argument quality, but not likelihood to publish. Those with more favorable preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology had higher mean scores on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Similarly, those who were high in issue involvement had higher mean scores on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. The frame alone also had a significant influence on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Results indicated that the message frames do have some influence on attitudes toward argument quality with the health frame as the most influential frame on the dependent variables regardless of issue involvement or preexisting attitude. This study also introduced a potential new index to measure attitudes toward argument quality as perceived by those in the media. This index was comprised of items from newsworthiness and argument quality indexes. The theoretical contribution of this study provides additional support for connecting framing and the ELM. How persuasive messages are framed influences attitudes toward argument quality, which is related to the amount of cognitive processing undertaken and the route to persuasion used with the ELM.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Courtney Meyers.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Irani, Tracy A.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022509:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0022509/00001

Material Information

Title: The Agriculture Angle Effect of Framing Agricultural Biotechnology Messages on Attitudes and Intent to Publish within the Elaboration Likelihood Model
Physical Description: 1 online resource (176 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Meyers, Courtney
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2008

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Agricultural Education and Communication -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Agricultural Education and Communication thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Our purpose was to examine the effect persuasive communication has on influencing media coverage of agricultural science, specifically agricultural biotechnology. Agricultural issues are most commonly framed as positive versus negative or risk versus benefit. Using the Elaboration Likelihood Model and framing theory, persuasive communication was achieved through the use of positively framed messages (health, economics, and scientific progress) to discover what impact the message frame had on communicators? attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish the information. Today, the media serve as the primary source of scientific information, but do not frequently address agricultural topics, including those that involve controversial science and technology applications. Public relations practitioners in science, including agricultural science, can utilize message frames to shape public opinion through media coverage. However, no empirical research has been conducted regarding the utilization of positive message frames in a persuasive communication model to discover communicators? reactions to agricultural biotechnology news messages. We examined the situation of framing within the ELM, a dual-route model of persuasion. A 2 (issue involvement: high and low) x 2 (preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology: more positive and less positive) x 3 (message frames: scientific progress, economics, and health) between-subjects factorial quasi-experimental design was used to test the research hypotheses. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive one of three message frames. The experiment focused on determining whether an individual?s issue involvement and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, when provided with a specific message frame, influenced resulting attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish agricultural biotechnology news. Members of the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) comprised the sample for the study. The final accessible sample included those with active e-mail addresses (n = 1,240) with a response rate of 24.8% (n = 308). Overall, results indicated that the interaction of message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology was not significant on attitudes toward argument quality or likelihood to publish. However, the main effects were significant for the independent variables on attitudes toward argument quality, but not likelihood to publish. Those with more favorable preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology had higher mean scores on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Similarly, those who were high in issue involvement had higher mean scores on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. The frame alone also had a significant influence on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Results indicated that the message frames do have some influence on attitudes toward argument quality with the health frame as the most influential frame on the dependent variables regardless of issue involvement or preexisting attitude. This study also introduced a potential new index to measure attitudes toward argument quality as perceived by those in the media. This index was comprised of items from newsworthiness and argument quality indexes. The theoretical contribution of this study provides additional support for connecting framing and the ELM. How persuasive messages are framed influences attitudes toward argument quality, which is related to the amount of cognitive processing undertaken and the route to persuasion used with the ELM.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Courtney Meyers.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Local: Adviser: Irani, Tracy A.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID: UFE0022509:00001


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3d6c469a853bd250bb7dbb6e51df86ac1986934c










THE AGRICULTURE ANGLE: EFFECT OF FRAMING AGRICULTURAL
BIOTECHNOLOGY MESSAGES ON ATTITUDES AND INTENT TO PUBLISH WITHIN
THE ELABORATION LIKELIHOOD MODEL

















By

COURTNEY ALYSSA MEYERS


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2008



































2008 Courtney Alyssa Meyers


































To my husband, Daniel Meyers









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A number of people have contributed to my success in graduate school and the completion

of my doctoral degree. I want to first thank my committee members whose individual and

collective input made my dissertation research more rigorous and the entire process a worthwhile

endeavor. I thank Dr. Maria Gallo who provided a valuable biological scientist's perspective and

the content necessary for the message stimuli. I thank Dr. Debbie Treise whose expertise in

science communication greatly benefited the conceptual and theoretical framework for the study.

I thank Dr. Anna Ball who always asked thoughtful questions and challenged me to more closely

evaluate the organization of my arguments. I thank Dr. Ricky Telg for his close editing and

attention to detail, which improved my writing and the overall quality of my dissertation. Finally,

I thank my committee chair, Dr. Tracy Irani, for her support and encouragement, revision of

numerous drafts, and continual advice to improve my ability as a researcher and future faculty

member.

I have benefited from working in an extraordinary academic department that values

graduate students and provides numerous opportunities for their success. I thank Jodi DeGraw

who always had an answer to every question and was eager to help me through any situation

requiring paperwork. I thank the wonderful support staff, Holly O'Ferrell and Rachel Harris,

who make the department "run." I always enjoyed visiting with them both and I know they

sincerely care about the students in the department. Finally, to Dr. Edward Osborne, I want to

extend my sincere gratitude for both financial and personal support during my time in Florida.

The advice and insight he provided in Faculty Roles class was extremely beneficial in helping

me obtain a faculty position and my preparation to become an assistant professor. I thank him for

all he does to make the department a wonderful place to earn a graduate degree.









Although three years in graduate school can seem like a never-ending sequence of writing

papers and taking exams, it is the friends I have made that helped that time fly by and leave me

with mixed feelings as I move on. I thank all my fellow graduate students, past and present, who

made this experience so enjoyable. I especially thank Emily Rhoades for her guidance as my

mentor in the department and Shannon Arnold for her valuable advice and entertaining

conversations. I look forward to many collaborative research projects together as friends and

colleagues. I also want to thank many other fellow graduate students Wendy Warner, Elio

Chiarelli, Brian Estevez, Katy Groseta, Christy Windham, Ann DeLay, Lauri Baker, Robert

Strong, Marlene von Stein, Rochelle Strickland who made me laugh and relax despite any level

of stress. I thank Katie (Chodil) Abrams who has been my classmate, teaching partner, research

collaborator, and friend. I could always count on her to share my accomplishments or struggles.

Finally, I thank Carrie Pedreiro and her husband, Michael Pedreiro, for their most treasured

friendship. They are wonderful role models of a loving couple and dedicated parents.

I thank two people whose early influence helped me get this far. I thank Dr. Jefferson

Miller, my master's adviser at the University of Arkansas, who encouraged me to consider

working toward a Ph.D. when the thought had never crossed my mind. I also thank Mr. Bill

Johnston, my high school FFA advisor, who exposed me to the diverse possibilities available in

agriculture and helped channel my competitive spirit and drive for success.

My respect for education and love of learning was encouraged from an early age by my

parents, Gary and Sheila Wimmer. I thank them for establishing high standards and providing the

support necessary to realize my educational goals. I also thank my grandmother, Dorothy

Wimmer, who fostered an appreciation for agriculture and demonstrated what a good work ethic

truly is. I thank my dearest friend since conception, my twin sister, Gaea Wimmer, who I could









always count on to listen to my problems and share in my victories. Twins truly do share a

special bond and I am extremely grateful to have her as my sister.

The result of this effort and my doctoral education is shared with one very special person

in my life, my husband Daniel Meyers. I could have never completed this degree without his

constant encouragement and understanding. I thank him for taking care of chores and other

responsibilities so I could concentrate on schoolwork or attend research conferences. He and our

sweet dog Dash have been a source of great joy during any obstacles I faced. As we start the

greatest adventure in our lives as parents to Isabel, I know he will continue to be my best friend

and love of my life.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A CK N O W LED G M EN T S ................................................................. ........... ............. .....

L IST O F T A B L E S ...............................10........... ................

LIST OF FIGURES .................................. .. .... ..... ................. 13

L IST O F D E F IN IT IO N S .............................................................................. ...........................14

A B S T R A C T ......... ....................... ............................................................ 15

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ......................................................... ................. .. ........ 18

Science and the Public ................................................... ............... .... ...... 20
Science and M edia ................................................ ... ...............................22
Application: Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP) Program and
A agricultural Biotechnology ................................................................. ............... 27
Elaboration Likelihood M odel .................................................................. ............... 30
F ram ing ................. .......... ......... ......... ..................................... 3 1
P rob lem Statem en t ...................... .. ............. .. .....................................................3 3

2 R ELE V A N T L ITER A TU R E ......................................................................... ...................35

A attitudes and P ersuasion ......... ...................................................................... ........ .. .... 35
E elaboration Likelihood M odel ...................... .. .. ......... ............................ ............... 38
Issue Involvem ent and Personal Relevance ........................................ .....................39
A rgum ent Q quality ............. ................. .................. ...... ..... ...... ... 41
Need for Cognition ............. .... ..................... .. ............... ........... 44
Fram ing ................................................................... .............. ..................... 44
F ram ing B biotechnology ...................... .............. ......................... ....... .... ............. 48
Fram ing and the Elaboration Likelihood M odel ........................................ .....................50
A agenda Setting and Prim ing....................................................................... ............... 52
P public R relations and F ram ing ........................................................................ ...................53
Sum m ary .......................................................................................... 54

3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS................................................... ................... 55

O v erv iew ............... ........... .. ............. .. ....55..........
R research Q questions and H ypotheses ........................................................... .....................56
R e se a rc h D e sig n ............................................................................................................... 5 7
Subjects ............................................................................................ 60
M message Stim uli ................................................. 61
M essag e Stim u li T estin g ................................................................................................... 6 3


7










Independent Variables .................................... ... ... ........... .......... .... 64
M message F ram e ...............................65.............................
Issu e Inv olv em ent...................... ................................ .......... .......... ............. .. 65
Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology ...................................... ............... 66
Dependent Variables............. ...... ......... ... .... ............ ...................67
Argument Quality ...... .......... ..... ........................ ................. ....67
Likelihood to Publish .......................................... ............. .... ....... 68
A tribute V ariables .............................................. 68
Instrum entation ......... ..................................... ...........................69
In stru m en t P ilot T est ................................................................................................. 6 9
Instrument Content ................ ......... .................... 72
P ro c e d u re .............. .... ...............................................................7 3
D ata A analyses ................ ......... ............................................74

4 RESULTS ............. ...................................................... 76

O v e rv ie w .............. .. ............... ........................................................................7 6
D e scrip tiv e A n aly sis ......................................................................................................... 7 6
P o te n tia l E rro r ........................................................................................................... 7 7
D e m o g ra p h ic s ............................................................................................................ 8 1
Issue Involvem ent............................ ....................... .................... 85
Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology ............... ............85
Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements ....................... ............86
Attitudes Toward Message Topic.............................. ...............86
L likelihood to P publish ...............................................................87
Need for Cognition ......... _. ........ ..... ........ ..... ....... ........ .................88
T h e E L M S cales ...........................................................................89
Issue Involvem ent Scale ........... ................................. ........ ........ .......... .... 89
Attitudes Toward Argument Quality ...................................................................................90
N eed for C ignition Scale .............. ............................................................9 1
Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology ................ ........ ........92
Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements .......................... ........93
Attitudes Toward Message Topic.............................. ...............94
Likelihood to Publish .................................. .................................... 95
M manipulation C hecks ................................................................................... ...............96
T e sts o f H y p o th e se s ....................................................... ................................................ 9 9
P o st H o c A n aly ses .................. .................................................................... 10 6
M message Fram e Identification .............................................. ............... 106
A attitudes and M message Fram e ...................................................................... 107
N eed for C ignition ........ ..... ......................... .. .............. 108
Differences Between Organization Membership ............................. .......................109
Index D evelopm ent ..........................................................................................114

5 DISCUSSION ............................... ....... ............... 121

Overview ................. ............... ... .........................................121
K ey F in d in g s ............................................................................................................. 12 2


8









Im p lic a tio n s ..................................................................................................................... 1 2 6
L im itatio n s ................... ...................1...................3.........0
Recommendations.......................................... ............................133
Recommendations for Theory and Future Research ............................................... 133
Recom m endations for Practitioners ........................................ .......................... 135
C onclu sions..... .........................................................137

APPENDIX

A PRE-N OTICE LETTER .................................................................................. 138

B E -M A IL C O N T A C T S ............................................................................... ......................140

C IN STR U M EN T ............................................ ............ ..................... ........ .. 143

D M E SSA G E V E R SIO N S ......................................................................... ......................... 159

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S .............................................................................. ..........................163

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ............................................................................... ............... ... 175


































9









LIST OF TABLES


Table page

4-1. Characteristics of Early and Late Survey Respondents............................................ 79

4-2. Independent Samples T-Test to Compare Age of Early and Late Survey Respondents ........80

4-3. Independent Samples T-Test for Significant Differences Between Early and Late
R e sp o n d en ts ........................................................................... .. 8 1

4-4. Characteristics of Survey Respondents ............................................................................ 83

4-5. Agreement with Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements................... ...............87

4-6. Descriptive Statistics for Likelihood to Publish........ ....... ..... ................ .. ............. 88

4-7. Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) Scale Inter-item Consistency
S ta tistic s ............................................................................... 9 0

4-8. Perceived Argument Quality Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics..............................91

4-9. Need for Cognition Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics ...............................................91

4-10. Preexisting Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology Scale Inter-item Consistency
S ta tistic s ............................................................................... 9 3

4-11. Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics......93

4-12. Attitudes toward Message Topic Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics .........................95

4-13. Likelihood to Publish Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics.........................................95

4-14. Classification of Message Frame by Assigned Frame........................................................97

4-15. ANOVA for Subjects' Perceptions of Message Frames ............................................... 98

4-16. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Attitudes toward Agricultural
Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality ............................ ....................99

4-17. Means for Attitudes Toward Argument Quality Split by High/Low Issue Involvement,
More Positive/ Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology, and
M essag e F ram e ........................................................................ 10 0

4-18. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Attitudes Toward Agricultural
Biotechnology on Likelihood to Publish .............................................. ............... 101

4-19. Means for Likelihood to Publish Split by High/Low Issue Involvement, More Positive/
Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology, and Message Frame........101









4-20. ANOVA for Message Frame and Issue Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality.....102

4-21. ANOVA for Message Frame and Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on
P erceived A rgum ent Q quality ........................................... ........................................... 103

4-22. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between High/Low Issue
Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality for Subjects Who Received Scientific
P rog ress M message F ram e ................................................................................ ......... ..... 104

4-23. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between High/Low Issue
Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality for Subjects Who Received Health
M essag e F ram e ........................................................................ 104

4-24. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Perceived Argument
Q u ality .......... .............................. ................................................ 10 5

4-25. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Likelihood to Publish......105

4-26. ANOVA for Subject-Identified Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Preexisting
Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality ............106

4-27. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between More Positive/Less
Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument
Quality Spilt by Message Frame..................... ............................ 107

4-28. Independent Samples T-Test for Significant Differences Between Preexisting
Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology Groups and Attitudes Toward
M message T opic ............................................................................108

4-29. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Perceived Argument
Quality, Including Need for Cognition ............. .................... ........... ............... 108

4-30. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, Preexisting Attitudes Toward
Agricultural Biotechnology, and Need for Cognition on Perceived Argument Quality..109

4-31. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization
M membership and Issue Involvem ent ....................................................................... 110

4-32. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization
Membership and Preexisting Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology ................111

4-33. Percentage of Assigned Frame Split within Membership Organization ...........................111

4-34. Classification of Message Frame within Membership Organization ..............................12

4-35. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization
Membership and Attitudes Toward Argument Quality ............................................. 113









4-36. Independent Samples T-tests for Significant Differences Between Organization
Membership and Attitudes Toward Argument Quality of Message Frames .................13

4-37. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization
M membership and Likelihood to Publish................... .... ..... ................. 114

4-38. Independent Samples T-tests for Significant Differences Between Organization
Membership and Likelihood to Publish for Each Message Frame..............................114

4-39. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Issue Involvement...............................................115

4-40. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Cognitive Issue Involvement .............................116

4-41. Cognitive Issue Involvement Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics ............................116

4-42. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Affective Issue Involvement ............... ...............117

4-43. Affective Issue Involvement Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics .............................117

4-44. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Perceived Argument Quality .............................118

4-45. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Newsworthiness Index ................ ................119

4-46. Newsworthiness Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics.............................119

4-47. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Seven-Item Argument Quality Index.....................119

4-48. Seven-Item Argument Quality Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics.............................120









LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

2-1. The Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion .............................................................39

3-1. Operational framework for the current study. ............................................. ............... 57









LIST OF DEFINITIONS


Agricultural Biotechnology Agricultural biotechnology is a range of tools, including traditional
breeding techniques, that alter living organisms, or parts of organisms, to
make or modify products; improve plants or animals; or develop
microorganisms for specific agricultural uses (USDA, 2005, para. 1).

Attitude A psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular
entity with some degree of favor or disfavor (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993, p.


Elaboration


Framing


Issue Involvement


Need for Cognition


Newsworthiness



Persuasion


Degree to which an individual cognitively processes issue-relevant arguments
within a persuasive communication (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986).

To select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient
in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem
definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment
recommendation for the item described (Entman, 1993, p. 52).

The amount of importance recipients give to a persuasive message (Petty
& Cacioppo, 1979).

An individual's tendency to engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive
endeavors" (Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1984, p. 306).

An indication of an event's likelihood to be included in news coverage
based on news values such as proximity, impact, timeliness, and conflict
(Clayman & Reisner, 1998).

Any instance in which an active attempt is made to change a person's
mind (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996, p. 4).


Science Communication The communication of scientific topics, concepts, or research
findings using journalistic practices through mass media, public relations,
or informal education such as museums.


Science Reporting


The communication of science-related topics following the conventions of
journalist practice.


Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP) Program A multi-dimensional
university-based program that assists University of Florida faculty in
executing the societal broader impacts of their research, engages students
in the sciences, and educates the public at large regarding scientific
knowledge and cutting edge technologies (STEP, 2007a, para. 1).









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE AGRICULTURE ANGLE: EFFECT OF FRAMING AGRICULTURAL
BIOTECHNOLOGY MESSAGES ON ATTITUDES AND INTENT TO PUBLISH WITHIN
THE ELABORATION LIKELIHOOD MODEL

By

Courtney Alyssa Meyers

August 2008

Chair: Tracy Irani
Major: Agricultural Education and Communication

Our purpose was to examine the effect persuasive communication has on influencing

media coverage of agricultural science, specifically agricultural biotechnology. Agricultural

issues are most commonly framed as positive versus negative or risk versus benefit. Using the

Elaboration Likelihood Model and framing theory, persuasive communication was achieved

through the use of positively framed messages (health, economics, and scientific progress) to

discover what impact the message frame had on communicators' attitudes toward argument

quality and likelihood to publish the information. Today, the media serve as the primary source

of scientific information, but do not frequently address agricultural topics, including those that

involve controversial science and technology applications. Public relations practitioners in

science, including agricultural science, can utilize message frames to shape public opinion

through media coverage. However, no empirical research has been conducted regarding the

utilization of positive message frames in a persuasive communication model to discover

communicators' reactions to agricultural biotechnology news messages.

We examined the situation of framing within the ELM, a dual-route model of persuasion.

A 2 (issue involvement: high and low) x 2 preexistingg attitude toward agricultural









biotechnology: more positive and less positive) x 3 (message frames: scientific progress,

economics, and health) between-subjects factorial quasi-experimental design was used to test the

research hypotheses. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive one of three message frames.

The experiment focused on determining whether an individual's issue involvement and attitudes

toward agricultural biotechnology, when provided with a specific message frame, influenced

resulting attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish agricultural biotechnology

news.

Members of the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) and the National

Association of Science Writers (NASW) comprised the sample for the study. The final accessible

sample included those with active e-mail addresses (n = 1,240) with a response rate of 24.8% (n

=308).

Overall, results indicated that the interaction of message frame, issue involvement, and

preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology was not significant on attitudes toward

argument quality or likelihood to publish. However, the main effects were significant for the

independent variables on attitudes toward argument quality, but not likelihood to publish. Those

with more favorable preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology had higher mean

scores on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Similarly, those who were high in issue

involvement had higher mean scores on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. The frame

alone also had a significant influence on attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Results

indicated that the message frames do have some influence on attitudes toward argument quality

with the health frame as the most influential frame on the dependent variables regardless of issue

involvement or preexisting attitude. This study also introduced a potential new index to measure









attitudes toward argument quality as perceived by those in the media. This index was comprised

of items from newsworthiness and argument quality indexes.

The theoretical contribution of this study provides additional support for connecting

framing and the ELM. How persuasive messages are framed influences attitudes toward

argument quality, which is related to the amount of cognitive processing undertaken and the

route to persuasion used with the ELM.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

The systematic acquisition of food, clothing, and shelter was the earliest form of collective
human activity and gave birth to civilization. Industry, art, and science are all products of a
civilization founded on and supported by agriculture. Thus, agriculture, directly or
indirectly, touches all aspects of human activity (National Agricultural Library, 2002).

American agriculture has a celebrated past with achievements in the distribution of public

lands, founding of land-grant colleges, application of science, and federal policy support (Hurt,

2002). According to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture, the United States has more than

two million farms occupying almost one billion acres, and the annual market value for

agricultural products exceeds $200 billion (United States Department of Agriculture, 2002). In

2000, the agriculture industry provided 25.8 million jobs, which is approximately 15.6% of the

total U.S. employment. These jobs include farm production employment, agricultural services,

forestry, fishing, equipment manufacturing, and agricultural processing (W.K. Kellogg

Foundation, n.d.).

Although agriculture has a significant impact on the U.S. economy and job market, the

amount of people directly involved in production agriculture has dropped to less than 1% of the

U.S. population (Hurt, 2002). This has led to a U.S. public that has limited understanding as to

what agriculture is, what agriculture does, or the future challenges facing the industry. "The

significance of changing this view of agriculture, whether it be a perceptual or a realistic one, is

critical to U.S. agriculture's structure, function, and success in the coming years" (National

Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board [NAREEE], 1997,

p. 7).

Specific goals to improve the public's understanding and appreciation of agriculture

include increasing scientific literacy among consumers and policy makers, improving confidence

in the U.S. food production system, and establishing public understanding and support of









agricultural research and education (NAREEE, 1997). These goals are still in effect today as the

public's agricultural literacy, knowledge or understanding of agricultural concepts (Frick,

Birkenholz, & Machtmes, 1995), remains low. For example, in 2002 less than 10% of the Florida

public understood agriculture's impact on the state economy or the importance of agriculture in

general (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 2002).

Historically, American agriculture has gone through a series of revolutions. The first was

the integration of horse-powered equipment; the second revolution involved increased use of

mechanical power and chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. The third revolution in

American agriculture at the end of the 20th century was marked by the increased application of

science (Hurt, 2002). Agriculture utilizes scientific advances in the life, environmental, and

social sciences to advance and improve production practices; to develop new products; to

improve nutritional content; to provide environmental benefits; and to enhance biosecurity and

food safety (National Research Council, 2003). Advances in science and technology have helped

American agriculture become successful through improved production practices and consumer

benefits, such as food with a longer shelf life, new flavors, more convenience, and better

nutrition (USDA ARS, 2005). Continued research in agriculture strives to discover scientific

answers to further advance the industry and meet future needs (Buchanan, 2007). "Science has

served as a vitally important foundation for our agricultural system and its ability to provide this

nation and the world with its needs for food, fiber, and feed of our livestock" (Buchanan, 2007,

p. 1).

As mentioned, the third revolution in American agriculture is characterized by the

utilization of innovations in science, specifically in genomics and biotechnology (Hurt, 2002).

"A new word, biotechnology, reflected the merging of agricultural sciences with engineering and









the promise of improved production" (Hurt, 2002, p. 383).The U.S. Department of Agriculture

defines agricultural biotechnology as "a range of tools, including traditional breeding techniques,

that alter living organisms, or parts of organisms, to make or modify products; improve plants or

animals; or develop microorganisms for specific agricultural uses," (USDA, 2007, para. 1).

Biotechnology also encompasses the tools of genetic engineering or genetic modification

(USDA, 2007). As a subset of research in genetics, biotechnology has intrigued both the media

and public beginning in the 1970s (Nelkin & Lindee, 1995). Organizations such as the National

Academy of Science (NAS) have encouraged the development of a "genetically literate public

that understands basic biological research, understands elements of the personal and health

implications of genetics, and participates effectively in public policy issues involving genetic

information" (Andrews, Fullarton, Holtzman, & Motulsky, 1994, p. 185).

Science and the Public

At a time when the challenges facing humanity are growing rapidly, and when meeting
those challenges increasingly depends on scientific research, the need for public support
and understanding of science has never been greater. (Holsinger, 2006, p. 955)

An interest and appreciation for science is ingrained in American culture (Miller, 2000).

Most American adults (90%) report being very or moderately interested in scientific and

technological discoveries (National Science Foundation [NSF], 2006b). However, the attention

given to science and technology has not promoted public understanding of the basic concepts

that make these innovations possible. Although the percentage of scientifically literate U.S.

adults has doubled in the past 20 years, it is low considering the democratic principle of citizen

understanding and involvement in policy decisions. By the end of the 20th century, only 17% of

U.S. adults were classified as scientifically literate (Miller, 2000). Scientific literacy is related to

the public's ability to understand scientific concepts, including those related to agricultural

science endeavors. The appropriate level of understanding to be considered scientifically literate









is the ability to "read and comprehend the Tuesday science section of The New York Tilme,

(Miller, 2000, p. 274).

Hacker and Harris (1992) stated that an individual's formal education in science occurs

early in life and "cannot equip the individual for a scientifically literate lifetime in an

increasingly technological society" (p. 217). Although science is an emphasized subject in

formal education, most Americans continue to struggle to comprehend the foundational concepts

of science necessary to interpret current research findings (Miller, 2000). Consequently, the

American public is largely illiterate about science (Gregory & Miller, 1998).

Beyond politics, science has an influence on economic and social issues (Nelkin, 1995).

Diamond (1997) posited that everyone needs to understand science to help make personal

choices regarding health and safety, to guide policy-decisions, to be informed voters, and to

support science's impact on the economy, education system, and society. After the completion of

formal education, the majority of people have little exposure to science except through media

reports. As Nelkin (1995) explained:

For most people, the reality of science is what they read in the press. They understand
science less through direct experience or past education than through the filter of
journalistic language and imagery. The media are their only contact with what is going on
in rapidly changing scientific and technical fields, as well as a major source of information
about the implications of these changes for their lives. (p. 2)

The science information presented in the media is different from what is taught in

educational settings. In formal education, people learn "textbook science" that is classified as

uncontroversial or established. The media, however, report on "frontier science" that is often

uncertain or preliminary (Bauer, 1994). Within agricultural science, an example of "frontier

science" includes the application of biotechnology for the recent and future development of

"functional" foods that provide nutritional attributes (National Research Council, 2003).









Beginning in the 1980s, interest in defining and discovering the public's understanding of

science has initiated a vast number of research endeavors (Bauer, Allum, & Miller, 2007).

Defining "public understanding of science" is difficult and often depends on the study's author

or authors. In order to operationally define the term, it is often broken into three distinct pieces:

public, understanding, and science. "Public" includes almost anyone who might receive

information concerning scientific topics, but is most often used to describe a "lay public" of

those not directly involved in scientific research. "Understanding" includes both knowledge and

appreciation of scientific topics. "Science" is defined as scientific knowledge produced by those

recognized as members of the scientific community (Thomas & Durant, 1987). Although

defining the public understanding of science is difficult, many people agree that more emphasis

on it would be beneficial (Gregory & Miller, 1998). Thomas and Durant (1987) outlined nine

benefits that should serve as motivation for improved public understanding of science: (1)

benefits to science; (2) benefits to national economies; (3) benefits to national power and

influence; (4) benefits to individuals; (5) benefits to democratic government; (6) benefits to

society as a whole; (7) intellectual benefits; (8) aesthetic benefits; and (9) moral benefits. The

diversity of these benefits illustrate that although many people agree on the need for public

understanding of science, the underlying motivations, outlooks, and purposes are varied and

distinct.

Science and Media

The mass media serve as the primary source of current scientific information for American

adults (Friedman, Dunwoody, & Rogers, 1986; LaFollette, 1990; Nelkin, 1995). Other sources of

scientific information such as science classes, science museums, and interpersonal

communication exist, but the mass media provide the public with the most access to science-

related information (Nisbet et al., 2002). The media are often the only source the public has to









learn about scientific discoveries, events, and controversies. If readers have limited experience or

prior knowledge with a scientific topic, they rely on the media to provide an explanation as to

what effect scientific findings have on their lives (Nelkin, 1995). Due to the large amount of

scientific information available, the public relies on the media, to some degree, to keep them

informed of recent advances in scientific pursuits (Zimmerman, Bisanz, Bisanz, Klein, & Klein,

2001).

The most common channels for science information are electronic. The National Science

Foundation (2006b) reported television is the most utilized source for science information (41%),

followed by other media channels including newspapers (14%), magazines (14%), and radio

(2%). The Internet (18%) was the second highest source of science information, which may or

may not include online media sources. Additional sources were friends and family (4%), books

(5%), and other (2%) (NSF, 2006). Nisbet et al. (2002) concluded that science-specific television

programming can positively influence public understanding of science, but the amount of

sensational and fictionalized accounts of science (i.e. science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal

mystery shows) overwhelm solely educational efforts. Therefore, when education is the primary

goal of public outreach of science, the preferred media channel should be print, specifically

newspapers and magazines (Nisbet et al., 2002).

A number of internal and external factors influence what is covered in the mass media.

Within media organizations, the responsibility of reporting science lies with journalists, who face

many challenges when covering scientific topics including news-gathering norms, editorial

pressures, uncooperative scientists, and a diverse audience (Treise & Weigold, 2002). External

factors include sources, interest groups, public relations campaigns, other media organizations,

advertisers, and audiences (Shoemaker & Reese, 1996). When reporting news events, including









science, the media are actively deciding what stories to cover and this process, along with what

interpretation the media provide, can influence the public's agenda (Priest, 2001). Science stories

are more likely to be covered by the media if they meet certain newsworthy characteristics called

news values. In reference to science stories, these news values include threshold or magnitude;

meaningfulness, relevance, and consonance to the audience; co-option and composition in terms

of what has been published and available space or time; frequency, unexpectedness, and

continuity of news items; competition of stories; unambiguity and negativity of information;

reliability of facts and sources; and elitism and personalization (Gregory & Miller, 1998).

The scientific process is often ambiguous, complex, and controversial, and these factors

lead to ever-present scientific uncertainty, which is created through a limited amount of scientific

knowledge or a disagreement about what that knowledge means. Scientific stories that contain

some amount of uncertainty are considered newsworthy because of the inherent conflict and

controversy. How journalists write about and describe stories containing scientific uncertainty

can affect how the audience interprets that information (Friedman, Dunwoody, & Rogers, 1999).

Hartz and Chappell (1997) contend that media inattention to complex scientific topics has

encouraged a public that is unsupportive of science and technology.

Rogers (1999) identified two characteristics of science reporting that inhibit the audience's

ability to understand the scientific topic: lack of information and lack of context. Audience

members need basic information to understand the content of a science story. Without this

foundation, readers must make assumptions, which may or may not be correct. In regard to the

context, audience members want to know how the latest information fits into the larger body of

research, what came before, and what is next. The structure and framing of a science news story

can also influence how well the audience is able to understand the issue being presented. When









writing about science, journalists should make the stories informative, useful, and

understandable, which can be difficult when reporting on controversial or new scientific issues

(Rogers, 1999). Journalists' inability to adequately report on science by explaining the context

and process of research contributes to the separation between science and public understanding

(Nelkin, 1995). The ability of journalists to report on science has implications for the audience:

Good reporting can enhance the public's ability to evaluate science policy issues and the
individual's ability to make rational personal choices; poor reporting can mislead and
disempower a public that is increasingly affected by science and technology and by
decisions determined by technical expertise. (Nelkin, 1995, p. 2)

Agricultural science covers a variety of disciplines and involves a number of stakeholders

including scientists, producers, conservationists, and consumers (National Research Council,

2003). Lundy, Ruth, Telg, and Irani (2006) found that agricultural scientists did not believe the

public understands either agriculture or its parent sciences. Agricultural scientists also reported a

lack of confidence in the public's ability to get necessary information through the news media to

understand agriculture or science in general (Lundy et al., 2006).

Despite its significant contribution to America's economic, cultural, and environmental

progress, agriculture is often overlooked as a newsworthy topic by the mass media (Stringer &

Thomson, 1999). Although no empirical literature could be found regarding dominant agriculture

issues in news media, recent coverage of agriculture in U.S. news media focused on topics such

as food safety (Schmit, 2008; Shin, 2008), biofuels and rising food prices (Martin, 2008; Sands,

2008), organic food (Rosenwald, 2008; Martin & Severson, 2008), and the U.S. farm bill

(Lengell, 2008; Weisman & Morgan, 2008).

Lichter, Amundson, and Lichter (2005) analyzed content from 10 news outlets (print and

television) during a six-month period in 2004 to discover how rural life is portrayed. Although

the overall number of articles containing "rural" increased 57% from 2002 to 2004, the amount









of farm-related coverage decreased 50%. Agriculture and rural life were rarely associated, with

farming mentioned in only 3% of the media coverage (Lichter et al., 2005). Agricultural news

coverage may not always be classified as science stories because agriculture, like health

communication, involves the use of several news angles, including human interest or business.

However, as previously mentioned, agricultural news coverage can include the use of a science

news angle.

Journalists who do not regularly report on agricultural news do not provide an accurate

description of the industry (Reisner & Walter, 1994). Print stories in general newspapers tend to

be superficial and stereotyped. These media sources do not provide in-depth or long-term

coverage of agricultural science issues or events. Reisner and Walter (1994) found that general

newspapers and farm magazines do not provide consistent or complete coverage of agricultural

issues or events that would "increase public understanding of issues facing farmers or farmer

understanding of public concerns about agriculture's environmental and social effects" (p. 535).

Biotechnology is one area of agricultural science that has received a great deal of media

coverage, and the media play an important role in shaping public perceptions of this topic

(Kalaitzandonakes, Marks, & Vickner, 2004). A recent International Food Information Council

study found that although about 75% of consumers have heard or read at least "a little" about

food biotechnology, they remain unaware of the prevalence of these types of foods currently in

the market (IFIC, 2007). Only 23% of consumers said these products are currently available.

Consumer approval for plant biotechnology is greater than that for animal biotechnology,

although approval for animal cloning did increase from 19% in 2006 to 24% in 2007. Most

consumers (54%) are unsure about the potential of food biotechnology, while one-third said

biotech foods will provide some benefits to them and their families. These benefits include better









tasting food, reducing saturated fat content, and increasing healthful fats (IFIC, 2007). The Pew

Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (2006) noted that media coverage of agricultural

biotechnology has an influence on the public's attention to the issue. After the StarLinkTM corn

recall in 2001, media coverage about agricultural biotechnology was significant and public

awareness was at its highest level. In 2001, 45% of American consumers said they had heard "a

great deal" (9%) or "some" (35%) about genetically modified foods, which are developed using

the tools of agricultural biotechnology. As media coverage dedicated to genetically modified

foods coverage decreased, so too did the public's awareness of the issue. In 2006, 41% of

American consumers indicated either hearing "a great deal" or "some" about the topic.

The amount and tone of media coverage has an influence on consumer opinions regarding

agricultural biotechnology (Hoban, 1998). In European countries where media coverage has

focused less on the benefits and more on the potential risks of this area of agricultural science,

survey respondents are generally more negative in their opinions toward agricultural

biotechnology (Hoban, 1998). Past research has indicated that U.S. media are generally more

positive in their coverage of agricultural biotechnology (Gaskell, Bauer, Durant, & Allum,

1999), but the public perceptions of the quality of newspaper and television coverage of the topic

are less supportive with only 44% of respondents indicating the media were "doing a good job

for society" (Priest, 2001, p. 940).

Application: Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP) Program and
Agricultural Biotechnology

United States academic institutions significantly contribute to the scientific research and

development conducted nationwide. In 2004, academia dedicated $42 billion to research and

development efforts. The contribution is especially important in the basic sciences of which

academia conducts more than half (NSF, 2006a). Academic institutions are also charged with the









mission of providing the results of that research to the public. This is most often conducted

through outreach and education programs that help scientists listen to concerns and proactively

strive to provide the public with information regarding scientific issues (Leshner, 2007).

To meet the research and development priorities, academic institutions rely on both public

and private funding agencies. In 2003, the government funded 60% of the research at academic

institutions, and 96% of these funds are from six federal agencies. Beginning in 2001, the NSF,

one of the leading funders of academic research, requires grant applicants to demonstrate how

they will incorporate broader societal impacts into their research proposal. According to the NSF

(2006a), broader impacts include "aspects of teaching and learning, integration of research and

education, technology transfer, societal benefits, technological innovation, infrastructure

development, and opportunities to include a diversity of participants, particularly from

underrepresented groups in science" (p. 17).

Scientists often struggle to develop and include outreach strategies in their grant proposals

that can meet the broader impacts criterion of the merit review system (Frodeman & Holbrook,

2007). One reason for this hesitancy may be that scientists are traditionally not trained in how to

communicate to or educate the public. Although scientists may want to discuss their work with

the public, they are pressured to dedicate their time and energy to conducting more research,

securing grants, and publishing in scholarly journals. Leshner (2007) said more should be done

to encourage public engagement and outreach training for scientists:

If science is going to fully serve its societal mission in the future, we need to both
encourage and equip the next generation of scientists to effectively engage with the
broader society in which we work and live (p. 161).

To help address this issue and provide support to scientists when seeking grants with the

requirement of broader societal impacts, several researchers at the University of Florida

(Gainesville, FL) developed the Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP)









Program. STEP works with researchers to write grants and develop strategies to provide research

findings to the broader public. In 2007, STEP launched ufgenetics.com, an interactive website

that highlights research of faculty associated with the University of Florida's Genetics Institute.

The site includes information for the target audiences of teachers and journalists. The teachers'

page has feature videos and lesson plans. The journalists' page includes feature videos, print

news stories, and photographs in what can best be described as an online newsroom (STEP,

2007b).

When journalists or reporters need to identify story ideas, conduct article research, or

locate press releases, they are increasingly relying on the World Wide Web and e-mail ("No

One's Yelling 'Copy' Anymore," 2001). The Web has exposed journalists to more story ideas

and has created job opportunities that are more directly involved with communication efforts,

which "represents a change in the news-making route of science journalism as well as in the

dissemination of this content" (Trumbo, Sprecker, Dumlao, Yun, & Duke, 2001, p. 361).

Science public relations practitioners are also utilizing the Web and e-mail to reach the

media. Professionals in this career field are "enthusiastic about the Web as a tool that helps

persuade journalists to cover their organizations" (Duke, 2002, p. 321). Duke (2002) conducted a

study of science public relations practitioners and found almost all respondents said e-mail is

essential (66%) or sometimes useful (29%) in media relations. Almost half (47%) of those

surveyed routinely or always use e-mail to send press releases to journalists. A majority of

practitioners (66%) reported that e-mail has helped increase media coverage of their organization

to some degree, and 20% said it has greatly increased coverage (Duke, 2002). Having a Web

presence also contributes to increased media coverage. Two-thirds (76%) of respondents said

they post press releases on the Web, and 66% said it is easier to receive media coverage with the









use of the Web. Public relations practitioners in science communication utilize the Web for a

number of purposes beyond media relations, including tracking issues, crisis communication,

rumor control, and education and outreach (Duke, 2002).

Online newsrooms are a critical element organizations need in order to interact with the

media (Woodall, 2007). In the 2007 Online Newsroom Survey, all journalists surveyed said it

was important for an organization to have an online newsroom, and 98% of the respondents

prefer to receive e-mail alerts generated through these newsrooms. Interest in specific online

newsroom features, such as photographs, audio, and video, increased when compared to previous

years (Woodall, 2007). Additional research is needed to discover journalists' perceptions of the

information provided by an organization through an online newsroom format (specifically online

news releases) that may persuade them to utilize that information in communication efforts.

Elaboration Likelihood Model

Within the context of the current study, the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) provides

a framework to examine the individual variables (need for cognition and issue involvement) and

situational variables (argument quality and message frame) that may influence the persuasion

process through either the central or peripheral route (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The central route

to persuasion is based on careful attention to the issue-relevant arguments within a message, and

attitudes are formed based on evaluation of these arguments. The peripheral route to persuasion

is based less on consideration of the arguments and more on the peripheral cues such as source

credibility and graphic elements (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).

An individual's motivation and ability influence the elaboration likelihood, or the degree to

which a person cognitively assesses issue-relevant messages within persuasive communication.

Individuals who are highly motivated and have the ability to cognitively process the issue-

relevant messages utilize the central route to persuasion. When individuals lack either the









motivation and/or ability to evaluate the issue-relevant arguments, they are persuaded via the

peripheral route (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).

The ELM contains several constructs that influence which route to persuasion an

individual is more likely to utilize. One construct is issue involvement, which addresses the

amount of importance recipients give to the issue-relevant arguments in a persuasive message.

Individuals who are more involved will be more likely to be persuaded through the central route

than those who are less involved in the issue (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979). Another construct is the

need for cognition, which is a personality trait that influences how much an individual evaluates

a persuasive message (Petty, Cacioppo, & Strathman, 2005). The higher an individual's need for

cognition, the more likely they will pay attention to the issue-relevant messages and utilize the

central route to persuasion (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982).

Argument quality is another construct that may influence the resulting attitude of a

persuasive message. If an individual is motivated and able to use the central route to persuasion,

arguments that are seen as strong and compelling will result in more favorable thoughts than

those that are interpreted as weak. In contrast, when the peripheral route is utilized, an individual

is more likely to depend on preexisting thoughts to form an attitude than issue-relevant

arguments (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). With any given message topic, research is necessary to

explore what elements of a persuasive message could influence argument quality and the

resulting persuasion process. Through the use of communication theories such as framing,

messages could then be developed to purposively draw upon those message elements.

Framing

Framing is a communication strategy used to organize and make sense of information

(Goffman, 1974). Framing occurs in a variety of communication contexts, including media

representations of information (Scheufele, 1999). Entman (1993) explained that framing helps









organize information by drawing attention to important elements, emphasizing key pieces of

information, and ignoring superfluous details. In the media, frames can appear through the

inclusion or exclusion of key words and the selection of sources (Entman, 1993). In regard to

science information, individuals do not actively think about scientific matters or know how to

interpret scientific information; therefore, the media can influence public opinion of science and

technology by legitimizing an issue or framing it in a way that will influence resulting public

opinion (Priest & Eyck, 2003). Examination of news frames, and any corresponding event that

encourages them, offers an opportunity to explore the media's influence on public opinion

(Marks et al., 2007).

Several studies have examined media coverage of agricultural biotechnology to discover

prominent frames. Upon review of the literature, two frames in particular seemed to appear

frequently in studies that included media coverage in a variety of leading newspapers in the

United States and abroad "economic costs/economic progress/economic" and "scientific

progress/progress" (Gaskell et al., 1999; Nisbet & Lewenstein, 2002; Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003;

Lundy & Irani, 2004). Crawley (2007) noted that media coverage of agricultural biotechnology

has been prominently framed as "scientific progress" and "economic prosperity." Additionally,

the frame of "health" or "health benefits" was noted in several framing analysis studies of media

coverage regarding agricultural biotechnology (Gaskell et al. 1999; Kohring & Matthes, 2002;

Marks, Kalaitzandonakes, Wilkins, & Zakharova, 2007).

Framing has long been used to research how the media portray any number of issues.

However, less research has been conducted on how public relations practitioners can utilize

various frames to shape the discourse on a topic or issue. Lundy (2004) conducted an

examination of positively framing internal communication messages within the ELM. Results









indicated that positive frames had some influence on attitudes toward internationalizing

extension, but more research is necessary to explore the persuasive influence of frames within

the ELM (Lundy, 2004).

Public relations practitioners exist in both public and private scientific institutions

(including agricultural organizations and institutions) to provide information to the media and

encourage coverage of scientific endeavors (Nelkin, 1995). Public relations practitioners can

utilize framing when writing news releases and can help influence how chosen topics are

portrayed in the media (Knight, 1999). Journalists should be considered as an audience for

messages that contain frames because they "are equally susceptible to the very frames that they

use to describe events and issues" (Scheufele, 1999, p. 117). More research is needed to

investigate if j journalists' frames of an event or issue are a result of how sources have framed the

information, or if they rely on other news sources' framing of the issue (Scheufele, 1999).

Problem Statement

Agricultural science encompasses a variety of scientific disciplines that conduct research

for a number of stakeholder groups. Although the public relies on agriculture for food, feed and

fiber, public understanding of science and its application in agricultural research pursuits is quite

limited. The media serve as the primary source of modern scientific information, but do not give

much attention to agricultural topics, including those that involve controversial science and

technology applications. One such area of agricultural science that has received media attention

is agricultural biotechnology, due to the inherent uncertainty surrounding new applications of

this science.

Public relations practitioners in science, including agricultural science, can utilize message

frames to shape public opinion through media coverage. However, no empirical research has

been conducted regarding the utilization of positive message frames in a persuasive









communication model to discover communicators' reactions to agricultural biotechnology news

messages. The purpose of this study was to examine what effect persuasive communication has

on influencing media coverage of agricultural science, specifically agricultural biotechnology.

Persuasive communication was achieved through the use of positively framed messages (health,

scientific progress, or economics) to discover what impact the message frame had on

communicators' attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish the information.

RQ1: When exposed to a specific positively valenced news frame, to what extent do issue
involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influence
communicators' attitudes toward argument quality of the message?

RQ2: When exposed to a specific positively valenced news frame, to what extent do issue
involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influence
communicators' likelihood to publish the information?









CHAPTER 2
RELEVANT LITERATURE

The previous chapter established the need for the current study and the research purpose,

which was to examine the effect persuasive communication (in the form of positively framed

messages) about an application of agricultural biotechnology has on influencing media coverage

of agricultural science, specifically agricultural biotechnology. This chapter provides an

overview of research related to attitudes and the persuasive communication process with specific

emphasis on the ELM and its constructs involved in the current study. The literature review

continues with an explanation of framing theory, how framing is used in a variety of

communication processes, and an overview of empirical studies that identified common frames

utilized in media coverage of agricultural biotechnology. The chapter concludes with an outline

of agenda setting and priming theories and how framing theory can be utilized in public relations

endeavors.

Attitudes and Persuasion

Eagly and Chaiken (1993) defined attitude as "a psychological tendency that is expressed

by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor" (p. 1). Attitudes can be

held toward what are termed "attitude objects" (Ostrom, Bond, Krosnick, & Sedikides, 1994).

These attitude objects can be concrete (i.e. furniture, clothing) or abstract (i.e. socialism,

capitalism) and include particular entities (i.e. personal belongings) or behaviors (i.e. voting)

(Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).

When measuring attitudes, researchers are concerned with the evaluative property, which

is the degree of positive or negative expression toward the attitude object. On the evaluative

dimension, attitudes can range from strongly positive to neutral to strongly negative (Ostrom et

al., 1994). Because attitudes cannot be directly observed, researchers rely on observable









evaluative responses to infer relevant attitudes. Three specific responses made when sharing

attitudes are affective responses, cognitive responses, and conative responses. Affective

responses are the emotional feelings connected to thinking or experiencing an attitude object.

Cognitive responses are based on beliefs, inferences, knowledge, facts, and assumptions

regarding the attitude object. Finally, conative responses are the behaviors or actions taken in

response to the attitude object (Ostrom et al., 1994).

Attitudes are an essential construct in persuasion theories because attitudes are predictive

of behavior (Stiff, 1994; Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). Perloff (2003) defined persuasion as:

a symbolic process in which communicators try to convince other people to change their
attitudes or behavior regarding an issue through the transmission of a message, in an
atmosphere of free choice (p. 8).


This definition states that the persuasion process has five criteria: 1) Symbols can be

words, images, or nonverbal signs; 2) Persuasion is an intentional, deliberate process; 3)

Persuasion is also an internal process to change attitude or behavior; 4) Transmission of a

persuasive message can be verbal or non-verbal, interpersonal or via mass media; and 5)

Individuals have free-choice regarding how to think or act in response to persuasive

communication (Perloff, 2003).

The Yale Attitude Change Approach (Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953) was among the

earliest empirical studies on the effects of persuasion communication. The researchers set out to

investigate who says what to whom with what effect. The Hovland/Yale Model of Persuasion

describes persuasion as a learning process where attitude change occurs after a series of steps:

attention, comprehension, learning, acceptance, and retention (Hovland et al., 1953). Learning

has long been recognized as a part of the persuasion process with the original research

assumption that people attend to all the information they receive (Chaiken, Wood, & Eagly,









1996). During the 1950s and early 1960s people were viewed as passive recipients of persuasive

communication. This viewpoint changed in the 1960s when more emphasis was given to the

active learning process found in cognitive models of persuasion. The learning process indicated

that people were able to concentrate on the persuasive message, speaker, or context and generate

thoughts to support (proarguments) or challenge counterargumentss) the message (Perloff, 2003).

The Cognitive Response Approach to Persuasion states that a person's cognitive response

to a message, more than the message itself, plays an important role in the persuasion process

(Petty, Ostrom, & Brock, 1981). This approach places more emphasis on cognitive processing,

but has two major limitations. First, the assumption that people always carefully think about

messages is not always the case. Second, this approach does not provide adequate explanation of

the various ways messages can influence people (Perloff, 2003).

The limitations in the cognitive process approach led to the development of two process-

based models of persuasion: the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM) (Chaiken, Liberman, &

Eagly, 1986; Chaiken et al., 1996) and the ELM (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The HSM proposes

that persuasion can occur through two processes called systematic and heuristic processing.

Systematic processing is characterized by careful attention and examination of issue-relevant

arguments. Heuristic processing relies on the use of cognitive shortcuts to assist in the evaluation

of persuasion messages (Chaiken et al., 1986). Of the two process-based models, the ELM has

been used more extensively in empirical investigations of the persuasion process because its

framework provides a more comprehensive explanation to understand communication effects

(Perloff, 2003). The following section provides additional description of the ELM and its

specific constructs of interest for the current study.









Elaboration Likelihood Model

The ELM states that the amount and type of thinking one does in regard to a persuasive

message will influence the result of that persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Elaboration

likelihood is determined by variables that affect the motivation and ability to process a message.

Motivational factors address an individual's desire to expend cognitive effort to consider

message arguments. Ability factors include those that address whether an individual possesses

the knowledge, skills, or opportunity to consider the persuasive message (Petty et al., 2005).

The ELM is comprised of two distinct routes to persuasion: the central route and the

peripheral route. In the central route, more attention is given to the information contained in a

message. People focus on the message arguments and develop a new understanding or integrate

the information with prior knowledge. Attitudes formed via this route are usually rational

because people pay attention to the message, make a cognitive effort to interpret the message,

and evaluate it. This process may not be completely rational, however, due to preexisting

opinions regarding the value of some message arguments (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).

The other route in the ELM, the peripheral route, is based on less careful consideration of

the message arguments. This route focuses less on the quality of the arguments and more on

emphasizing peripheral cues. These cues are characteristics or factors present in a message that

do not require any cognitive effort on behalf of the issue or object. Peripheral cues work as

cognitive shortcuts so people do not have to carefully consider message-relevant information

(Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).

An important assumption of the ELM is that people cannot pay attention to every message

they encounter. Attention relies on how much motivation or ability one has to attend to a

persuasive message. Typically, persuasion occurs when a person receives a message from











another source in a specific setting. This communication message can contain information about

an issue, person, or object (Petty et al., 2005).



PERSUASIVE COMMUNICATION
PERIPHERAL ATTITUDE SHIFT
Changed attitude is relatively

MOTIVATED TO PROCESS? counterpersuasion, and
(personal relevance, NO unpredictive of behavior.
need for cognition, etc.)

YES
YES
ABILITY TO PROCESS? IS A PERIPHERAL
(distraction, repetition, NO PROCESS OPERATING?
knowledge, etc.) 411
(identification with source,
YES use of heuristics,
balance theory, etc.)

WHAT IS THE NATURE NO
OF THE PROCESSING?
(argument quality.
Initial attitude, etc.) RETAIN
INITIAL ATTITUDE
MORE MORE
FAVORABLE UNFAVORABLE NO Attitude does not
THOUGHTS THOUGHTS change from
THAN BEFORE? THAN BEFORE? prevo poon.
previous position.
YES YES

IS THERE A CHANGE IN
COGNITIVE STRUCTURE? NOb
(thought rehearsal,
reflection time, etc.)

| YES YES
(Favorable) (Unfavorable)


r


CENTRAL CENTRAL
POSITIVE NEGATIVE
ATTITUDE ATTITUDE
CHANGE CHANGE
Changed attitude is relatively
enduring, resistant to
counterpersuasion, and
predictive of behavior.


p


Figure 2-1. The Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion (Petty & Wegener, 1999).

Issue Involvement and Personal Relevance

Issue involvement influences the amount of importance recipients give to a persuasive

message. The more involved an individual is, the more importance the individual will place on









the issue-relevant arguments in a persuasive message. When involvement is low, an individual

will focus less cognitive effort on the message and focus on peripheral cues such as source

credibility (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979).

The strength of involvement influences the ability of a persuasive message to encourage

thoughts either in support of or against the argument. When a person is highly involved with the

message content, counter-arguments are likely to produce adverse thoughts and decreased

agreement. However, when the arguments are in agreement with a highly involved individual,

the corresponding thoughts will be positive and provide more support to the argument (Petty &

Cacioppo, 1979).

Personal relevance to a persuasive message influences what message attributes contribute

to its effectiveness. When the persuasive message contains an issue of high relevance, the logic

of message arguments contribute to message effectiveness. In a situation of low personal

relevance, peripheral cues contribute to the message effectiveness (Petty, Cacioppo, & Goldman,

1981).

People are exposed to countless messages each day. It is impossible and impractical to give

attention to every single message (Petty et al., 2005). Therefore, when a message is personally

relevant, it becomes worthwhile to expend the mental effort to form an opinion. When the

message is not as relevant, people will not be as motivated to expend the energy to form an

opinion based on careful examination of the message arguments (Petty, Cacioppo, & Goldman,

1981).

In addition to motivation, the ability to process message arguments may vary depending on

personal relevance. When a message is highly relevant, people have most likely dedicated

cognitive effort to developing knowledge and opinions about the issue and, therefore, have the









ability to evaluate the arguments in a persuasive message. "Any variable that increases the

likelihood that people will be motivated and able to engage in the difficult task of evaluating the

message arguments increases the likelihood of the central route to persuasion" (Petty, Cacioppo,

& Goldman, 1981, p. 854). Alternatively, variables that decrease the motivation and/or ability to

evaluate message arguments will encourage persuasion via the peripheral route (Petty, Cacioppo,

& Goldman, 1981).

Argument Quality

Petty and Cacioppo (1986) stated that "one of the least researched and least understood

questions in the psychology of persuasion is: What makes an argument persuasive?" (p. 31).

Fishbein and Ajzen (1981) said that "the general neglect of the information contained in a

message... is probably the most serious problem in communication and persuasion research" (p.

359).

Within the ELM, the construct addressing the characteristics of the persuasive message is

argument quality. Argument quality deals with the attributes of any information contained in a

message that assists in evaluation of the message's target, which could be an object, person, or

issue (Petty & Cacioppo, 1981). The argument quality construct is important because this feature

of a persuasive message can influence the resulting thoughts and persuasion route utilized (Petty

& Cacioppo, 1996). However, this construct has not received a great deal of attention in ELM

studies (Areni & Lutz, 1988).

Petty and Cacioppo (1981) defined argument quality empirically through the development

of "strong" and "weak" arguments. A "strong" message contains message arguments that upon

evaluation lead to favorable thoughts (in agreement with the message). A "weak" message

contains message arguments that elicit unfavorable thoughts when recipients think about them.

During the message development process specific arguments are also checked for believability to









develop plausible strong and weak arguments. The final step is to pre-test the messages for

comprehensibility, complexity, and familiarity (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986).

Argument quality is incorporated in the ELM because this construct has some influence on

which route to persuasion is more likely to be utilized. The central route to persuasion is

characterized by more cognitive effort than the peripheral route. Message elaboration via the

central route occurs when a message recipient has both the motivation and ability to attend to a

persuasive message. In this route, a message recipient pays attention to messages, attempts to

understand them, and evaluates them. The description of that persuasion is then determined

primarily by the recipient's subjective evaluation of the message's argument quality. This

process is not entirely objective because message recipients integrate these messages into their

existing knowledge base and the resulting opinion of the message may differ among recipients. If

the recipient evaluates the message as containing strong and effective arguments, then additional

thought about the message will lead to more favorable thoughts and lasting persuasion; however,

if the message arguments are perceived as weak, additional thought will lead to

counterarguments and the possibility that the recipient will move in the opposite direction of the

position advocated in the persuasive communication (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996).

In instances when a person is either unable or unmotivated to think about a persuasive

message, the peripheral route to persuasion is utilized. As discussed previously, a recipient's

issue involvement and personal relevance influence persuasion. If a person is high in issue

involvement but does not understand the message arguments (or arguments are absent),

elaboration cannot occur because a recipient must first attend and comprehend the message.

Without attention and comprehension of the message arguments, elaboration is not possible.

When this is the case, the recipient can still develop thoughts regarding the issue based on the









subjective quality of the arguments and preexisting attitudes (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). A more

positive preexisting attitude will lead to additional favorable thoughts and strengthening of the

initial attitude while a more negative preexisting attitude will encourage unfavorable thoughts

and a more negative attitude (Tesser, 1978). This indicates that when a person lacks either the

motivation or ability to think about the message-relevant arguments, the resulting thoughts will

be determined more by preexisting attitudes than the arguments in the message (Petty &

Cacioppo, 1996).

Although argument quality is often manipulated pre-exposure to develop a "strong" and

"weak" message treatment, in the current study argument quality will be operationalized and

empirically evaluated using three distinct frames scientific progress, economics, and health

(further explained below). This study will utilize attitudes toward argument quality to provide an

objective measure of newsworthiness, which is a subjective measure of news quality.

Events that make it into the news often do so because journalists see these events as

"newsworthy" (Fishman, 1980; Tuchman, 1978). A diverse set of characteristics influence

newsworthiness (Oliver & Myers, 1999). As Meyers (1997) explained, the construct of

newsworthiness is complex and multi-dimensional:

Newsworthiness... qualities journalists believe make an event worth reporting... has never
been easy to define. There are no hard-and-fast rules about what constitutes the news, and
reporters and editors themselves are often vague about how they separate what to cover
from what to ignore within the vast pool of occurrences that could, potentially, be news. (p.
18)

Fundamental news value criteria include human interest, prominence of the issue, number

of people affected, controversy or conflict, uniqueness, proximity, timeliness, and locality

(Shoemaker & Reese, 1991). Schmierbach (2005) utilized the news values of timeliness,

significance, and relevance of readers to develop a newsworthiness index. Findings indicated that

newsworthiness was a reflection of journalists' individual perceptions and this variable is









important when exploring the gatekeeping decision process regarding what information is

eventually reported on or published.

Need for Cognition

Some people evaluate messages regardless of whether or not they need to, while others

will evaluate a message only when they absolutely must. This personality trait is called the need

for cognition (Petty et al., 2005). Need for cognition influences "the persistence and resistance of

newly formed or changed attitudes" (Haugtvedt & Petty, 1992, p. 317). Need for cognition is a

motivating factor that influences which persuasion route message recipients will use (Cacioppo,

& Petty, 1982).

Individuals who are high in need for cognition are more concerned with the quality of

information than those who are lower in need for cognition (Petty et al., 2005) and develop

opinions that are more persistent over time and more resistant to change (Haugtvedt & Petty,

1992). Cacioppo, Petty, and Kao (1984) developed an 18-item scale for need for cognition that

measures the intrinsic motivation one possesses to partake in cognitive effort.

Framing

Framing occurs every day as a function of individuals' cognitive attempts to organize life

experiences and help make sense of them. A frame is used to take a situation that would

otherwise not be meaningful and communicate it in a different way that gives it meaning

(Goffman, 1974). Frames are structures found in culture to organize understanding of social

phenomena (Hertog & McLeod, 2001). In communication, framing helps organize information

by drawing attention to important elements, emphasizing key pieces of information, and ignoring

superfluous details. Entman (1993) said:

To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a
communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal









interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described.
(p. 52)

Frames can appear in four distinct phases of the communication process: the

communicator, text, receiver, and culture. Relevant to the creation of news frames,

communicators make deliberate or unintentional decisions when deciding what to say. As

Entman (1993) explained, the text of a communication process can also contain frames. These

frames are formed through inclusion or exclusion of key words, phrases, images, sources, and

sentences that reinforce a theme. How the receiver interprets frames may or may not reflect the

original intention of the communicator when the frame was established. Finally, an individual's

culture provides an inventory of common frames shared by people in a social grouping. The

appearance and attention to frames at each of the phases of the communication process promotes

a shared function to highlight information, develop arguments about a problem, and subsequently

focus on causation, evaluation, and/or solution.

Framing involves selection and salience. When a piece of information is emphasized, it

increases the audience member's perception of salience, which is how noticeable, meaningful, or

memorable a piece of information is to the audience (Entman, 1993). Hertog and McLeod (2001)

outline five applications of frames: to determine what content is relevant to discussion of a

concern; to define the roles of stakeholders, to outline relevant beliefs, actions, and values; to

determine the language used to discuss the topic; and to outline the values and goals of the

content area.

In regard to frames in news coverage, "a frame is a central organizing idea for news

content that supplies a context and suggests what the issue is through the use of selection,

emphasis, exclusion, and elaboration" (Tankard, Hendrickson, Silberman, Bliss, & Ghanem,

1991, p. 11). Within media content, frames can be identified in a number of "focal points:" (1)









headlines and kickers, (2) subheads, (3) photographs, (4) photo captions, (5) leads, (6) selection

of sources or affiliations, (7) selection of quotes, (8) pull quotes, (9) logos, (10) statistics, charts,

and graphs, and (11) concluding statements or paragraphs of articles (Tankard, 2001). Journalists

rely on frames to filter large amounts of information, determine what is important, and efficiently

communicate that information to their audiences (Gitlin, 1980). "The news frame organizes

everyday reality and the news frame is part and parcel of everyday reality... [it] is an essential

feature of news" (Tuchman, 1978, p. 193). Thus, how the media chooses to select and present

issues may impact how audience members interpret the event (Price, Tewksbury, & Powers,

1997).

Scheufele (1999) synthesized several approaches to framing research and developed a

process model of framing. This model divides framing into four processes: "frame building;

frame setting; individual-level effects of framing; and a link between individual frames and

media frames" (p. 114). The frame building process addresses how media frames are developed,

and Scheufele (1999) states that more research is needed to examine how journalists select

frames or make changes to existing frames. Specifically, more work is needed to determine what

individual characteristics, organizational factors, or external sources may influence how news

content is framed.

The frame setting process is similar to agenda setting (McCombs & Shaw, 1972) or more

specifically, second-level agenda setting (McCombs, Llamas, Lopez-Escobar, & Rey, 1997).

While agenda setting addresses the salience of issues through examination of the coverage and

placement of news events, second-level agenda setting is concerned with the salience of issue

attributes (McCombs et al., 1997). Second-level agenda setting refers to the tone of news

coverage and attributes given to issues or individuals. The emphasis given to the specific









attributes within news coverage connects this theoretical work to framing theory. McCombs

(1997) stated that "framing is the selection of a restricted number of thematically related

attributes for inclusion on the media agenda when a particular object is discussed" (p. 37).

Despite the similarities of framing and second-level agenda setting, Scheufele (2000) affirmed

that framing is a distinct theory because it deals with the subtle changes in wording that may

affect how the audience thinks about the topic, while agenda setting (including second-level

agenda setting) is based on the concept of attitude accessibility. Fazio (1989) defined attitude

accessibility along a continuum based on the strength of an association between an object in

memory and an individual's evaluation of that object. The media, through coverage or non-

coverage, have the ability to influence both the issue and attribute salience of topics, thereby

influencing attitude accessibility (Scheufele, 2000).

The individual-level effect of the framing process is concerned with behavioral, attitudinal,

and cognitive variables that influence the outcome of framing. Media frames have been found to

influence the amount of importance individuals' assign to covered issues (Nelson, Clawson, &

Oxley, 1997). Empirical work has described the effects of media framing on individual variables,

but has not provided explanation as to why or how the variables are connected. Iyengar (1991)

explored how "episodic" and "thematic" frames impact viewer's attributions of responsibility for

political issues, but it is unknown what role audience framing played in the framing process.

The link between individual and media frames relates to how journalists respond to the

frames utilized to describe events and issues. This aspect of the framing process is concerned

with the influence that existing frames such as those from sources, interest groups, and elites

have on journalists' use of frames (Scheufele, 1999). Through examination of crime news









coverage, Fishman (1980) found that journalists are susceptible to media frames in which a

frame first utilized by a small number of news media was soon adopted by other media.

In print or broadcast news, frames provide the "angle" for a story. News frames can

provide a theme or style that would appeal to the audience, and potentially influence opinions or

judgments of the news topic (Stone, Singletary, & Richmond, 1999). Price et al. (1997) stated

news frames can influence readers' opinions and thoughts because readers' cognitive responses

varied depending on how the news story was framed. Framing also influenced how readers

evaluated the presented messages by activating knowledge relevant to the frame. This finding

indicates that frames can act as prompts for what knowledge audience members need to utilize to

evaluate the message (Price et al., 1997).

News frames have been used and studied in a number of contexts such as politics (i.e.

Rhee, 1997; Semetko & Valkenburg, 2000), violence (i.e. Husselbee & Elliot, 2002),

international news (i.e. Entman, 1991), and health (i.e. Lawrence, 2004). One of the areas of

research in which news frames have been shown to be particularly relevant is in the area of

scientific issues (Einsiedel, 1992; Nelkin, 1995; Trumbo, 1996). Empirical studies have explored

the frames present in news media coverage of nanotechnology (i.e. Stephens, 2005),

environmental risks (i.e. Griffin & Dunwoody, 1997; Anderson & Marhadour, 2007), genetics

(i.e. Ten Eyck & Williment, 2003), and agriculture (i.e. Ashlock, Cartmell, & Kelemen, 2006;

Ruth, Eubanks, & Telg, 2005).

Framing Biotechnology

Biotechnology is an area of science that has received a great deal of attention from

communication scholars. Prior to the 1970s, biotechnology referred to applications in food

processing and agriculture. Since that time, it has expanded to incorporate a broader definition of

biological research using laboratory techniques (Bunders, Haverkort, & Hiemstra, 1996). Beyond









agricultural and food science, biotechnology has been applied to medical, industrial, and

environmental uses.

A number of studies have been conducted to examine what types of frames are utilized in

mass media coverage of this topic. Nisbet and Lewenstein (2002) found an increase in

agricultural biotechnology coverage in The New York Times and Newsweek from 1970 to 1999.

Despite a few cases of negative coverage, the overall tone was positive. Prominent frames

included "economic costs" and "scientific progress." A recent study of frames utilized in the

Washington Post, the Sunday Times, and the London Times found that medical biotechnology

was portrayed more approvingly than agricultural biotechnology. Although the researchers

identified benefits of agricultural biotechnology including health, environmental, social,

humanitarian, and economic, the media examined in their study utilized frames that emphasized

the risks associated with agricultural applications of biotechnology over the benefits (Marks et

al., 2007).

Gaskell et al. (1999) examined news coverage of agricultural biotechnology in the United

States and Europe and also found the dominant frames of "progress" and "economic prospect" as

well as a dominant theme of "health" regarding applications of agricultural biotechnology. In an

examination of how agricultural biotechnology was framed in German media from 1992 to 1999,

Kohring and Matthes (2002) discovered early emphasis on the economic, health, and

environmental advantages and disadvantages of biotechnology applications, which was defined

as the "Agri-Food: Pros & Cons" frame. Lundy and Irani (2004) examined U.S. and British print

media coverage of agricultural biotechnology, and identified several prominent frames:

contamination of the food supply, human risk, environmental risk, scientific progress, and world

hunger.









Priest and Ten Eyck (2003) analyzed news media coverage of biotechnology in the United

States, Canada, and 14 European countries. Eight prominent frames were identified: progress,

economic, ethical, Pandora's box, runaway technology, nature/nurture, public accountability, and

globalization. Several of these frames focused on presenting the benefits and risks of agricultural

biotechnology. The progress (or progressive) frame was the most identified frame in 11 of the

countries and was at least in the top three in all countries. When this frame was utilized, only 8%

of the articles mentioned the likelihood of a risk while 58% mentioned a potential benefit. The

economic frame was the third most popular frame overall. When it was identified as the

dominant frame in news coverage of biotechnology, 16% of the articles focused on the

likelihood of risks, while 48% mentioned benefits (Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003).

Framing and the Elaboration Likelihood Model

In the ELM, research regarding argument quality has explored the influence of utilizing

positively and negatively framed messages to encourage persuasion (Petty & Wegener, 1998).

Health communication research has investigated which message frames are most effective in

persuading individuals to change behavior and have focused on negative versus positive frames

(Maheswaran & Meyers-Levy, 1990) or benefits versus costs frames (Rothman & Salovey,

1997).

Maheswaran and Meyers-Levy (1990) examined how a negative or positive message frame

influenced persuasion at different levels of issue involvement. The context of this study was a

preventative health issue (high cholesterol) and addressed how message frames and issue

involvement may jointly influence attitudes toward acceptance of an advocated behavior. Results

indicated that when respondents had low issue involvement, the positively framed message

arguments were more persuasive than negative message framing. Alternatively, when issue









involvement was high, respondents reported the negatively framed messages were more

persuasive (Maheswaran & Meyers-Levy, 1990).

Donovan and Jalleh (2000) also explored the use of positively and negatively framed

persuasive messages in the context of attitudes toward immunization of infants. Respondents

with low-issue involvement were more persuaded through positive framing of messages,

consistent with the Maheswaran and Meyers-Levy (1990) finding. However, no framing effect

was found for respondents with high levels of issue involvement indicating that either frame

choice would be equally successful in the persuasion process (Donovan & Jalleh, 2000).

These studies provide empirical support for the use of frames in the development of

persuasive communication; however, the use of positive versus negative frames may not always

be the most practical option in persuasive communication campaigns. In political persuasive

campaigns, issue framing is a fundamental component that influences attitudes and opinions.

Nelson and Oxley (1999) conducted two experiments to explore different frames for policy

problems (land development dispute and welfare reform). Drawing from discourse on the topics,

the frames utilized to present the land development dispute were "environmental preservation"

versus "economic growth." The second study with the welfare reform context used "personal

responsibility" versus "protecting children's well-being" issue frames. In both experiments, the

frame influenced opinions regarding the issue and significantly affected evaluations about the

importance of different beliefs for each policy area (Nelson & Oxley, 1999).

Lundy (2004) conducted another study of the influence of two positively valenced message

frames: "mutual benefit" and "moral norms." Findings indicated that the message frames

influenced cognitive processing, which may indicate a salience effect, but issue involvement and

need for cognition influenced attitudes more than the message frames alone (Lundy, 2004). More









research regarding how events are framed in the media can provide additional understanding of

how public opinion is guided and formed as a result of news coverage (Marks et al., 2007).

Agenda Setting and Priming

In addition to framing, agenda setting and priming are distinct communication theories that

share some similarities in the underlying cognitive process and effects (Weaver, 2007). Agenda

setting basically describes the media's ability to tell people what to think about through the

selection and coverage of certain issues or events (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). The agenda-setting

hypothesis is related to cognitive psychology because it is concerned with the importance people

place on certain issues and how that salience is reached (Severin & Tankard, 1992). Funkhouser

(1973) found a strong relationship between the public's ranking of important issues and the

amount of coverage these issues received in the media. This finding supported the agenda-setting

hypothesis, but also raised a causal question of whether the media sets the public agenda or if the

public is setting the media agenda.

Agenda setting can be further divided into two levels. The "first level" of agenda setting is

concerned with the salience given to "objects," which have characteristics or attributes that

describe them. The "second level" of agenda setting emerged when more attention was given to

connecting agenda setting research with other communication theories such as framing

(McCombs, 2005). The similarity of second-level agenda setting and framing lies in the

emphasis on how issues are portrayed in the media rather than what issues are presented to a

greater or lesser extent (Weaver, 2007). Theoretically, agenda-setting focuses on which issues

are covered, while framing research studies how issues are reported (Tankard, 2001).

Whereas framing research investigates the selection and presentation of issues in the

media, priming research investigates the mental processing of information supplied via the mass

media (Stone et al., 1999). Iyengar and Kinder (1987) found that when evaluating political









candidates, people rely on heuristics and cognitive shortcuts. People use available knowledge to

make decisions or form opinions instead of actively thinking about all the information. The

media assists in priming through the emphasis on certain topics or issues that then "prime" the

public to form opinions.

Public Relations and Framing

Knight (1999) states that public relations practitioners already utilize framing as a tool

when writing news releases and developing internal communications. "Public relations

practitioners occupy positions ideally suited for framing issues in a way likely to advance both

public and organizational interests" (Knight, 1999, p. 384). When framing is used consistently

over time, these practitioners can help benefit the organizational goals and address complicated

social problems (Knight, 1999).

Public relations practitioners use news releases to provide information to the media, to

suggest story ideas, and give names of sources for use in news articles. Studies have found a

limited, but discernable, impact of public relations practitioners' ability to utilize frames to shape

the media's message (Barnett, 2005). More skillful crafting (i.e. framing) of messages from

organizations may influence how journalists frame news and the resulting public opinion.

"Framing may offer a way for public relations professionals to challenge journalistic narratives;

to present views ignored or derided by the mainstream press; to correct perceptions; and,

ultimately, to redefine issues for their publics" (Barnett, 2005, p. 358).

Framing is integral to the practice of public relations because "the establishment of

common frames of reference about topics or issues of mutual concern is a necessary condition

for effective relations to be established" (Hallahan, 1999, p. 207). Although framing research has

been increasing in popularity for several decades, little attention has been given to the role of

public relations as a source in news framing (Hallahan, 1999).









Dunwoody (1992) said the use of frames is crucial to journalists because they allow for

quick recognition and minimize mental effort. Public relations practitioners can assume the role

of "frame strategists who strive to determine how situations, attributes, choices, actions, issues,

and responsibility should be posed to achieve favorable outcomes for clients" (Hallahan, 1999, p.

224). When suggesting information for news, public relations professionals attempt to frame the

story to meet the news outlet's preferred framing. Skilled practitioners are able to package the

information in ways to meet the journalists' expectations for news value, content, and flow. In

turn, journalists attempt to present an issue using frames that will resonate with their perceptions

of the audience (Hallahan, 1999).

Summary

The review of literature outlined in this chapter provided an overview of research

regarding the persuasive communication process and specific application of the ELM. Current

gaps in knowledge illustrate a need to further explore how agricultural communicators can utilize

the ELM and framing theories to improve media coverage and public awareness of agricultural

biotechnology.









CHAPTER 3
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

Overview

As demonstrated in Chapters 1 and 2, the American public has a limited understanding of

agricultural issues, and the amount of people directly involved in agriculture and natural

resources continues to decrease. Without direct exposure to agriculture, the public will tend to

increase its reliance on news media reports for knowledge about pertinent agricultural science

issues. However, journalists' ability to report on scientific endeavors, including agricultural

scientific applications, is hampered due to a number of individual and organizational constraints.

To assist journalists who are reporting on complex agricultural topics, communicators need to

effectively provide messages to the media that contain newsworthy information in an easily

accessible format.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the effect of message framing on: 1)

communicators' attitudes toward the argument quality, and, 2) likelihood to publish a specific

science application, agricultural biotechnology. To conduct this study, attitudes toward argument

quality were assessed within the framework of the ELM. Message framing has a rich research

history and has received some attention in connection with persuasive communication theories

such as the ELM. However, these empirical studies often present information using opposite

frames such as positive vs. negative or benefits vs. costs while situations exist where

communicators attempt to get positive messages in the media about agricultural issues or events.

Thus, more research is needed to explore the salience of positively valenced frames and the

influence on relevant attitudes or behaviors regarding these issues. Through investigation of how

message framing influences attitudes of argument quality and likelihood to publish science









related agricultural information, communicators will be better equipped to reach journalists, and

the broader public, with positively valenced messages.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

The current study seeks to address the following research questions:

RQ1: When exposed to a specific positively valenced news frame, to what extent do issue
involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influence
communicators' attitudes toward argument quality of the message?

RQ2: When exposed to a specific positively valenced news frame, to what extent do issue
involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influence
communicators' likelihood to publish the information?


Based on the above research questions, the following research hypotheses were developed:

H1: Attitudes toward argument quality of a positively valenced message will differ
significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural
biotechnology, and message frame.

H2: Attitudes toward likelihood to publish information presented in a positively valenced
message will differ significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude
toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame.

H3: Subjects who are high in issue involvement and are presented with the scientific
progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than
those who are low in issue involvement and receive either the economics or health
frames.

H4: Subjects who have more positive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology
and are presented with the scientific progress frame will have more favorable
attitudes toward argument quality than those who have less positive attitudes toward
agricultural biotechnology and receive either the economics or health frames.

H5: For those who receive the scientific progress frame, subjects who are high
in issue involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argument
quality than subjects who are low in issue involvement.

H6: For those who receive the health frame, subjects who are low in issue
involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than
subjects who are high in issue involvement.

H7: A combination of issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural
biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in
attitudes toward argument quality.









H8: A combination of issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural
biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in
likelihood to publish the information.


Research Design

This study utilized a 2 (issue involvement: high and low) x 2 preexistingg attitude toward

agricultural biotechnology: more positive and less positive) x 3 (message frames: scientific

progress, economics, and health) between-subjects factorial quasi-experimental design. Subjects

were randomly assigned to receive one of three message frames using an online random number

generator. The experiment focused on determining whether an individual's issue involvement

and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, when provided with a specific message frame,

influenced resulting attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish agricultural

biotechnology news (Figure 3-1).

Preexisting Attitudes toward Argument Quality Likelihood to Publish
Agricultural Biotechnology High High
(more positive vs. less positive) '-A

Issue Involvement -----.....
(high vs. low) ,
-- Argument Quality Likelihood to Publish
Message Frame I Low Low
(health, economics, scientific
progress)

Figure 3-1. Operational framework for the current study.



A factorial design was chosen in order to determine the effect of two manipulated

independent variables on the dependent variables, and the interaction among the variables (Ary,

Jacobs, & Razavieh, 2002). In this posttest-only, randomized subject design quasi-experiment: R

= random assignment; 1 = posttest measures; Xi = scientific progress frame, high issue

involvement, and more positive attitude; X2 = scientific progress frame, high issue involvement,









and less positive attitude; X3 = scientific progress frame, low issue involvement, and more

positive attitude; X4 = scientific progress frame, low issue involvement, and less positive

attitude; X5 = economics frame, high issue involvement, and more positive attitude; X6 =

economics frame, high issue involvement, and less positive attitude; X7 = economics frame, low

issue involvement, and more positive attitude; X8 = economics frame, low issue involvement,

and less positive attitude; X9 = health frame, high issue involvement, and more positive attitude;

X1o = health frame, high issue involvement, and less positive attitude; X11 = health frame, low

issue involvement, and more positive attitude; and X12 = health frame, low issue involvement,

and less positive attitude. The group design is as follows:

R X1 O1

R X2 01

R X3 01

R X4 01

R X5 01

R X6 01

R X7 01

R X8 01

R X9 01

R Xio 01

R X11 01

R X12 01

The research design took into account a number of threats to internal and external validity.

Internal validity addresses the extent to which changes in the dependent variable can be









attributed to the independent variable(s) within an experimental situation. Ary et al. (2002)

outline a number of threats to internal validity. The post-test only research design of the current

study, combined with random assignment of subjects, addressed the threats of history,

maturation, protesting, regression, mortality, and selection-maturation interaction. Measuring

instruments can be a threat to internal validity. This threat was addressed by using a panel of

experts to establish face validity and pilot-testing the instrument for construct validity. The

messages were also developed using a panel of experts and two rounds of message testing. No

changes were made to the instrument during the timeframe of the experiment, which could have

introduced a threat to internal validity.

Other threats to internal validity are experimenter and subject effects. The use of an online

instrument reduced the experimenter effect because this reduced any influence of the

researcher's personal characteristics on subjects. Subject effects such as the Hawthorne effect

and John Henry effect were reduced because subjects completed the experiment in their own

setting, and although subjects were aware they were completing an online survey, they most

likely were not aware they were participating in an experiment due to the unobtrusive nature of

data collection. The final potential threat to internal validity was diffusion in which subjects in

one group may communicate with those in another group regarding the experiment. This threat

was addressed by not emphasizing that an experiment was being conducted or that people may

have received different message frames (Ary et al., 2002).

In addition to threats to internal validity, the research design also accounted for a number

of threats to external validity such as population validity, ecological validity, and validity of

operations (Ary et al., 2002). Population external validity addresses the ability to generalize the

results of a sample to a larger population. The target population for the current study includes









communicators in science and agricultural content areas. The experimentally accessible

population includes members of two professional organizations (explained in more detail below).

In the current study, it is possible to generalize from the study sample to the experimentally

accessible sample because all members of the organizations were included and randomly

assigned to message conditions (Christensen, 2001).

Ecological validity refers to the environment in which the research was done. This threat to

external validity was reduced because subjects completed the online instrument in their real

world environment instead of a laboratory setting (Ary et al., 2002; Christensen, 2001). The final

threat to external validity is the validity of operations, which was addressed by providing

operational definitions and details of the procedure to improve the likelihood that similar results

could be obtained in the future with different researchers or measurement procedures (Ary et al.,

2002).

Subjects

The population for this study includes communicators in both science and agricultural

science content areas who are members of the American Agricultural Editors Association

(AAEA) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). As of January 2008, AAEA

had 238 members classified as "active" who work on the editorial staff of agricultural

publications across the nation with an e-mail address contact. AAEA members who were

classified as "affiliate," "student," or "honorary" were not relevant to the study and were not

included in the sample. The 2007 NASW directory included the names of 2,181 individuals with

e-mail addresses. A thorough examination of these names indicated 1,167 people who were

listed as staff reporters, editors, and freelance journalists in the United States. This list does not

include research journal editors, retirees, university professors, or public information officers.

Previous studies with communicators and journalists indicate the need to over-sample in order to









reach an appropriate sample size based on poor response rates (Schmierbach, 2005). Therefore,

the accessible sample of all 237 members of AAEA and 1,167 members of NASW who fit the

sampling frame were included in the study for a total sample size of 1,404. From the initial e-

mail sent to all subjects, 164 (11.7%) were returned due to inaccessible addresses after two

attempts (23 from AAEA, 141 from NASW). This was determined to be an inaccessible group in

the sample. After removing the invalid addresses, the final accessible sample size was 1,240.

From this sample, 362 started the survey, but 54 had to be removed due to incomplete responses

resulting in a final response rate of 24.8% (n = 308). In respect to each organization, response

rates were 35.0% (n = 75) for AAEA and 21.0% (n = 215) for NASW. Eighteen respondents

included in the study (5.8%) said they did not belong to either organization although their contact

information was located in one of the membership directories.

Subjects were randomly assigned to one of the three message groups, which helped

mitigate the influence of extraneous variables. Random assignment improves internal validity

because each subject has an equal chance of being assigned to any group and any confounding

variables are distributed in the same way (Wimmer & Dominick, 2003). The groups differed by

the message frame scientific progress, economics, and health.

Message Stimuli

The experiment in this study was designed to test message stimuli. Subjects were randomly

assigned (with the use of a random number generator) to one of three messages about peanut

allergen research. The topic of the messages was based on actual research conducted at the

University of Florida and featured by the Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership

(STEP) Program. The researcher quoted in the message, Dr. Maria Gallo, assisted in the message

development and approved each version for accuracy. Each of the messages (see Appendix D)

was presented using a press release format with masthead, dateline, contact information (which









was left unassigned), Associated Press style, and the inverted pyramid style of news writing. The

purpose of the message was to look close enough to an actual press release without using an

actual contact person who might be contacted for additional information.

Each of the messages presented a frame, two of which were positively valenced (scientific

progress and economics) while the third acted as a conditional control (health). The conditional

control message was developed to contain factual information to resemble the way this type of

information is commonly presented. Identified as a dominant theme and benefit of agricultural

biotechnology applications (Gaskell et al., 1999; Marks et al., 2007), the health message

contained a human interest lead about someone with peanut allergies and continues with details

about the prevalence of this type of allergy, foods to avoid, and one quote from the researcher.

The headline read: "Recent study explores possibility of allergen-free peanuts." This frame did

not provide any specifics about the research process or future research endeavors.

The scientific progress frame has been identified as a dominant frame in news media

coverage of agricultural biotechnology (Gaskell et al., 1999; Nisbet & Lewenstein, 2002; Priest

& Ten Eyck, 2003; Lundy & Irani, 2004; Crawley, 2007). The message developed that utilized

this frame highlighted the research process and used keywords or phrases such as

"breakthrough," "paving a new path," "progress," "discovery," and "future investigation." The

message also featured step-by-step organization to highlight the research process. The headline

for this message read: "Scientific breakthrough may lead to allergen-free peanuts." The

researcher explained the research process and what the findings mean for future research.

Also identified as a dominant frame in news coverage of agricultural biotechnology

(Gaskell et al., 1999; Nisbet & Lewenstein, 2002; Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003; Crawley, 2007), the

economics frame emphasized the impact the development of allergen-free peanuts may have on









the peanut industry. The headline read: "Work on allergen-free peanuts may lead to substantial

economic growth for $800 million peanut industry." This message utilized a number of

keywords or phrases including "economics," "supply and demand," "sales," "growth," and

"peanut commodity market." The researcher provided her opinion about what this research may

mean for the peanut industry and how commodity representatives are involved in the research

project. All three messages were revised by a panel of experts and pre-tested with professional

communicators. A manipulation check was also included in the final instrument.

Message Stimuli Testing

To pre-test the message frames, 162 members of the Association for Communication

Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) who are

involved in the Writing Special Interest Group (SIG) received one of three messages (see

Appendix B). ACE is a professional organization of communicators and information

technologists who work in a variety of positions for universities, government agencies, and

private companies. Members of the ACE Writing SIG were chosen due to their expertise and

experience in writing and editing press releases. Three messages were developed to exhibit a

health, economics, or scientific progress frame. In the first round of message testing, respondents

were asked to read a randomly assigned press release then list the main topic of the message. The

health frame was initially developed to serve as a conditional control so it was not provided as a

frame option. Following several more questions, respondents were provided with a list of

possible options to describe the frame: economics, scientific progress, neither, or don't know.

Less than half of the respondents correctly identified their assigned message frame (48.7%, n =

19). Using comments from the respondents, messages were further refined to be more distinct,

especially between the health and scientific progress frames.









In the second round of message testing, respondents were randomly assigned to receive

one of the three message treatments and provide quantitative and qualitative feedback regarding

the message topic or frame. Respondents were asked to select a provided message frame that

they would use to describe the press release: economics, scientific progress, health, or don't

know. The health frame was included as an option after the first round of message testing

indicated the possibility that respondents wanted to choose the "best" option instead of choosing

"neither." The messages showed improvement in testing with 73.5% (n = 25) of the respondents

selecting the correct message frame (Table 3-1).

Table 3-1. Frequency of Subjects Correctly Identifying the Message Frame
Main Frame of Message N %
Round 1 Economics 6 50.0
Scientific Progress 12 92.3
Control 1 .1
Total 19 48.7

Round 2 Economics 7 70.0
Scientific Progress 10 76.9
Health 8 72.7
Total 25 73.5

In the second round of message testing, respondents were asked to evaluate the argument

quality of the message using a 10-item index of attributes measuring on a semantic differential

scale. A one-way ANOVA found no significant difference between the three message frames

(F2,33 = .43, p = .66) indicating that the respondents found them to be the same in argument

quality regardless of the identified frame.

Independent Variables

This study has three independent variables one of which was manipulated. The message

frame was manipulated so as to specifically focus on the scientific progress, economics, or health

(the conditional control) frame. The other independent variables are issue involvement and









attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Issue involvement was not manipulated, but was

measured as a preexisting disposition using instrumentation to indicate whether a subject was

high or low in involvement. The final independent variable of attitude toward agricultural

biotechnology was also not manipulated. It was measured as a preexisting disposition for the

purposes of comparison.

Message Frame

For the purpose of the study, three press releases were prepared regarding the same

agricultural biotechnology news story about the development of an allergen-free peanut. This

context was selected because it is an area of biotechnology that includes both human and plant

aspects. The Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP) featured this research area

in its outreach endeavors.

Within the press releases, the key information was consistent in all versions, but certain

facts were emphasized or de-emphasized to utilize a specific frame. Manipulation checks during

a preliminary round of message testing were conducted to establish the messages as distinct and

identifiable by frame. As explained previously, the two treatment message frames (scientific

progress and economics) were selected based on a review of the literature (Gaskell et al., 1999;

Nisbet & Lewenstein, 2002; Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003; Lundy & Irani, 2004; Crawley, 2007).

The conditional control frame (health) was selected because it has been identified as an

important theme in news media coverage of biotechnology (Gaskell et al., 1999) and benefit of

agricultural biotechnology (Marks et al., 2007).

Issue Involvement

Issue involvement affects the amount of importance and attention individuals give to a

persuasive message. The level of involvement influences what message elements (i.e. issue-

relevant arguments, peripheral cues, etc.) a message recipient attends to and what thoughts are









developed as a result of the persuasive message (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979). Issue involvement

was not purposively manipulated in this study although it is assumed that members of the two

organizations (AAEA and NASW) may have different levels of issue involvement. Two different

groups were used in order to ensure there would be some variation in issue involvement. Within

the context of this study, communicators who regularly cover issues related to agriculture or

agricultural biotechnology are hypothesized to have higher levels of issue involvement.

Conversely, individuals who do not report on agriculture or agricultural biotechnology issues

regularly will have less personal relevance or issue involvement.

This variable was measured using Zaichkowsky's (1994) Personal Involvement Inventory

for Advertising (PIIA) scale (cited in Bearden & Netemeyer, 1999). The 10-item PIIA scale was

adapted from Zaichkowsky's (1985) original 20-item Personal Involvement Inventory (PII)

scale. The purpose of the PII scale is to measure a person's perceived rational and emotional

relevance toward an advertisement or object through assessment of interests, values, and needs

(Zaichkowsky, 1985). The revised scale was selected apriori in an effort to minimize the time

needed to complete the entire instrument. The PIIA presents an individual with the product of

research interest followed by 10 semantic differential items, each measured on a 7-point scale (a

5-point scale was used in the current study). The opposing adjectives include items such as

"Important" versus "Unimportant" and "Irrelevant" versus "Relevant." Individuals then indicate

the level of personal relevance to the object by marking along the 7-point scale for each semantic

differential item. The PIIA scale has a reported reliability alpha coefficient ranging from .68 to

.95 with a unidimensional structure in factor analysis (Zaichkowsky, 1994).

Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology

Two separate indices were used to measure the third independent variable of attitudes

toward agricultural biotechnology. On the first measure, respondents indicated their attitude to









the statement: "I feel agricultural biotechnology is." This index used a five-point semantic

differential scale with six bipolar adjective pairs: foolish/wise, wrong/right,

unacceptable/acceptable, unfavorable/favorable, bad/good, and negative/positive. Wood (2006)

adapted this index from Burgoon, Cohen, Miller, and Montgomery (1978) to determine attitude

toward agricultural biotechnology with an alpha reliability coefficient of .95.

The second attitude index included seven belief statements derived from an original 20-

item list of arguments and counterarguments utilized by Wood (2006). Respondents were asked

to indicate their level of agreement from strongly disagree to strongly agree to each of the belief

statements. No alpha reliability coefficient was provided in the original study for the 20-item

index.

In addition to preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, respondents also

indicated their attitude toward the message topic (peanut allergen research) after receiving the

message treatment. This variable was measured using the same six-item semantic differential

index used to gather preexisting beliefs.

Dependent Variables

Argument Quality

Petty and Cacioppo (1986) outline several subconstructs of argument quality including

believability, comprehensibility, complexity, credibility, and familiarity of the message.

Argument quality is often manipulated in studies of persuasive messages, but in the current study

this construct is utilized to provide an objective measure of newsworthiness, which is a

subjective measure of news quality. To measure attitudes toward argument quality, a 10-item

semantic differential scale was utilized to measure subjects' perceptions of the issue-relevant

arguments within the message they received. Seven of the items were adapted from a 10-item

index Lundy (2004) utilized to measure argument quality attributes, which was adapted from









several scales (Beltramini, 1982; Thorson, Christ, & Caywood, 1991). These attributes were

presented on a semantic differential scale to determine whether messages are perceived as

believable, high quality, convincing, credible, reasonable, conclusive, and accurate. The

remaining three items were taken from Schmierbach's (2005) index of newsworthiness based on

journalists' rating of timeliness, significance, and relevance to readers. This 3-item index had an

alpha of .80. Combining the two indices created a 10-item semantic differential index to measure

the dependent variable of attitudes toward argument quality. By utilizing attitudes toward

argument quality as a determinant of newsworthiness, this study seeks to provide a more

objective measure of newsworthiness when communicators are presented with a positively

valenced news frame.

Likelihood to Publish

To assess the likelihood a newspaper would publish a story based on information in a press

releases, Schmierbach (2005) used a 2-item 10-point scale that asked how likely respondents

would be to write a story based on the press release and how likely they would be to use a wire

story based on the information in the press release. The scores on these items were then averaged

to develop an index about the likelihood a newspaper would publish a story based on the

information (Cronbach's alpha = .72). These questions were adjusted in the current study to

utilize a 5-point scale and an additional question was added to determine the likelihood a

respondent would be to seek out a source to write or publish a story.

Attribute Variables

In order to improve the generalizability of research findings, several attribute variables

were included in the factorial design (Ary et al., 2002). These variables included age, gender,

education, years as a professional in the communications field, position title, type of news

publication, circulation of publication, and need for cognition. Need for cognition was measured









using the 18-item Need for Cognition Scale (NCS) with one item removed to improve the

reliability coefficient alpha (Cacioppo et al., 1984).

Instrumentation

The instrumentation for this study was distributed via an online survey using

SurveyMonkey, which is an online tool used to create, deliver, and analyze online survey

questionnaires. Online or Web surveys are the latest development in survey research as they

become more frequently utilized. Web surveys are more common due to an increased familiarity

and adoption of computers for everyday use as well as increased Internet access. Computer

hardware and software make online surveys easier to construct and less expensive to conduct

(Dillman, 2007).

Instrument Pilot Test

To determine the instrument's reliability and validity, it was pilot tested in April 2008 with

a sample (n = 111) of media representatives within the state of Florida who were not members of

either AAEA or NASW. Thirty-seven surveys were completed for a 33% response rate.

Prior to disseminating the survey, it was reviewed by a panel of experts for face and

content validity. Construct validity was established through the logical approach, which

measures each concept within a theory using a set of questions. These questions are piloted and

only those with high reliability are used in the final instrument (Black, 1999). Using SPSS 16.0

for WindowsTM, item analysis statistics were run to determine the construct validity of each of

the scales measuring concepts of interest. In the social sciences, a reliability coefficient of .80 or

larger indicates an index is well-constructed and relatively precise (Traub, 1994). This data

analysis indicated several necessary changes to the instrument before final distribution.

The 10-item issue involvement index measuring reporting on food and natural resource

issues had an alpha reliability coefficient of .89. One item had a corrected item-total correlation









of .37 and was removed from the index. The final version 9-item scale had a reliability alpha of

.89 (Table 3-2).

Table 3-2. The PIIA Scale Used to Measure Issue Involvement
I feel that reporting on food and natural resource issues is...
Important* 1 2 3 4 5 Unimportant
Boring 1 2 3 4 5 Interesting
Relevant* 1 2 3 4 5 Irrelevant
Exciting* 1 2 3 4 5 Unexciting
Means Nothing to MAe 1 2 3 4 5 Means A Lot To Me
Appealing* 1 2 3 4 5 Unappealing
Fascinating* 1 2 3 4 5 Mundane
Worthless 1 2 3 4 5 Valuable
Involving* 1 2 3 4 5 Uninvolving
Not Needed 1 2 3 4 5 Needed
Note: *Item is reverse coded. Strikethrough indicates item was removed in final instrument.

To measure pre-existing attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, two separate indices

were piloted. The 6-item index had an alpha reliability of .97 so all items were kept in the final

version. The 8-item index had an alpha reliability of .79. One item had a corrected item-total

correlation of .37 and was removed. As show in Table 3-3, the final version used a 7-item index

with an alpha reliability coefficient of .80.

Table 3-3. The Scale Used to Measure Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology
Biot ch foods ar e being forced on U.S. consumers.*
Both large and small farmers reap economic benefits from agricultural biotechnology.
Agricultural biotechnology lacks adequate testing.*
Agricultural biotechnology is natural. The process is just faster and more precise than traditional
plant breeding.
Biotech foods are in development that will improve human health.
Agricultural biotechnology will help to feed the world's rapidly expanding population.
Biotech crops improve water quality, requiring fewer chemicals than traditional crops.
Biotech foods pose unforeseen health risks.*
Note: *Item is reverse coded. Strikethrough indicates item was removed in final instrument.
Items measured on a 5-point Likert scale where 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree.

Attitude about the message topic, peanut allergen research, was measured using the same

6-item semantic differential index as preexisting attitudes toward biotechnology. This index had









an alpha reliability of .95 so all items were retained for the final version. Argument quality was

measured with a 10-item index that had an alpha reliability of .88. Seven of the items were

drawn from Lundy (2004) while the remaining three were added from Schmierbach's (2005)

study of newsworthiness. All of the items were retained in the final version. Intent to publish the

information contained in the message was measured using a 3-item index with an alpha

reliability coefficient of .94. All items had to be retained for the final version to be loaded as an

index. The final index utilized in the instrument was need for cognition, which was measured

using 18-items. The full index had an alpha reliability of .88, which was improved to .91 by

dropping one item (Table 3-4).

Table 3-4. The Scale Used to Measure Need for Cognition
1. I would prefer complex to simple problems.
2. I like to have the responsibility of handling a situation that requires a lot of thinking.*
3. Thinking is not my idea of fun.*
4. I would rather do something that requires little thought than something that is sure to
challenge my thinking abilities.*
5- I try to anticipate and avoid situations where there is likely change I will have to think in
depth about something.*
6. I find satisfaction in deliberating hard and for long hours.
7. I only think as hard as I have to.*
8. I prefer to think about small, daily projects to long-term ones.*
9. I like tasks that require little though once I've learned them.*
10. The idea of relying on thought to make my way to the top appeals to me.
11. I really enjoy a task that involves coming up with new solutions to problems.
12. Learning new ways to think doesn't excite me very much.*
13. I prefer my life to be filled with puzzles that I must solve.
14. The notion of thinking abstractly is appealing to me.
15. I would prefer a task that is intellectual, difficult, and important to one that is somewhat
important buy does not require much thought.
16. I feel relief rather than satisfaction after completing a task that required a lot of mental
effort. *
17. It's enough for me that something gets the job done; I don't care how or why it works.*
18. I usually end up deliberating about issues even when they do not affect me personally.
Note: *Item is reverse coded. Strikethrough indicates item was removed in final instrument.
Items measured on a 5-point Likert scale where 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree.









Instrument Content


The survey was the same for all subjects except for a randomly assigned link to three

different versions of the message stimuli (Appendix D), which were presented as Adobe

Acrobat Portable Document Files. The instrument (Appendix C) was developed as a series of

pages to minimize scrolling and was comprised of the following elements:

* Page 1 included the informed consent procedure and online instructions for enabling
JavaScript and cookies, which are necessary to access the online survey in SurveyMonkey.
This information was provided to overcome any technical difficulties respondents may
have encountered.

* Page 2 included three demographic questions asking participants if they were members of
AAEA or NASW, their current position title, and what type of news organization they
work for. These questions were included at the beginning because they were deemed
crucial for data analysis.

* Page 3 included the 9-item Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising Scale to
measure issue involvement to the statement: "I feel that reporting on food and natural
resource issues is."

* Page 4 included the first of two indices to measure attitudes toward agricultural
biotechnology. The instructions asked respondents to indicate their attitude to the
statement "I feel agricultural biotechnology is" on a series of six bipolar adjective
statements.

* Page 5 included the second index to measure attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology.
This index asked respondents to indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with seven
belief statements.

* Page 6 included a link to the randomly assigned message stimuli and instructions for the
subjects to read the message carefully at least twice. The message appeared in a separate
window as an Adobe Acrobat Portable Document File.

* Page 7 included six comment boxes that allowed respondents to provide their thoughts
after reading the message. Questions then asked respondents how important the message
was to them personally (measured on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 = not at all important
and 5 = very important) and how motivated they were to read the message (measured on a
5-point Likert scale with 1 = not at all motivated and 5 = very motivated). Another
question asked respondents to identify the dominant frame or theme in the message as
health, economics, scientific progress, or don't know. The final question on this page
asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement (on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 =
strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree) to the statement: "I believe this press release is
newsworthy."









* Page 8 included an attitude index to measure attitudes toward the message topic of peanut
allergen research. The instructions asked respondents to indicate their attitude to the
statement "I feel peanut allergen research is" on a series of six bipolar adjective statements.

* Page 9 included the attitudes toward argument quality index comprised of 10 bipolar
adjective statements to measure newsworthiness.

* Page 10 included a three-item index to measure respondents' intent to publish the
information contained in the message stimuli. Subjects were asked to indicate 1) how
likely they were to utilize the information in the message, 2) if they saw this story on the
AP wire service, how likely they would be to publish, and 3) how likely they would be to
seek out a source to write or publish a story based on information in the message. These
questions were measured using a 5-item Likert scale with 1 = highly unlikely and 5 =
highly likely. This index also included a "Not Applicable" response option. The final
question on this page asked subjects what their perceived method for receiving a press
release was.

* Page 11 included the 17-item need for cognition scale, which was measured using a 5-
point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree).

* Page 12 was the final page of the survey and included additional demographic questions:
year born, gender, highest level of education, years working in the communications field,
and publication's circulation. Respondents were also able to provide additional comments
about the survey.

Procedure

To conduct the study, subjects were sent an e-mail with a link to a randomly assigned

message treatment. The message treatment was embedded in a news release about agricultural

biotechnology in the area of peanut allergen research. The experimental manipulation was based

on how the news release is framed scientific progress, economics, or health as the conditional

control. A manipulation check within the instrument determined respondents were able to

identify a dominant message frame. Following the framed message, respondents completed a

thought-listing measure (Brock, 1967; Greenwald, 1968) in which they recorded any thoughts

the message elicited. These thoughts were then coded as favorable, unfavorable or neutral toward

the message (Cacioppo, Harkins, & Petty, 1981).









Administration of the survey followed Dillman's (2007) Tailored Design Method with

adjustment for an online questionnaire instead of the traditional mail questionnaire. A pre-notice

letter was mailed to the sample a few days before they were sent online directions for the survey

(see Appendix A). This helped improve perceptions of importance and make the respondents

aware of the upcoming e-mail. The letter also included the URL address for the online survey

and the subjects' e-mail address where the survey would be sent. This provided respondents an

opportunity to access the survey immediately as well as to inform the researcher of any mistake

in the provided e-mail address. The actual instrument was then delivered to the sample through

an e-mail link to the questionnaire with a randomly assigned treatment or control message frame

(see Appendix B-2). This e-mail again emphasized why the respondent's feedback was important

and provided incentive to participate in the study. The informed consent process was provided on

the first page of the survey instrument. Two weeks after the initial pre-notice letter was mailed, a

reminder e-mail with a link to the questionnaire was distributed (see Appendix B-l). A final

reminder e-mail was sent 10 days after the first reminder to encourage participation (Dillman,

2007).

Data Analyses

Data analysis for this study was completed using SPSS 16.0 for WindowsTM PC.

Cronbach's coefficient alpha was used as an internal-consistency measure of reliability. This

measure is used with Likert type questions when a score can take on a range of values (Ary et al.,

2002). Three-way and two-way factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to address the

research hypotheses. Black (1999) states that this design can be more comprehensive in its

examination of the main factors and possible interactions. This statistical procedure is more

economical than other one-way designs and features the same amount of power. This type of









data analysis enhances external validity by making it possible to generalize to realistic settings

(Black, 1999).

Additional analysis of the hypotheses utilized multiple linear regression to further explore

the relationship between each dependent variable and the independent variables. The coefficient

of multiple determination (R2) was used to explain the difference in each dependent variable

attributed to the independent variables. Finally, factor analysis procedures were utilized in post

hoc analysis to examine groups of questions and their suitability to develop several indexes

(Black, 1999).









CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

Overview

Utilizing the ELM and framing theory, the purpose of this study was to determine the

effect of message framing on: 1) communicators' attitudes toward the argument quality, and, 2)

likelihood to publish information regarding a specific science application. In this research, the

message was about the application of agricultural biotechnology to develop an allergen-free

peanut. The information was delivered via an online press release format to members of the

American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) and the National Association of Science

Writers (NASW). Guided by the ELM and research hypotheses, the key three independent

variables were preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, issue involvement, and

message frame. The two dependent variables of interest were attitudes toward argument quality

and likelihood to publish the information within the press release message.

This chapter provides an analysis of the data beginning with sample demographics, then

moves to analysis of the variables of interest, which include issue involvement with reporting

food and natural resource issues, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and

attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish. Next, the chapter continues with a

discussion of scale reliabilities utilized to develop the indexes that measure the independent and

dependent variables. This is followed by an overview of manipulation checks, then tests of the

hypotheses are provided. The chapter concludes with a series of post hoc analyses.

Descriptive Analysis

Using online survey development and administration software, the 77-item questionnaire

was administered to the accessible sample of 237 members of AAEA and 1,167 members of

NASW who fit the sampling frame for a total sample size of 1,404. After removing the invalid e-









mail addresses, the final accessible sample size was 1,240 and 308 questionnaires were

completed for a 24.8% response rate. The response rate for AAEA was 35.0% (n = 75) and

NASW had a 21.0% (n = 215) response rate.

Potential Error

Dillman (2007) describes four types of error that can occur when conducting surveys:

sample, coverage, measurement, and nonresponse. Sampling error is created when a proportion,

and not all, of the population is sampled. To address this possibility, all members of the

population who met the guidelines of the sampling frame were included in the study. The next

type of error that can occur is coverage error, which is possible when the list used to draw the

sample does not include all members of the population. The current study does have a limitation

due to coverage error because the sample included only members of the organizations who had

e-mail addresses listed in the membership directories. Those members who did not have e-mail

addresses were not included in the accessible sample and may have differences from those in the

study.

Measurement error, the third type of survey error, occurs when the questionnaire is poorly

constructed or questions are difficult for the sample to answer. To address this potential error, a

panel of experts was used to establish face validity and the instrument was pilot tested to develop

construct validity. The final type of error is nonresponse error, which happens when a significant

portion of the sample does not respond to the survey and may be different than those who do

respond (Dillman, 2007). The current study had a final response rate of 24.8% and falls within

the range of response rates reported in previous studies that have surveyed journalists or

communicators using online instruments (Arant & Anderson, 2001; Cassidy, 2005; Chung, Kim,

Trammell, Porter, 2007). To account for potential nonresponse bias, early responders were

compared to late responders on key demographic characteristics including organization









membership, current position title, type of news organization for which they work, gender, age,

education, years working in the communications field, and their publication's circulation.

Early responders (n = 250) were defined as those who completed the survey prior to the

first reminder e-mail. Late responders (n = 58) were those who completed the survey after the

first or second follow-up e-mail. In a study with NASW members, Yun and Trumbo (2000)

found that 80% of responses to an e-mailed survey were collected within three days of sending

the initial e-mail demonstrating a similar skew toward early responses.

Chi-square statistics compared the early and late responders on a number of demographic

characteristics (Table 4-1) and an independent samples t-test compared the groups on age (Table

4-2) to determine if the proportion of responders in the early and late categories were

significantly different. No significant difference was found between early and late responders on

gender, education, years in communication profession, position, several news organization

categories, publication circulation, and age. Results indicated a significant difference between

the responder groups in terms of membership (p value = .05) and those who work in a

communication department (p value = .03). As anticipated, the difference between the

membership categories may be attributed to how salient the research topic was to individuals.

These two groups were chosen to ensure some variation in issue involvement and AAEA

members may have found the topic of peanut allergen research to be more closely related to their

interests.

The other significant difference between the early and late responder groups was those

who worked in communication departments with many more replying earlier than later. This

difference may be because responders could identify themselves in more than one category of









news organization. These differences in responder groups do introduce a limitation to the study


and a potential nonresponse bias.

Table 4-1. Characteristics of Early and Late Survey Respondents


Membership


American
Agricultural Editors'
Association
National Association
of Science Writers


Early
Respondents
N %

66 28.1


Late
Respondents
N %


9 16.4 3.19


71.9 46 83.6


105 44.3
132 55.7


41.8
58.2


.11 .43


Education


Years in
Communication
Profession


Position Title


Some college to
bachelor's degree
Graduate or
professional degree

Less than 3 years
3-5 years
6-10 years

11-15 years

16-20 years
More than 20 years


Freelance
Writer for single
publication
Editor for single
publication
Public relations
practitioner
President or owner
Other


97 40.6 22 38.6

142 59.4 35 61.4


2.9
11.7


30 12.6


.08 .45


2.12


10 17.5


30 12.6 7 12.3

25 10.5 8 14.0

119 49.8 24 43.9


136 55.1
25 10.1

45 18.2

7 2.8


66.7
10.5


6.57


8 14.0

3 5.3


1.2
12.6


X2 p
value


Gender


Male
Female











Table 4-1. Continued


Early
Respondents


News
Organization





News
Organization


Publication
Circulation


Daily newspaper
Weekly newspaper
Weekly magazine
Monthly magazine


Online journalism
Broadcast journalism
Communication
department
Public relations


Less than 19,999
20,000-49,999
50,000-74,999
More than 75,000
Work for more than
one publication
Other


N
29
20
22
123


104
16
31


%
11.6
8.0
8.8
49.2


41.6
6.4
12.4


Late
Respondents
N %
5 8.6
2 3.4
7 12.1
29 50.0


29.3
23.8
3.4


12 4.8 3 5.2 .01 .56


7.6
6.8
5.9
17.4
55.5


16 6.8


4 7.1
1 1.8
2 3.6
3 23.2
12 57.1

4 6.8


Table 4-2. Independent Samples T-Test to Compare Age of Early and Late Survey
Respondents


Early
Responders
Mean SD
Age 49.63 13.40


Late
Responders
Mean SD
51.28 11.87


df p value
281 .41


Additional comparison of the early and late responders utilized independent samples t-tests

to compare the two responder groups' scores on the independent variables of issue involvement


p
value


.43
1.47
.59
.01


2.98
.37
3.94


3.28









and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. As shown in Table 4-3, no significant

differences were indicated.

Table 4-3. Independent Samples T-Test for Significant Differences Between Early and Late
Respondents
Early Respondents Late Respondents
N Mean SD N Mean SD p
t df
value
Issue Involvement 235 4.24 .56 54 4.22 .52 .34 287 .74

Preexisting Attitudes 243 3.98 .84 55 3.85 .84 1.05 296 .29
toward Agricultural
Biotechnology

Demographics

Demographic characteristics collected in the survey included: gender, age, education, years

working in the communications field, organization membership (AAEA or NASW), type of

news organization, current position title, and publication circulation (Table 4-4). Several

demographic questions have missing responses because they were included at the end of the

instrument and some respondents did not complete the survey in its entirety. Descriptive analysis

indicated 164 female respondents (53.2%) and 128 male respondents (41.6%). Respondents'

ages ranged from 22 to 85 years old with a mean age of 49.9 years.

The majority of respondents had a graduate or professional degree (57.5%, n = 177) and

37.7% (n = 116) had at least a four-year bachelor's degree. Three (1.0%) responded that they had

at least some college. Nearly half of the respondents (46.8%, n = 144) had worked as a

professional in the communications field for more than 20 years. The remaining respondents

exhibited a range of years of experience from less than three years (2.9%, n = 9), three to five

years (10.7%, n = 33), six to 10 years (13.0%, n = 40), 11 to 15 years (12.0%, n = 37), and 16 to

20 years (10.7%, n = 33).









Seventy-five respondents were members of AAEA (24.4%) and 215 respondents (69.8%)

were members of NASW. The remaining respondents (5.8%, n = 18) indicated they were not

members of either organization, introducing some potential for coverage error. At the time the

study was conducted, the most current membership directories were utilized to develop the

sample. However, these respondents may have chosen to leave the organizations since the

directories were made available.

Respondents worked for a variety of news organizations and could choose more than one

response due to the possibility of freelance writers working with a number of clients. The

greatest number of respondents worked for a monthly magazine (49.4%, n = 152). The next

highest category was online publication (39.3%, n = 121) followed by a daily newspaper (11.0%,

n = 34), communication division/department (10.7%, n = 33), weekly magazine (9.4%, n = 29),

weekly newspaper (7.1%, n = 22), broadcast (6.8%, n = 21), and public relations (4.9%, n = 15).

In addition, 95 respondents (30.8%) provided "other" responses including freelance, quarterly

magazines, non-profit organizations, and book publishers.

Respondents worked in a variety of positions, but the majority (58.4%, n = 180) described

themselves as freelance writers who work for more than one client. Other positions represented

in the sample included: editor for single publication (17.2%, n = 53), writer for single publication

(10.1%, n = 31), public relations practitioner (3.2%, n = 10), or president or owner (1.3%, n = 4).

Positions in the "other" category were identified as broadcast journalist (1.9%, n = 6), editor for

several publications (1.3%, n = 4), working in a communication division as a writer or editor

(1.0%, n = 3), multimedia developer (.6%, n = 2), and the remaining 11 respondents' positions

(3.6%) were those who perform a variety of tasks that could not be labeled with one position title

or had unique titles that could not be categorized.









The final demographic characteristic collected was circulation of publication. Due to the

large percentage of respondents who were freelance writers, the majority of respondents (52.9%,

n = 163) could not provide a circulation number. The remaining respondents worked for

publications with more than 75,000 (17.5%, n = 54), followed by publications with less than

19,999 circulation (7.5%, n = 23), circulation of 20,000-49,999 (5.5%, n = 17), and circulation of

50,000-74,999 (5.2%, n = 16). Respondents in the "other" category worked for online

publications (1.3%, n = 4) or broadcast radio or television (1.0%, n = 3). Five respondents

(1.6%) said they did not know or could not provide this information. The remaining respondents

(2.3%, n = 7) said the question was not applicable or provided numbers that could not be

identified as online, viewership, or circulation.

Table 4-4. Characteristics of Survey Respondents
N %
Membership American Agricultural Editors' Association 75 24.4
National Association of Science Writers. 215 69.8
Neither 18 5.8


Gender Male 128 41.6
Female 164 53.2


Education Some college to bachelor's degree 119 38.6

Graduate or professional degree 177 57.5


Years in Less than 3 years 9 2.9
Communication
Communication 3-5 years 33 10.7
Profession
6-10 years 40 13.0
11-15 years 37 12.0
16-20 years 33 10.7
More than 20 years 144 46.8










Table 4-4. Continued


N %


Position Title







Position Title










News
Organization


Publication
Circulation


Freelance
Writer for single publication
Editor for single publication
Public relations practitioner


President or owner
Broadcast journalist
Multimedia
Communication division writer or editor
Editor for several publications
Other


Daily newspaper
Weekly newspaper
Weekly magazine
Monthly magazine
Online journalism
Broadcast journalism
Communication department
Public relations
Other


Less than 19,999
20,000-49,999
50,000-74,999
More than 75,000
Work for more than one publication
Online


Broadcast
Don't Know
Other


58.4
10.1
17.2
3.2


1.3
1.9
.6
1.0
1.3
3.6


11.0
7.1
9.4
49.4
39.3
6.8
10.7
4.9
30.8


7.5
5.5
5.2
17.5
52.9
1.3
1.0
1.6
2.3









In addition to demographic characteristics, respondents were asked to provide their

preferred method for receiving press releases. The majority of respondents prefer online

methods, specifically e-mail (71.8%, n = 221), websites (13.3%, n = 41), and RSS feeds (1.9%, n

= 6). Only 5.5% (n = 17) prefer receiving press releases via mail and no respondents indicated

fax as a preferred method. In addition, seven (2.3%) respondents said they do not want to receive

press releases.

Issue Involvement

Issue involvement was measured using Zaichkowsky's (1994) Personal Involvement

Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) scale (cited in Bearden & Netemeyer, 1999). The 10-item PIIA

scale was adjusted to 9-items after pilot testing revealed improvement of the reliability alpha by

removing one item. Using a 5-point semantic differential scale, respondents indicated their

response to each item. In order to test the research hypotheses, a mean split was conducted to

establish two groups (high and low) based on average issue involvement scores. The mean for

this scale was 4.24 resulting in 141 low issue involvement respondents (M = 3.78, SD = .42) and

148 high issue involvement respondents (M = 4.67, SD = .22). An independent samples t-test

indicated a significant difference between the two groups' issue involvement scores (t = -22.84, p

= .00).

Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology

To determine preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology respondents indicated

their response to "I feel agricultural biotechnology is..." using six bipolar adjectives

(foolish/wise, unacceptable/acceptable, unfavorable/favorable, wrong/right, bad/good,

negative/positive) on a 5-point scale. Responses were then summed and averaged to develop the

attitude scale. Respondents were classified as more positive or less positive in their average

attitude responses using a mean split of 3.96, resulting in 115 less positive attitude respondents









(37.3%) and 183 more positive attitude respondents (59.4%). An independent samples t-test

indicated a significant difference between the two groups' attitude scores (t = -25.65, p = .00).

The mean response for the less positive group was 3.08 (SD = .52) while the mean response for

the more positive group was 4.51 (SD = .43). Further exploration of the data indicated no

significant difference in attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology between high and low issue

involvement respondents (t = -1.53, p value = .13).

Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements

Following the six-item scale to determine preexisting attitudes toward agricultural

biotechnology, respondents were asked a series of seven belief statements regarding agricultural

biotechnology. Using a 5-point Likert scale, respondents indicated their agreement to each

statement from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Subjects gave the belief statement,

"Agricultural biotechnology will help to feed the world's rapidly expanding population," the

highest overall mean of 3.82 (SD = .96). The lowest mean was 2.85 (SD = 1.11) for the belief

statement, "Agricultural biotechnology is natural. The process is just faster and more precise

than traditional plant breeding." Table 4-5 displays the means for each statement organized by

high and low issue involvement. Independent samples t-tests to compare the responses for high

and low issue involvement respondents found no significant differences on any of the belief

statements.

Attitudes Toward Message Topic

After reading the randomly assigned message treatment, respondents were asked a series of

questions to determine their attitude regarding the message topic about peanut allergen research.

Respondents were asked to indicate their response to "I feel peanut allergen research is..." using

six bipolar adjectives on a 5-point Likert scale. The response categories were the same as those

used to determine preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Responses were









summed and averaged to develop the attitude scale. The mean score was 4.36 (SD = .70)

indicating more positive attitudes overall toward the message topic.

Table 4-5. Agreement with Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements
High Issue Low Issue
Involvement Involvement
N Mean SD N Mean SD


Both large and small farmers reap
economic benefits from agricultural
biotechnology.

Agricultural biotechnology lacks
adequate testing.*

Agricultural biotechnology is natural.
The process is just faster and more
precise than traditional plant breeding.

Biotech foods are in development that
will improve human health.

Agricultural biotechnology will help to
feed the world's rapidly expanding
population.

Biotech crops improve water quality,
requiring fewer chemicals than traditional
crops.

Biotech foods pose unforeseen health
risks.*

Scores based on Likert scale with 1 = stroi
reverse coded.


148 3.28 1.13



147 2.98 1.10



148 2.86 1.13



148 3.72 .91



148 3.81 1.07



148 3.44 .96


147 2.91

ngly disagree and


141 3.40


141 2.96 1.01



141 2.86 1.12


141 3.71



140 3.89



140 3.48


.97 141

5 = strongly agree.


2.99

*Item was


Likelihood to Publish

Respondents were asked a series of three questions to measure the likelihood the

information within the message would be published. The items used a 5-point Likert scale with 1

being highly unlikely and 5 being highly likely with an option to respond "not applicable." Table

4-6 displays the descriptive statistics for the individual statements. The scores for these questions









were then summed and averaged to create the likelihood to publish index. Overall, the mean

score for this index was 2.48 (SD = 1.26) indicating a low intent to publish the information

contained in the message.

Table 4-6. Descriptive Statistics for Likelihood to Publish
N Number of
N a b Mean SD
not applicable


How likely would you be to 274 29 2.32
utilize the information in the
press release to write or
publish a story?

If you saw this story on the 244 59 2.51
AP wire service, how likely
would you be to publish the
information?
How likely would you be to 270 33 2.63
seek out a source to write or
publish a story based on the
information in the press
release?
Scores based on Likert scale with 1 = highly unlikely and 5 = highly likely.


1.37


1.36




1.40


Need for Cognition

For the purposes of the current study, need for cognition (NFC) was evaluated as an

attribute variable. The original 18-item scale was adjusted to 17 items following pilot testing,

which revealed an improvement in Cronbach's alpha with the deletion of one item. Respondents

indicated their agreement to the 17 items on a 5-point Likert scale where 1 indicated strongly

disagree and 5 indicated strongly agree. Due to the length of this index and its placement at the

end of the instrument, it was not completed by all respondents (273 subjects completed the

index). Average NFC scores ranged from 1.82 to 5.00 with a mean score of 3.95. For the purpose

of describing respondents, a mean split was used to categorize respondents as high or low in

need for cognition, which resulted in 146 (47.4%) low need for cognition respondents who









scored below the mean and 127 (41.8%) high need for cognition respondents who scored at or

above the mean. An independent samples t-test indicated a significant difference between the

two groups (t = -20.38, p = .00).

The ELM Scales

Within the framework of the ELM (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986), several scales were utilized

to determine the underlying constructs of issue involvement, attitudes toward argument quality,

and need for cognition. The current study used issue involvement and attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology as independent variables while attitudes toward argument quality was

a dependent variable. Need for cognition was an attribute variable that was not included in the

hypothesis testing process.

Issue Involvement Scale

In the current study, issue involvement was measured using Zaichkowsky's (1994)

Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) scale (cited in Bearden & Netemeyer,

1999). Following pilot testing, the 10-item PIIA scale was adjusted to nine items to improve the

reliability alpha. Using a 5-point semantic differential scale, respondents indicated their response

to each of the nine items. The scale had a range of standard deviations from .52 to .96

demonstrating some variance in the data for this scale. The discrimination index for the items

included in the issue involvement scale (Table 4-7) showed the corrected item-total correlation

ranged from .44 to .73. The corrected item-total correlation measures the correlation between

each item and the overall summated index score. The alpha reliability coefficient for the entire

index was a = .87 and would not be improved by removing any item. Therefore, the grand mean

for the issue involvement scale was 4.24 (SD = .55).










Table 4-7. Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) Scale Inter-item
Consistency Statistics


Mean

Important/Unimportant* 4.76

Boring/Interesting 4.26

Relevant/Irrelevant* 4.70

Exciting/Unexciting* 3.61

Appealing/Unappealing* 3.92

Fascinating/Mundane* 3.70

Worthless/Valuable 4.64

Involving/Uninvolving 3.82

Not needed/Needed 4.74

Scores based on semantic differential scale with
was reverse coded. Valid N = 289.


SD

.54

.90

.70

.92

.88

.96

.57

.93

.52

1 = imp


Corrected Item- Alpha if Ite
Total Correlation Deleted

.48

.66

.44

.73

.73

.72

.56

.69

.52

ortant and 5 = unimportant. *Item


Attitudes Toward Argument Quality

Attitudes toward argument quality were measured in this study using a researcher-

developed index that was a combination of two scales. After reading the randomly assigned

message, respondents indicated their attitude regarding issue-relevant arguments within the

message on a series of 10 bipolar adjectives measured using a 5-point semantic differential scale.

Seven items were adapted from a 10-item index that Lundy (2004) utilized to measure argument

quality attributes and the remaining three items were drawn from Schmierbach's (2005) index of

newsworthiness. The standard deviations for the scale ranged from .79 to 1.18 and the lowest

corrected item-total correlation was .56 as shown in Table 4-8. The alpha reliability coefficient

for the overall index was a = .92 and could not be improved by deleting a single item. The grand

mean for the argument quality index was 3.43 (SD = .79).


m


.87

.85

.87

.85

.85

.85

.86

.85

.87









Table 4-8. Perceived Argument Quality Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics
Corrected Item- Alpha if Item
Mean SD
Total Correlation Deleted
Insignificant/Significant 3.29 1.18 .72 .90
Irrelevant/Relevant 3.54 1.10 .69 .91
Untimely/Timely 3.31 1.15 .60 .91
Not Believable/Believable 3.96 .95 .68 .91
Low Quality/High Quality 3.12 1.17 .76 .90
Not Convincing/Convincing 3.25 1.11 .77 .90
Not Credible/Credible 3.74 .97 .70 .91
Unreasonable/Reasonable 3.85 .91 .72 .91
Inconclusive/Conclusive 2.69 1.15 .70 .91
Inaccurate/Accurate 3.52 .79 .56 .91
Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1 = insignificant and 5 = significant. Valid
N= 282.


Need for Cognition Scale

The Need for Cognition Scale consisted of 17 Likert-type questions where 1 was strongly

disagree and 5 was strongly agree. The data for this scale demonstrated a satisfactory amount of

variance with standard deviation ranging from .73 to 1.12. The discrimination index for the NFC

scale (Table 4-9) showed the lowest corrected item-total correlation was .31. The reliability

alpha coefficient for the overall NFC index was a = .86 and would not have been improved with

the removal of any single item. The grand mean for the overall index was 3.95 (SD = .51).

Table 4-9. Need for Cognition Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics
Corrected Item- Alpha if Item
Mean SD
Total Correlation Deleted
NFC.1 3.55 .92 .41 .86
NFC.2* 4.46 .74 .58 .85
NFC.3* 4.27 .87 .46 .86










Table 4-9. Continued.


Mean

NFC.4 4.47
NFC.5 3.40

NFC.6* 3.93

NFC.7* 3.64

NFC.8* 3.88
NFC.9 4.08

NFC.10 4.26

NFC.11* 4.35
NFC.12 3.44

NFC.13 3.92

NFC.14 3.93

NFC.15* 3.74
NFC.16* 4.10

NFC.17 3.70

Scores based on Likert scale with 1 = strongly
reverse coded. Valid N = 273.


Corrected Item- Alpha if Item
SD
Total Correlation Deleted

.73 .51 .86
1.12 .31 .86

.98 .52 .85

.99 .38 .86

.94 .48 .86
.86 .59 .85

.81 .62 .85

.74 .62 .85
.93 .46 .86
.92 .55 .85

.98 .54 .85

1.00 .47 .86
.92 .44 .86

.91 .37 .86

disagree and 5 = strongly agree. *Item was


Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology

To measure preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, respondents provided

their response to six items on a 1 to 5 semantic differential scale. Standard deviations for items in

this index ranged from .89 to .95. The lowest corrected item-total correlation (Table 4-10) for the

items in this index was .85 indicating strong correlation between each item and the overall index

score. The alpha reliability coefficient was a = .96 justifying its use in the study. The grand mean

for the overall scale was 3.96 (SD = .84).










Table 4-10. Preexisting Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology Scale Inter-item
Consistency Statistics


Mean

Foolish/Wise 3.99
Unacceptable/Acceptable 4.09
Unfavorable/Favorable 3.93
Wrong/Right 3.93
Bad/Good 3.93
Negative/Positive 3.86
Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1


Corrected Item- Alpha if Item
SD
Total Correlation Deleted
.90 .87 .96
.89 .85 .96
.94 .90 .96
.89 .90 .96
.90 .92 .95
.95 .88 .96

= foolish and 5 = wise. Valid N = 298.


Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements

In addition to the six-item scale to assess preexisting attitudes toward agricultural

biotechnology, respondents provided their responses to a series of seven belief statements. These

items were measured on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being

strongly agree. Standard deviations for items in this scale ranged from .89 to 1.11. Table 4-11

shows the discrimination index with the lowest corrected item-total correlation at .58. The alpha

reliability coefficient is a = .85 indicating an acceptable level of reliability. The grand mean for

the complete index was 3.30 (SD = .72).

Table 4-11. Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements Scale Inter-item Consistency
Statistics


Corrected Item-
Mean SDCorre
Total Correlation


Alpha if Item
Deleted


Both large and small farmers reap
economic benefits from agricultural
biotechnology.
Agricultural biotechnology lacks
adequate testing.*


3.34


2.95


1.06


1.04









Table 4-11. Continued


Corrected Item-
Mean SDCorre
Total Correlation


Alpha if Item
Deleted


Agricultural biotechnology is
natural. The process is just faster
and more precise than traditional
plant breeding.
Biotech foods are in development
that will improve human health.
Agricultural biotechnology will
help to feed the world's rapidly
expanding population.
Biotech crops improve water
quality, requiring fewer chemicals
than traditional crops.
Biotech foods pose unforeseen
health risks.*

Scores based on Likert type scale with
was reverse coded. Valid N = 301.


2.86 1.11


3.71


3.82



3.44


2.95 .93 .60

1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. *Item


Attitudes Toward Message Topic

To measure attitudes toward the message topic of peanut allergen research, respondents

provided their response to the same six items used to establish preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology. The six items were measured using a 1 to 5 semantic differential

scale. Standard deviations for items in this attitude index ranged from .89 to .95. The

discrimination index found the lowest corrected item-total correlation (Table 4-12) for the items

in this index was .78. The alpha reliability coefficient was a = .95 indicating its acceptability as

an index in the current study. The grand mean for the overall scale was 4.36 (SD = .70).









Table 4-12. Attitudes toward Message Topic Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics
Corrected Item- Alpha if Item
Mean SD
Total Correlation Deleted
Foolish/Wise 4.29 .79 .81 .95
Unacceptable/Acceptable 4.53 .72 .78 .95
Unfavorable/Favorable 4.34 .81 .86 .94
Wrong/Right 4.32 .80 .86 .94
Bad/Good 4.34 .78 .91 .94
Negative/Positive 4.35 .77 .89 .94
Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1 = foolish and 5 = wise. Valid N = 299.


Likelihood to Publish

This scale included three items to measure how likely the respondent was to use the

information contained in the message to write or publish a story. Standard deviations for the

scale ranged from 1.36 to 1.41. The lowest corrected item-total correlation shown in the

discrimination index (Table 4-13) was .75.


Table 4-13. Likelihood to Publish Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics
Corrected Item-
Mean SDCorre
Total Correlation


Alpha if Item
Deleted


How likely would you be to utilize
the information in the press release
to write or publish a story?
If you saw this story on the AP wire
service, how likely would you be to
publish the information?
How likely would you be to seek
out a source to write or publish a
story based on the information in
the press release
Scores based on Likert type scale with
239.


2.33



2.51


1.39


1.36


2.59 1.41


1 = highly unlikely and 5 = highly likely. Valid N









The alpha reliability coefficient for the likelihood to publish index was a = .90, which is an

acceptable level to use this index in the study. Although the alpha could be improved by

removing one item, it is necessary to retain all three items in order to construct an index. The

grand mean for the overall scale was 2.48 (SD = 1.26).

Manipulation Checks

To evaluate the message frame stimuli used as an independent variable, a series of

manipulation checks were conducted. The three message frames (scientific progress, health, and

economics) were developed using the same basic information regarding research of an allergen-

free peanut. Each individual message was then enhanced with key words and phrases to exhibit

the characteristics of the assigned frame. The messages were reviewed by a panel of experts then

submitted to two rounds of message stimuli testing. During the second round of message testing,

the mean attitudes toward argument quality score (based on the 10-item index utilized in the

study) was used to compare the three frames. A one-way ANOVA found no significant

difference between the attitudes toward argument quality of the three message frames (F2,33

.43, p = .66) indicating that the respondents found them to be the same in argument quality

regardless of the frame.

In the current study, respondents were randomly assigned to receive one of the three

message frames. As a second manipulation check, respondents were then asked to select one of

the frame categories (scientific progress, health, or economics) they thought was the most

appropriate classification for the dominant theme or frame for the message. The economics and

health frames seemed to be easily identifiable, but respondents who received the scientific

progress frame classified it as either the intended frame (scientific progress) or the health frame

(Table 4-14). This confusion between the scientific progress and health frames is a limitation of

the study. Overall, 63% (n = 194) correctly identified their assigned message stimuli frame.










Table 4-14. Classification of Message Frame by Assigned Frame

Identified Frame
E. Scientific Don't
Assigned Frame N Health Economics n
Progress Know
Health 91 66 3 19 3
Economics 103 19 70 8 6
Scientific Progress 114 53 0 58 3
Total 308 138 73 85 12


A one-way ANOVA found a significant difference between the attitudes toward argument

quality of the three message frames (F2,281 = 7.46, p = .00). Inpost hoc analysis, the Bonferroni

procedure was used to explore this difference and found a significant difference in perceived

argument quality between the health message frame and economics message frame (p = .00) and

the economics and scientific progress frames (p = .01). However, no significant difference was

found between the health and scientific progress message frames (p = 1.00). In the current study,

argument quality was not intentionally manipulated apriori and was explored as a dependent

variable and proxy for measuring newsworthiness.

To further evaluate the manipulation influence on the message frames, three additional

univariate ANOVA tests were conducted (Table 4-15). Subjects were asked two questions to

assess how important the message was to them personally and how motivated they were to read

the message. To determine importance, subjects were asked "How important was the press

release message to you personally?" on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 being not important at all

and 5 being very important. A one-way ANOVA to compare the mean responses for subjects

receiving the different message frames was not significant (F2, 305 = .84, p = .43).

To determine motivation, subjects were asked "How motivated were you to read the press

release?" on a 5-point Likert scale. Comparison of the mean response for each message frame









using a one-way ANOVA found there was a significant difference (F2,306= 5.10, p = .01).

Subjects who received the health message frame indicated more personal motivation (M = 3.06,

SD = .95) than those who received the economics (M = 2.72, SD = 1.11) or scientific progress

(M = 3.13, SD = .93) message frames.

Subjects were also asked to assess the newsworthiness of the press release message using a

5-point Likert scale where 1 was strongly disagree and 5 was strongly agree. Responses to the

statement: "I believe this press release is newsworthy" were significantly different between the

three message frames (F2,306 = 11.54, p = .00). The mean response for health (M = 3.53, SD =

.98) and scientific progress (M = 3.49, SD = 1.13) indicated these message frames were more

newsworthy than the economics frame (M = 2.87, SD = 1.14).

Table 4-15. ANOVA for Subjects' Perceptions of Message Frames
Health Economics Scientific Progress
N Mean SD N Mean SD N Mean SD
Importance 90 2.34 1.11 102 2.18 1.01 114 2.34 1.10
Motivation 90 3.06 .95 103 2.72 1.11 114 3.13 .93
Newsworthiness 91 3.53 .98 103 2.87 1.14 113 3.49 1.13

F p value
Importance .84 .43
Motivation 5.10 .01
Newsworthiness 11.54 .00


Additional Bonferroni comparisons were conducted to extend the manipulation check of

the message frames. The comparison showed no significant difference in "motivation" or

"importance" between the three frames, but did show a significant difference in

newsworthinesss" between the health and economics message frames (p = .00) and economics

and scientific progress message frames (p = .00). The comparison did not show a significant









difference between the health and scientific progress message frames in regard to

newsworthinesss."

Tests of Hypotheses

Hypothesis testing focused on three independent variables (message frame, issue

involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology) and two dependent

variables (attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish).

HI: Attitudes toward argument quality of a positively valenced message will differ
significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural
biotechnology, and message frame.

To address H1, a three-way factorial ANOVA was conducted to examine the interaction of

the independent variables on attitudes toward argument quality. As illustrated in Table 4-16, the

interaction of message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural

biotechnology was not significant (F2,253 = 2.76, p = .07) on attitudes toward argument quality.

However, the three-way factorial ANOVA did indicate main effects for message frame (F1,253

5.65, p = .00), issue involvement (F1,253= 3.88, p = .05), and preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology (Fi,253 = 22.42, p = .00).

Table 4-16. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Attitudes toward Agricultural
Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality
Source df F p value
Message Frame 2 5.65 .00
Issue Involvement 1 3.88 .05
Preexisting Attitudes 1 22.42 .00
Message Frame Issue Involvement Preexisting Attitudes 2 2.76 .07


Post hoc analysis using the Bonferroni procedure examined the significant difference in

message frame and found a significant difference between the health and economics message

frames (p = .00) and economics and scientific progress message frames (p = .02). The









comparison did not show a significant difference between the health and scientific progress

message frames (p = 1.00). An overall means table provides a summary of attitudes toward

argument quality, split by high/low issue involvement, more positive/less positive preexisting

attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the assigned message frame (Table 4-17).

Table 4-17. Means for Attitudes Toward Argument Quality Split by High/Low Issue
Involvement, More Positive/ Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural
Biotechnology, and Message Frame
Message Frame High Issue Involvement Low Issue Involvement
More Positive Less Positive More Positive Less Positive
Attitudes Attitudes Attitudes Attitudes
Health 3.97 3.15 3.74 3.14
(26) (13) (23) (19)
Economics 3.46 3.03 3.23 2.93
(27) (15) (27) (20)
Scientific Progress 3.57 3.69 3.67 3.03
(39) (14) (22) (20)
Total 3.65 3.28 3.53 3.03
(92) (42) (72) (59)
Note: Frequencies are in parentheses.

H2: Attitudes toward likelihood to publish information presented in a positively valenced
message will differ significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude
toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame.

To address H2, a three-way factorial ANOVA was conducted to examine the interaction of

the independent variables on attitudes toward likelihood to publish. The three-way factorial

ANOVA for likelihood to publish found no significant interaction or main effects (Table 4-18);

therefore, H2 is not supported. Table 4-19 provides the means table for likelihood to publish split

by the two levels for issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural

biotechnology and the three message frames.









Table 4-18. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Attitudes Toward Agricultural
Biotechnology on Likelihood to Publish


F p value
2.40 .09


Message Frame
Issue Involvement
Preexisting Attitudes
Message Frame Issue Involvement Preexisting Attitudes


2.76
.049


Table 4-19. Means for Likelihood to Publish Split by High/Low Issue Involvement, More
Positive/ Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology, and Message
Frame


Message Frame


Health


Economics


Scientific Progress


Total


High Issue Involvement
More Positive Less Positive
Attitudes Attitudes


2.76
(25)
2.63
(23)
2.70
(37)
2.70
(85)


2.14
(12)
2.18
(15)
2.60
(10)
2.28
(37)


Low Issue Involvement


More Positive
Attitudes
2.95
(20)


1.97
(22)
2.41
(18)
2.43
(60)


Less Positive
Attitudes
2.52
(17)


1.83
(14)
2.36
(12)
2.26
(43)


Note: Frequencies are in parentheses.


H3: Subjects who are high in issue involvement and are presented with the scientific
progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those who
are low in issue involvement and receive either the economics or health frames.

It was hypothesized that subjects who were presented with the scientific progress frame

who were high in issue involvement (n = 53) would have more favorable attitudes toward

argument quality than those who were low in issue involvement and received either the

economics (n = 47) or health (n = 42) message frames. A two-way factorial ANOVA partially

supported this hypothesis (Table 4-20). The interaction of message frame and issue involvement


Source









was not significant (F2,262= .01, p value = .99), but the main effects were significant for message

frame (F1,262= 5.50, p value= .01) and issue involvement (F1,262= 4.70, p value= .03). Although

the interaction of message frame and issue involvement was not significant, visual inspection of

the means table indicated that the mean for attitudes toward argument quality was highest for

subjects exposed to the health frame with high issue involvement (M = 3.69, SD = .84), followed

by the hypothesized group subjects exposed to the scientific progress frame with high issue

involvement (M = 3.56, SD = .83).

Table 4-20. ANOVA for Message Frame and Issue Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality
Source df F p value
Message Frame 2 5.50 .01
Issue Involvement 1 4.70 .03
Message Frame Issue Involvement 2 .01 .99


H4: Subjects who have more positive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology and are
presented with the scientific progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward
argument quality than those who have less positive attitudes toward agricultural
biotechnology and receive either the economics or health frames.

It was expected that subjects exposed to the scientific progress frame who had more

positive preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology (n = 61) would have more

favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those with less positive attitudes and presented

with the economics (n = 35) or health (n = 32) message frames. A two-way factorial ANOVA

(Table 4-21) provides partial support for this hypothesis. The interaction between message frame

and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology was not significant (F2,271 = 2.04, p value = .13).

However, the ANOVA did indicate significant main effects for message frame (F1,271 = 6.59, p

value = .00) and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology (F1,271 = 28.52, p value = .00).









Table 4-21. ANOVA for Message Frame and Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on
Perceived Argument Quality
Source df F p value
Message Frame 2 6.59 .00
Preexisting Attitudes 1 28.52 .00
Message Frame Preexisting Attitudes 2 2.04 .13


Post hoc analysis using the Bonferroni procedure examined the significant difference in

message frame and found a significant difference between the health and economics message

frames (p = .00) and economics and scientific progress message frames (p = .01), but did not find

a significant difference between the health and scientific progress message frames (p = 1.00).

Visual inspection of the means table indicated that the mean for attitudes toward argument

quality was highest for subjects exposed to the health frame with more positive preexisting

attitudes (M = 3.89, SD = .70), followed by the hypothesized group subjects exposed to the

scientific progress frame with more positive preexisting attitudes (M = 3.63, SD = .81).

H5: For those who receive the scientific progress frame, subjects who are high in issue
involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than subjects who
are low in issue involvement.

It was expected that for subjects who were presented with the scientific progress frame,

those who were high in issue involvement (n = 53) would have more favorable attitudes toward

argument quality than those low in issue involvement (n = 42). An independent samples t-test

(Table 4-22) found no significant difference between the two groups (t = -1.23, p value = .22),

providing no support for this hypothesis. The mean attitudes toward argument quality score for

those low in issue involvement was 3.37 (SD = .69) compared to the mean score of 3.56 (SD =

.83) for those high in issue involvement.









Table 4-22. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between High/Low
Issue Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality for Subjects Who Received
Scientific Progress Message Frame

N Mean SD t df p value
Low Issue Involvement 42 3.37 .69 -1.23 95 .22
High Issue Involvement 55 3.56 .83

H6: For those who receive the health frame, subjects who are low in issue involvement
will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than subjects who are high in
issue involvement.

It was hypothesized that for subjects who were presented with the health frame, those who

were low in issue involvement (n = 42) would have more favorable attitudes toward argument

quality than those high in issue involvement (n = 39). An independent samples t-test (Table 4-

23) found no significant difference between the two groups and indicated no support for this

hypothesis. In fact, the mean for those high in issue involvement (M = 3.70, SD = .84) was

greater than those low in issue involvement (M = 3.47, SD = .70).

Table 4-23. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between High/Low
Issue Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality for Subjects Who Received
Health Message Frame
N Mean SD t df p value
Low Issue Involvement 42 3.47 .70 -1.29 79 .20
High Issue Involvement 39 3.70 .84

H7: A combination of issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural
biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in
attitudes toward argument quality.

To test H7, multiple linear regression was conducted with issue involvement, preexisting

attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, message frame serving as predictors of attitudes

toward argument quality. Table 4-24 displays the results of this analysis and provides support for

the hypothesis. The model is significant (F3,264 = 15.46, p value = .00) and explained 14.1%

(adjusted R2) of the variance in perceived argument quality. Of the significant predictors, the









beta weights for preexisting attitudes (p = .33) and issue involvement ( =. 18) indicate a

positive relationship between each of these variables and attitudes toward argument quality.

Table 4-24. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Perceived
Argument Quality
Argument Quality Adjusted R2

Explanatory Variable B SE B p v .141
value
Message Frame -.04 .06 -.04 .45
Preexisting Attitudes .31 .05 .33 .00
Issue Involvement .27 .08 .18 .00

H8: A combination of issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural
biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in
likelihood to publish the information.

Similar to the previous hypothesis, H8 expects that the combination of three independent

variables will explain the greatest variance in likelihood to publish. Table 4-25 displays the

results of this analysis and provides support for the hypothesis. The model is significant (F3,224

3.57, p value = .02), but only explains 3.3% (adjusted R2) of the variance in likelihood to

publish. Preexisting attitudes was a significant predictor of attitudes toward argument quality and

the positive beta weight (p = .18) indicates a positive relationship.

Table 4-25. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Likelihood to
Publish.
Argument Quality Adjusted R2

Explanatory Variable B SE B B v .033
value
Message Frame -.07 .10 -.04 .50
Preexisting Attitudes .28 .10 .18 .01
Issue Involvement .23 .15 .10 .12









Post Hoc Analyses

The data collected in this study allowed for additional data analysis using independent

samples t-tests, ANOVA, and regression. These analyses provided additional insight into the

data and possible implications beyond those hypothesized apriori.

Message Frame Identification

In reference to the lack of clarity between the scientific progress and health message

frames, a three-way AVOVA was conducted using the message frames as subjects identified

them instead of the randomly assigned message condition. The independent variables of issue

involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology were also included to

explore the interaction of subject-identified message frames on attitudes toward argument

quality. Subjects had four options to identify the frame: health, economics, scientific progress, or

unknown. Table 4-26 displays the results of this ANOVA which found a significant three-way

interaction between the message frame identified by subjects, issue involvement, and attitudes

toward agricultural biotechnology (F3,264= 3.24, p value = .01) on attitudes toward argument

quality. The main effects of message frame (F3,264 = 8.57, p value = .00) and attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology (F1,264 = 11.20, p value = .00) were also significant, but the issue

involvement main effect was not significant (F1,264 = 2.55, p value = .11).

Table 4-26. ANOVA for Subject-Identified Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Preexisting
Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality
Source df F p value
Subject-Identified Message Frame 3 8.57 .00
Preexisting Attitudes 1 11.20 .00
Issue Involvement 1 2.55 .11
Message Frame Issue Involvement Attitudes 3 3.24 .01









Attitudes and Message Frame

As outlined in hypotheses 5 and 6, the influence of high or low issue involvement did not

demonstrate a significant difference in attitudes toward message quality for the health and

scientific progress frames. However, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology did

have an influence on message quality between those who were more positive or less positive in

their attitudes for two of the three messages (Table 4-27). Independent samples t-tests showed

that for subjects who received the health message frame, there was a significant difference

between those who were more positive or less positive in their preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology (t = -4.96, p value = .00). This significant difference was also found

for those who received the economics frame (t = -2.46, p value = .02), but there was not a

significant difference between the two groups for those who received the scientific progress

message (t = -1.98, p value = .05).

Table 4-27. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between More
Positive/Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived
Argument Quality Spilt by Message Frame
Message Frame N Mean SD t df p value
Health Less Positive 33 3.14 .65 -4.96 85 .00
More Positive 54 3.89 .70

Economics Less Positive 37 2.94 .75 -2.46 90 .02
More Positive 55 3.35 .78

Scientific Progress Less Positive 35 3.32 .69 -1.98 96 .05
More Positive 63 3.63 .83


In addition to preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, subjects also

provided their attitudes toward the message topic of peanut allergen research. An independent

samples t-test (Table 4-28) to compare less positive and more positive subjects in terms of









preexisting attitudes found a significant difference on attitudes toward the message topic (p =

.00).

Table 4-28. Independent Samples T-Test for Significant Differences Between Preexisting
Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology Groups and Attitudes Toward
Message Topic
N Mean SD t df p value
Less Positive 112 3.98 .75 -8.29 292 .00
More Positive 182 4.60 .53

Need for Cognition

Need for cognition scores were collected in the instrument, but were not included in the

hypothesis tests. Subjects were split into high and low need for cognition based on a mean split

(M = 3.95, SD = .51) resulting in 146 (47.4%) low need for cognition subjects and 127 (41.2%)

high need for cognition subjects. Independent samples t-test to compare low and high need for

cognition subjects found no significant difference on attitudes toward argument quality (p = .15).

Post hoc analysis using multiple linear regression included need for cognition score with the

independent variables of issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural

biotechnology, and message frame to predict perceived argument quality score. This regression

model (Table 4-29) was significant (F4,245 = 11.59, p value = .00) and explained 14.7% of the

variance in the perceived argument quality score.

Table 4-29. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Perceived
Argument Quality, Including Need for Cognition
Argument Quality Adjusted R2

Explanatory Variable B SE B B a.147
value
Message Frame -.04 .06 -.04 .49
Attitudes .28 .06 .30 .00
Issue Involvement .26 .09 .17 .00
Need for Cognition -.25 .09 -.16 .01









Need for cognition was also included in a 4-way factorial ANOVA to examine the

interaction of message frame, issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural

biotechnology, and need for cognition on attitudes toward argument quality. As Table 4-30

shows, the 4-way interaction was not significant (F2,246 = 1.75, p= .18), but the ANOVA did find

significant main effects for the message frame (F2,246 = 6.57, p = .00) and preexisting attitudes

toward agricultural biotechnology (F1,246 = 3.09, p = .08). A Bonferroni procedure to explore the

significant difference between message frames indicated a significant difference between the

health and economics frames (p = .00) and scientific progress and economics frames (p = .01),

but the health and scientific progress frames were not significantly different (p = 1.00).

Table 4-30. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, Preexisting Attitudes Toward
Agricultural Biotechnology, and Need for Cognition on Perceived Argument Quality
Source df Fp
value
Message Frame 2 6.57 .00
Preexisting Attitudes 1 24.49 .00
Issue Involvement 1 3.09 .08
Need for Cognition 1 .32 .57
Message Frame Issue Involvement Attitudes Need for Cognition 2 1.75 .18


Differences Between Organization Membership

Post hoc analyses were conducted to explore what differences existed between members of

AAEA and NASW. As mentioned previously, 75 respondents were members of AAEA (24.4%)

and 215 (69.8%) were members of NASW, while the remaining 18 (5.8%) respondents said they

were not members of either organization. Means for average issue involvement score were

compared using an independent samples t-test to determine if there were any differences

according to organization membership. Table 4-31 demonstrates there were significant

differences in means for issue involvement based on membership in AAEA or NASW.









Respondents who were members of AAEA had higher average issue involvement scores than

members of NASW. This was originally hypothesized because the issue involvement question

dealt with reporting on food and natural resource issues, which best describes the topics

members of AAEA would report on most often. Although the mean issue involvement scores are

statistically significantly different for the two groups, the mean scores for AAEA (M = 4.39) and

NASW (M = 4.20) are on the higher end of the scale indicating an overall interest in food and

natural resource topics for both groups. This result demonstrates agricultural topics have the

potential to be covered by different types of reporters, but issue involvement does vary and may

be an influence when persuading communicators as to the newsworthiness of agricultural issues.

Table 4-31. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between
Organization Membership and Issue Involvement
N Mean SD t df p value
AAEA 73 4.39 .51 2.54 275 .01
NASW 204 4.20 .56
Note: AAEA = American Agricultural Editors' Association and NASW = National
Association of Science Writers.


Preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology between members of the

professional communication organizations were also significantly different as shown in Table 4-

32. AAEA members indicated more positive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology (M =

4.39, SD = .71) than NASW members (M = 3.80, SD = .82). Again, both means were above the

midpoint on the 1 to 5 scale indicating more positive preexisting attitudes toward agricultural

biotechnology overall.









Table 4-32. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization
Membership and Preexisting Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology
N Mean SD t df p value
AAEA 74 4.39 .71 5.472 282 .00
NASW 210 3.80 .82
Note: AAEA = American Agricultural Editors' Association and NASW = National
Association of Science Writers.


Further data analysis examined what frames were randomly assigned to members of each

organization. Table 4-33 shows the proportion of subjects who received each message frame

divided by their membership organization. Comparison of the percentage of subjects for each

frame indicated similar distribution across frames and between groups.

Table 4-33. Percentage of Assigned Frame Split within Membership Organization
Assigned Frame
Membership Organization Health Economics Scientific Progress
AAEA 25.3 37.3 37.3
(19) (28) (28)
NASW 30.7 33.0 36.3
(66) (71) (78)
Total 29.3 34.1 36.6
(85) (99) (106)
Note: Frequencies are in parentheses. Missing N=18.


This data was further explored to discover whether or not members of the two

organizations were able to identify the frame to which they were assigned. Table 4-34 shows the

proportion of subjects who identified each frame divided by the membership organization. For

AAEA members, 68.4% (n = 13) correctly identified the health frame, 50% (n = 14) correctly

identified the economics frame, and 57.1% (n = 16) correctly identified the scientific progress

frame. For NASW members, 75.8% (n = 50) correctly identified the health frame, 73.2% (n =

52) correctly identified the economics frame, and 53.8% (n = 42) correctly identified the









scientific progress frame. Overall, NASW members were better able to correctly classify their

assigned frame. It appeared that AAEA members who received the economics frame were

confused on how to classify it. Only half of the subjects correctly identified the frame, while the

remaining half were divided between health (32.1%, n = 9) and scientific progress (14.3%, n =

4) frames. The scientific progress frame was also difficult for members of both organizations to

classify. For those who received scientific progress as their assigned message frame, 42.9% (n =

12) of AAEA members and 43.6% (n = 34) of NASW members classified it as the health frame.

This confusion may be attributed to the fact that the topic of peanut allergen research can be

viewed as a health concern and subjects chose the health frame accordingly.

Table 4-34. Classification of Message Frame within Membership Organization
Percent of Identified Frame
Assigned Frame Health Economics Scientific Don't Know
Progress
AAEA Health 68.4 .0 26.3 5.3
(13) (0) (5) (1)
Economics 32.1 50.0 14.3 3.6
(9) (14) (4) (1)
Scientific Progress 42.9 .0 57.1 .0
(12) (0) (16) (0)

NASW Health 75.8 3.0 18.2 3.0
(50) (2) (12) (2)
Economics 14.1 73.2 5.6 7.0
(10) (52) (4) (5)
Scientific Progress 43.6 .0 53.8 2.6
(34) (0) (42) (2)

Note: Frequencies are in parentheses. Missing N=18.


Beyond the independent variables, the two membership groups were also compared on the

dependent variables of attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish. Table 4-35









displays the results of an independent samples t-test that indicated a significant difference

between the groups in their attitudes toward argument quality. AAEA members were more

favorable in their attitudes toward the argument quality of the messages (M = 3.85, SD = .73)

than NASW members (M = 3.25, SD = .73).

Table 4-35. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between
Organization Membership and Attitudes Toward Argument Quality
N Mean SD t df p value
AAEA 72 3.85 .73 5.72 266 .00
NASW 196 3.25 .76
Note: AAEA = American Agricultural Editors' Association and NASW = National
Association of Science Writers.


Upon further examination, a significant difference was found between each group's mean

scores for attitudes toward argument quality for each frame (Table 4-36). AAEA members

indicated significantly more favorable attitudes toward argument quality for each of the message

frames than NASW members. For both groups, the health frame received the most favorable

attitudes toward argument quality with the AAEA mean score of 4.15 (SD = .63) and the NASW

mean score of 3.41 (SD=.75).

Table 4-36. Independent Samples T-tests for Significant Differences Between Organization
Membership and Attitudes Toward Argument Quality of Message Frames
AAEA NASW
Message Frame N Mean SD N Mean SD t df p
value
Health 18 4.15 .63 63 3.41 .75 3.83 79 .00
Economics 26 3.55 .83 65 3.03 .73 2.97 89 .00
Scientific Progress 28 3.93 .61 68 3.33 .77 3.72 94 .00


Finally, the two membership groups' scores on the likelihood to publish index were

compared. An independent samples t-test found a significant difference between the groups on









this dependent variable (Table 4-37) with AAEA members providing a more favorable mean

score (M = 3.11, SD = 1.30) than NASW members (M = 2.23, SD = 1.16).


Table 4-37. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between
Organization Membership and Likelihood to Publish
N Mean SD t df p value
AAEA 62 3.11 1.30 4.89 224 .00

NASW 164 2.23 1.16
Note: AAEA = American Agricultural Editors' Association and NASW = National
Association of Science Writers.

Table 4-38 shows the mean likelihood to publish score for each message frame split by

membership group. Again, there is a significant difference between the two groups' scores for

likelihood to publish for each message frame with health receiving the most favorable mean

score for both AAEA members (M = 3.26, SD = 1.40) and NASW members (M = 2.42, SD =

1.21). It is also interesting to note that AAEA members' lowest mean score was for the

economics frame (M = 2.75, SD = 1.34), which was still greater than any mean score provided

by NASW members regardless of the message frame.


Table 4-38. Independent Samples T-tests for Significant Differences Between Organization
Membership and Likelihood to Publish for Each Message Frame
AAEA NASW
Message Frame N Mean SD N Mean SD t df p
value
Health 18 3.26 1.40 53 2.42 1.21 2.43 69 .02
Economics 21 2.75 1.34 56 2.01 1.02 2.60 75 .01
Scientific Progress 23 3.32 1.15 55 2.28 1.22 3.47 75 .00



Index Development

Additional post hoc analysis further explored the construction of the issue involvement and

attitudes toward argument quality indexes. The issue involvement scale was based on nine items,









which had an alpha reliability coefficient of a = .87. Through factor analysis, principal

component analysis found that the items loaded to form two components (Table 4-39).


Table 4-39. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Issue Involvement
Items Component 1


Component 2


Important/Unimportant* .59 .38
Boring/Interesting .75 -.05
Relevant/Irrelevant* .55 .415
Exciting/Unexciting* .79 -.38
Appealing/Unappealing* .79 -.32
Fascinating/Mundane* .79 -.36
Worthless/Valuable .67 .46
Involving/Uninvolving .77 -.32
Not needed/Needed .64 .58
Eigenvalue 4.52 1.33
Percent of Variance Explained 50.18 14.80
Cronbach's Alpha .87
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. *Item was reverse coded.

Zaichkowsky (1994) also found two subscales during the development of the 10-item

Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) that was used to measure issue

involvement in the current study. The items of interesting, appealing, fascinating, exciting, and

involving were found to be based more on emotions and could be loaded to form an "affective"

issue involvement scale. The items of important, relevant, valuable, means a lot to me, and

needed appeared to be more rational in nature and could be loaded together to form a "cognitive"

issue involvement scale (Zaichkowsky, 1994). During the pilot testing process, the means a lot to

me item was removed to improve alpha reliability. Follow-up principal component analysis used

these individual items to form the cognitive and affective issue involvement scales, which then

loaded as unidimensional constructs.









The cognitive issue involvement index (Table 4-40) had an alpha reliability coefficient of a

=.74 and explained 57.31% of the items' variance. The scale had a range of standard deviations

from .51 to .72. The discrimination index for the cognitive issue involvement scale (Table 4-41)

showed the corrected item-total correlation ranged from .47 to .63. The grand mean for the

cognitive issue involvement scale was 3.55 (SD = .34).

Table 4-40. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Cognitive Issue Involvement
Items Component 1
Important/Unimportant* .70
Relevant/Irrelevant* .70
Worthless/Valuable .79
Not needed/Needed .839


Eigenvalue 2.29
Percent of Variance Explained 57.31
Cronbach's Alpha .74
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. *Item was reverse coded.



Table 4-41. Cognitive Issue Involvement Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics
Corrected Item-
Mean SD Total Correlation


Alpha if
Item
Deleted


Important/Unimportant* 4.76
Relevant/Irrelevant* 4.69

Worthless/Valuable 4.62

Not needed/Needed 4.75

Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1
was reverse coded. Valid N=296.


.53 .47
.72 .49

.60 .58

.51 .63

important and 5 = unimportant. *Item


The affective issue involvement index (Table 4-42) had an alpha reliability coefficient of a

=.89 and explained 69.18% of the items' variance. Standard deviations for this index ranged

from .88 to .96, and the discrimination index (Table 4-43) showed the corrected item-total


.71
.72
.65

.63









correlation ranged from .62 to .77. The grand mean for the affective issue involvement scale was

3.21 (SD =.64).

Table 4-42. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Affective Issue Involvement
Items Component 1
Boring/Interesting .74
Exciting/Unexciting* .87
Appealing/Unappealing* .85
Fascinating/Mundane* .86
Involving/Uninvolving .83
Eigenvalue 3.46
Percent of Variance Explained 69.18
Cronbach's Alpha .89
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. *Item was reverse coded.


Table 4-43. Affective Issue Involvement Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics
Corrected Item-
Mean SD Total Correlation


Boring/Interesting 4.27
Exciting/Unexciting* 3.62
Appealing/Unappealing* 3.92
Fascinating/Mundane* 3.71
Involving/Uninvolving 3.83
Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1
reverse coded. Valid N = 293.


Alpha
Item
Delete


.90 .62
.92 .74
.88 .75
.96 .77
.93 .72
boring and 5 = interesting. *Item was


if

:d
.89
.85
.86
.85
.86


Factor analysis was also utilized to further investigate the attitudes toward argument

quality index duringpost hoc analysis. The index used in the current study was developed using

seven items adapted from a 10-item index that Lundy (2004) utilized to measure argument

quality attributes and the three items drawn from Schmierbach's (2005) index of

newsworthiness. In the current study, the 10-item index had an alpha reliability coefficient of a =









.92. Principal component analysis found these used individual items loaded as two distinct

constructs (Table 4-44).

Table 4-44. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Perceived Argument Quality
Items Component 1 Component 2
Insignificant/Significant .76 .49
Irrelevant/Relevant .74 .47
Untimely/Timely .66 .50
Not Believable/Believable .76 -.33
Low Quality/High Quality .81 .08
Not Convincing/Convincing .83 -.20
Not Credible/Credible .78 -.45
Unreasonable/Reasonable .79 -.31
Inconclusive/Conclusive .76 .16
Inaccurate/Accurate .64 -.35
Eigenvalue 5.72 1.31
Percent of Variance Explained 57.18 13.11
Cronbach's Alpha .92
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.


The two subscales that were included to develop the attitudes toward argument quality

index were then divided back into the 3-item and 7-item scales. These subscales then loaded as

unidimensional constructs. The 3-item newsworthiness index of significant, relevant, and timely

(Table 4-45) had an alpha reliability coefficient of a= .87 and explained 79.23% of the items'

variance. This index had standard deviations ranging from 1.09 to 1.17. The discrimination index

(Table 4-46) showed the corrected item-total correlation ranged from .66 to .80. The grand mean

for the affective issue involvement scale was 3.01 (SD = .90).









Table 4-45. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Newsworthiness Index
Items Component 1
Insignificant/Significant .92
Irrelevant/Relevant .92
STntimpl u/Timplh .83


Eigenvalue
Percent of Variance Explained 7C
Cronbach's Alpha
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.


2.38
).23
.87


Table 4-46. Newsworthiness Scale Inter-item Consi


Mean


Insignificant/Significant 3.28
Irrelevant/Relevant 3.53
Untimely/Timely 3.33

Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1 =
= 300.


stency Statistics
Corrected Item- Alpha if
SD Total Correlation Item
Deleted
1.17 .79 .77
1.09 .80 .77
1.15 .66 .89

insignificant and 5 = significant. Valid N


The 7-item argument quality subscale (Table 4-47) had an alpha reliability coefficient of a

=.90 and explained 63.71% of the items' variance. Standard deviations for this index ranged

from .80 to 1.17, and the discrimination index (Table 4-48) showed the corrected item-total

correlation ranged from .64 to .82 The grand mean for the affective issue involvement scale was

2.76 (SD = .65).

Table 4-47. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Seven-Item Argument Quality Index
Items Component 1
Not Believable/Believable .80
Low Quality/High Quality .79
Not Convincing/Convincing .87
Not Credible/Credible .86
Unreasonable/Reasonable .83









Table 4-47. Continued
Items
Inconclusive/Conclusive
Inaccurate/Accurate
Eigenvalue 4.46
Percent of Variance Explained 63.71
Cronbach's Alpha .90
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.


Component 1
.72
.69


Table 4-48. Seven-Item Argument Quality Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics
Corrected Item-
Mean SD Total Correlation


Not Believable/Believable 3.96

Low Quality/High Quality 3.13

Not Convincing/Convincing 3.25

Not Credible/Credible 3.74
Unreasonable/Reasonable 3.86
Inconclusive/Conclusive 2.69
Inaccurate/Accurate 3.52

Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1
Valid N= 284.


Al

Dc


.95 .71
1.17 .72

1.11 .82

.97 .78
.91 .75
1.15 .64
.80 .59

not believable and 5 = believable.


pha if
[tem
elected

.89
.89

.87

.88
.88

.90
.90









CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION

Overview

Research suggests that the American public has a limited understanding of science and

specifically its application in agricultural pursuits. The media are the public's primary source of

current information regarding science information, but provide limited coverage of agricultural

topics. Those within the agricultural industry charged with communicating about new and

possibly controversial agricultural issues such as agricultural biotechnology can utilize message

frames to influence public opinion through media coverage. Traditionally, agricultural issues are

framed as positive versus negative or risk versus benefit. However, little empirical research has

been conducted to examine how the use of positively valenced message frames could affect

communicators' opinions toward the message and likelihood to publish the information.

This study utilized the ELM framework to examine preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology, issue involvement, and message frames on attitudes toward argument

quality and likelihood to publish information within the message. Three positively valenced

message frames (health, economics, and scientific progress) were constructed to communicate

the development of an allergen-free peanut through the use of agricultural biotechnology.

Accessible samples of AAEA and NASW members were randomly assigned to receive one of

the messages, which featured a distinct message frame.

Chapter 4 provided data analyses and results, which are based on 308 subjects for an

overall response rate of 24.8%. Seventy-five (24.4%) were AAEA members and 215 (69.8%)

were NASW members. The remaining 18 subjects (5.8%) did not identify themselves as

members of either organization. Subjects were 53.2% (n = 164) female and 41.6% (n = 128)

male with a mean age of 49.9 years old. Subjects had either a graduate or professional degree









(57.5%, n = 177) or at least a four-year bachelor's degree (37.7%, n = 116). Most subjects

identified themselves as freelance writers (58.4%, n = 180). This chapter presents the key

findings, implications, limitations, recommendations for theory and practice, and conclusions.

Key Findings

Descriptive analysis of the data found a mean issue involvement score, to reporting on

food and natural resource topics, of 4.24 (where 5.0 is the upper limit) to the issue of reporting

food and natural resource topics indicating that, overall, subjects were highly involved with the

research area. As anticipated, members of AAEA and NASW did have significantly different

issue involvement scores, but the mean for both groups was on the upper end of the scale (AAEA

M = 4.39, NASW M = 4.20). Subjects also had more positive preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology overall with a mean score of 3.96 on a 1-5 scale.

A total of eight major hypotheses were tested in this study. Hypothesis 1 stated: Attitudes

toward argument quality of a positively valenced message will differ significantly as a function

of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame.

Hypothesis 1 was partially supported. Findings indicated that the three-way interaction of

message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology

was not significant. However, the main effect for each of these variables was significant. Those

with more favorable preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology had higher mean

scores on attitudes toward argument quality. Similarly, those who were high in issue

involvement had higher mean scores on attitudes toward argument quality. The frame alone also

had a significant influence on attitudes toward argument quality. Although the hypothesis was

not fully supported, visual inspection of the means table suggested that subjects who received the

health frame and were high in issue involvement with more positive preexisting attitudes

provided the highest mean score for attitudes toward argument quality. Conversely, subjects who









received the economics frame and were low in issue involvement with less positive preexisting

attitudes indicated the lowest mean score for attitudes toward argument quality.

Hypothesis 2 was similar to Hypothesis 1, but examined the second dependent variable:

Attitudes toward likelihood to publish information presented in a positively valenced message

will differ significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward

agricultural biotechnology, and message frame. Hypothesis 2 was not supported. The interaction

of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame

did not have a significant three-way interaction. Also, no main effects were found for any of the

independent variables.

Hypothesis 3 compared subjects in each of the message treatment conditions: Subjects who

are high in issue involvement and are presented i/th the scientific progress frame will have

more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those who are low in issue involvement

and receive either the economics or health frames. Hypothesis 3 was partially supported.

Findings indicated that a two-way interaction of message frame and issue involvement was not

significant, but the main effects for each of these variables was significant. Those who were high

in issue involvement had higher scores on attitudes toward argument quality. The message frame

alone also influenced attitudes toward argument quality. Visual inspection of the means table

indicated that the mean attitudes toward argument quality score was highest for subjects exposed

to the health message frame who were high in issue involvement. The hypothesized group of

subjects exposed to the scientific progress message frame with high issue involvement had the

next highest attitudes toward argument quality score.

Hypothesis 4 also compared recipients of the three message frame conditions and

postulated that: Subjects who have more positive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology and









are presented i ih the scientific progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward

argument quality than those who have less positive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology

and receive either the economics or health frames. Hypothesis 4 was partially supported.

Although the two-way interaction was not significant between message frame and preexisting

attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, the main effects were significant for each variable

on attitudes toward argument quality. Those who had more positive preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology had higher scores on attitudes toward argument quality. The message

frame alone also influenced attitudes toward argument quality. Visual inspection of the means

table, found that for subjects who had more positive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology,

the mean score for attitudes toward argument quality score was highest for subjects exposed to

the health message followed by the hypothesized group of subjects exposed to the scientific

progress message frame.

Hypothesis 5 focused only on subjects who received the scientific progress frame and

stated: For those who receive the scientific progress frame, subjects who are high in issue

involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than subjects who are

low in issue involvement. Hypothesis 5 was not supported because an independent samples t-test

found no significant difference between high and low issue involvement groups for those

exposed to the scientific progress frame.

Hypothesis 6, which focused only on the subjects exposed to the health frame, stated: For

those who receive the health frame, subjects who are low in issue involvement will have more

favorable attitudes toward argument quality than subjects who are high in issue involvement.

Hypothesis 6 was not supported. For subjects who received the health frame, an independent

samples t-test found no significant difference between high and low issue involvement groups.









Hypothesis 7 examined the various independent variables' ability to predict attitudes

toward argument quality and postulated that: A combination of issue involvement, preexisting

attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the

greatest variance in attitudes toward argument quality. Hypothesis 7 was supported. The

multiple linear regression model with message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting

attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology was significant and explained 14.1% of the variance

in attitudes toward argument quality. The beta weight for preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology was .33, which means that for each unit increase in preexisting

attitudes, the score on attitudes toward argument quality increased by .33 (t = 5.68, p = .00). In

addition, the beta weight for issue involvement was .18 meaning that with each unit increase in

issue involvement score, attitudes toward argument quality increased by .18 (t = 3.21, p = .00).

Hypothesis 8 examined the various independent variables' ability to predict attitudes

toward the second dependent variable of likelihood to publish and stated: A combination of issue

involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the scientific progress

frame will explain the greatest variance in likelihood to publish the information. Hypothesis 8

was supported. Although the multiple linear regression model with message frame, issue

involvement, and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology was significant, it only

explained 3.3% of the variance in attitudes toward likelihood to publish. In this model,

preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology was a significant predictor of attitudes

toward argument quality. The positive beta weight of. 18 (t = 2.70, p = .01) means that with each

unit increase in preexisting attitudes, the score on attitudes toward argument quality increases by

.18.









Implications

The results of this study provide several significant theoretical and practical implications.

Prior studies have researched framing messages within the ELM framework by comparing

positive and negative frames and found that positive frames were more effective in persuading

individuals with low issue involvement than the use of negative frames (Maheswaran & Meyers-

Levy, 1990; Donovan & Jalleh, 2000). The current study explored the use of three positively

valenced message frames and found that issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology influenced attitudes toward argument quality, but had little impact on

likelihood to publish. These findings further the empirical work to examine framing and the

ELM, and contribute to the agricultural communications discipline by illustrating how

agricultural communicators can effectively utilize frames to improve media coverage and public

awareness of agricultural issues.

In previous ELM studies, argument quality was not a commonly researched construct

(Areni & Lutz, 1988). However, argument quality is an important part of the persuasive

communication process because it can influence thoughts and which route to persuasion is

utilized (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). The current study treated attitudes toward argument quality as

a dependent variable because it was necessary to gain a better understanding of how

communicators identify argument quality, which can then be applied to produce more effective

persuasive messages. Based on the results of this study, the frames did differ in terms of the

subjects' attitudes of argument quality. Certain frames (health and scientific progress) were

viewed as higher in perceived argument quality, which indicated that the frame can promote

attitudes toward argument quality because some frames are more salient for certain

communicators. This implies that in order to improve media coverage of certain topics,









practitioners should pay attention when tailoring the news messages to develop those that are

most "attractive" for the intended audience.

Within the ELM, issue involvement is a measure of how much importance message

recipients give to a persuasive message (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979). When issue involvement is

high, people are more likely to dedicate cognitive effort to develop opinions of the issue and

evaluate the issue-relevant arguments (Petty Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981). In the present study,

the mean issue involvement score indicated a skew toward higher issue involvement and no

difference was found between those categorized as low or high issue involvement on their

attitudes toward argument quality. In cases such as this, when issue involvement is already at a

high level, it is important to utilize messages that contain issue-relevant arguments to support

evaluation of the persuasive communication.

Results of this study suggest that while frames do make a difference in terms of attitudes

toward argument quality, they are not solely responsible for the likelihood information will be

published. The mean for the dependent variable of likelihood to publish might have been lower

than expected because whether or not something is published is often not a straightforward

decision. This may be attributed to where the topic of agricultural biotechnology currently is

within the issue-attention cycle. Other agricultural issues are taking precedence during this

election year such as the farm bill, food safety, and alternative fuels. The mean may also be low

because many other factors influence a message's news value including human interest,

prominence of the issue, number of people affected, controversy or conflict, uniqueness,

proximity, timeliness, and locality (Shoemaker & Reese, 1991). The message frame alone may

have some impact on drawing journalists' attention (Dunwoody, 1992), but the results of the









current study found that the frame is not solely predictive of whether or not something may be

presented in the media.

In the data analysis process, the inability to find significant three-way interactions between

message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology

illustrated the difficulty in developing frames that are salient for the intended message recipient.

Although the message frames developed apriori were deemed identifiable and salient during the

message development and testing process with a panel of experts and individuals who are

responsible for developing messages as a part of their professional careers, subjects did not

always associate the intended frame with the one they received. However, post hoc analysis for

the three-way ANOVA with the subject-identified frame was significant, which indicates that

how message recipients interpret the frame was more important than how the frame was intended

to appear. This implies that communicators who develop messages with specific frames may

have difficulty in tailoring them appropriately in order to reach their audience and be perceived

by that audience as the intended frame.

In furtherpost hoc analysis, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology made a

difference in attitudes toward of argument quality for those who received the health and

economics message frames, but not for recipients of the scientific progress frame. This implies

that preexisting attitudes toward a topic can have an impact on how certain frames are judged for

argument quality. Also, examination of the less positive/more positive groups for preexisting

attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology found a significant difference in their attitudes

toward the message topic of peanut allergen research. Subjects who had more positive

preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology indicated significantly more favorable

attitudes toward the message topic than subjects who had less positive preexisting attitudes. This









further illustrates the important role message recipients' attitudes have on the evaluation of

persuasive messages.

Need for cognition was examined during post hoc analysis and was found to be a

significant predictor of attitudes toward argument quality when included in a regression model

with issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and message

frame. However, the issue involvement and preexisting attitude variables were stronger

predictors of attitudes toward argument quality and further justify identifying these audience

member characteristics as they influence how persuasive messages are evaluated.

Members of the two communication organizations (AAEA and NASW) differed

significantly in their issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology,

attitudes toward argument quality, and likelihood to publish. Members of the organizations are

all communicators, but these findings imply that they do vary in key characteristics that may

influence how they interpret positively framed messages. It may be more difficult to persuade

general science writers, who may have less favorable opinions about agricultural biotechnology,

to publish information that is presented with the use of positive frames. In fact, post hoc analysis

to explore the message frames' influence on attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to

publish for members of each organization found significant differences between the two groups.

Members of AAEA consistently indicated more favorable attitudes toward argument quality and

likelihood to publish for each message frame. Although the topic of peanut allergen research

extends beyond production agriculture and incorporates agricultural science, NASW members

were still less favorable in their evaluations of the framed messages when compared to AAEA

members. Overall, the health frame received the most favorable scores on attitudes toward

argument quality and likelihood to publish, which implies that this message frame may be the









most effective way to communicate about new agricultural technologies, including

biotechnology.

The factor analysis procedure indicated that the issue involvement index contained two

subscales affective issue involvement and cognitive issue involvement (Zaichkowsky, 1994).

These subscales indicate that perceptions of issue involvement are based on both rational and

emotional evaluation. The attitudes toward argument quality index was also examined using

factor analysis, which identified two subscales defined as the newsworthiness index and the

seven-item argument quality index. This finding implies that the index requires additional

refinement to identify what items best describe how media professionals form attitudes toward

argument quality.

Limitations

The exploratory nature of this study provides the opportunity for future research in the

areas of framing within the ELM, persuasive communication development, and agricultural

communication, but several limitations do exist. The first limitation is that results are limited to

members of the two organizations (AAEA and NASW) that comprised the accessible sample.

Members of these organizations may differ from other communicators due to selection bias that

encouraged them to join the organization. These subjects were also all rather high in issue

involvement, which could be attributed to the self-selection nature of the survey where only

those who were somewhat interested in or involved with the topic of peanut allergen research

mentioned in the pre-notice letter and e-mail announcement would feel compelled to complete

the study.

Although this sample was more appropriate than using a surrogate population, the sample

was difficult and time-consuming to access. The response rate of 24.8% was similar to other

studies of journalists and communicators through the use of online surveys, but it still presents a









potential for nonresponse error. Chapter 4 addressed this potential for error through the

comparison of early and late responders, which were similar for the key independent variables

and most of the demographic characteristics. Chi-square tests did find a significant difference for

the membership (AAEA or NASW) and the news organization category of "communication

department." The difference in membership was anticipated because AAEA members were

expected to have higher levels of issue involvement with reporting food and natural resource

topics. The difference in "communication department" respondents may be attributed to the

option to select more than one news organization (to accommodate freelance writers). Some

respondents may have not identified with this category while others may have selected this with

another response option. This does indicate potential response error that should be addressed in

future research.

Another limitation of the study was the subjects' identification of the scientific progress

frame as the health frame. The identification of the message frame as health may be justified

because the topic of peanut allergies can be classified as a health issue. Prior studies examining

the use of frames in persuasive communication have focused on positive versus negative frames

(Maheswaran & Meyers-Levy, 1990; Donovan & Jalleh, 2000). However, negative frames are

not always available for the persuasion topic and other frames may be better suited to

communicate the intended message. In this current study, the distinction between the health and

scientific progress frames was not evident to subjects although the manipulation check

conducted during message stimuli testing found the frames to be distinguishable. This limitation

illustrated the difficulty in developing message frames apriori and encourages the future study

of how communicators identify and define intentionally developed message frames.









This study used a one-time only exposure to the message frame. Strong attitudes are

resistant to change and require repeated exposure to persuasive messages to influence change

through the persuasion process (Perloff, 2003). The effect of the frames in this study were

measured based on a single exposure, whereas repeated exposure over an extended amount of

time would potentially discover a more significant influence of message frame on attitudes.

The research instrument was designed to be as concise as possible, but it still required

approximately 20 minutes to complete. Efforts were made to decrease the length of the

questionnaire by removing repetitive questions and index items that would improve alpha

reliability coefficients. The online questionnaire also included a progress bar so respondents

knew their progress through the instrument. Despite these efforts, several respondents failed to

answer every question or complete the final pages with the need for cognition index and

additional demographic questions. Several respondents commented that the survey was too long

or they did not have time to complete it. These obstacles were anticipated so important

demographic questions were included at the beginning of the instrument and efforts were made

to decrease the number of questions before respondents received their assigned message frames.

Future surveys of this audience should place important questions at the beginning and explain

why longer indexes are included in the instrument.

Finally, the use of an online survey could be viewed as a limitation due to potential self-

selection for those who are more comfortable completing an online survey. However, journalists

and communicators are increasingly utilizing the Internet and e-mail to do their jobs ("No One's

Yelling 'Copy' Anymore," 2001; Trumbo et al., 2001; Duke, 2002) indicating a familiarity with

this technology. Dillman (2007) noted that online or Web surveys are the latest development in

survey research and are becoming more frequently utilized. Conducting this study online allowed









subjects to receive the message frame as they often would from an online news room or e-mailed

press release.

Recommendations

Recommendations for Theory and Future Research

Results from this study suggest several areas of future research. From a theoretical

perspective, additional research to connect framing to the ELM should be conducted to examine

the development of persuasive communication messages. The results of this study found that the

apriori defined message frames did not have a significant interaction with issue involvement

and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology on attitudes toward argument quality

or likelihood to publish. However, when the subject-identified frames were considered, they did

have a significant interaction. This result should be further examined to discover how researchers

develop and embed message frames in persuasive communication messages and how the

intended audience interprets these frames.

In the current study, subjects had difficulty distinguishing between the health and scientific

progress message frames. Further research should explore if the difference is indeed negligible

or if it is only the case for the message topic utilized in the study. This research could also

expose subjects to all message frame stimuli so they can evaluate the appropriateness of each

frame to meet their preferred style of communication. Additional research should utilize the

tested message frames (health, economics, and scientific progress) with other agricultural topics

to explore their effect on attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish. In

particular, the effectiveness of the health message frame in producing more positive attitudes

toward argument quality should be further examined by applying it to other agricultural topics.

This future research direction could also explore what other types of positively valenced frames









can be used with agricultural science issues such as biofuels and food safety, which have been

covered in the media recently.

When forming attitudes toward argument quality, subjects relied more on preexisting

attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology than issue involvement. The influence of attitudes

should be examined through further investigation to explore how these attitudes affect persuasive

communication in other areas of agriculture. Also, issue involvement for subjects was rather high

in this study so additional research is needed to examine issue involvement when it is low to

explore what persuasive techniques and message frames are most effective.

Future research should analyze the qualitative data collected in the current study through

the thought-listing technique to examine the elaboration component of the ELM. This study did

not examine which route to persuasion was utilized, but further research could examine what

impact message frames have on encouraging the central or peripheral route to persuasion. This

data analysis would also explore the methodological feature of using online surveys to collect

open-ended responses. Subjects' responses to these items where typing was necessary should be

compared to traditional thought-listing procedures that requires handwriting on a paper

instrument.

Additionally, more research is needed to further test and refine the argument quality index

with respect to how media representatives develop perceptions of message quality. This area of

research should examine how news writers construct argument quality and test it as a dependent

factor. Factor analysis with the data in this study indicated two subscales for the argument

quality index, which need to be further tested with larger samples. Furthermore, the issue

involvement index was found to contain two subscales through factor analysis procedures. These









subscales should be used to perform exploratory analysis of the data to determine what, if any,

significant influence each has on other variables in the study.

Recommendations for future research also include examining how agricultural

communicators develop persuasive messages and what frames are most effective for various

topics. This study examined one area of agricultural science, agricultural biotechnology, while

many other topics are available for examination. Further investigation of the process agricultural

communicators utilize to develop persuasive messages would highlight effective methods and

improve the discipline.

Recommendations for Practitioners

In this study, issue involvement and preexisting attitudes had an important influence on the

persuasion process. An individual's issue involvement can impact the ability of a persuasive

message to develop supportive or contrary thoughts in regard to a message topic. Also, the

attitudes one has prior to receiving a persuasive message affect how the message arguments are

interpreted. To produce the most effective persuasive communication messages, practitioners

need to understand these characteristics about their audience members. It may be difficult to

change the issue involvement or preexisting attitudes, but the persuasive messages can be

adjusted over time to be more effective.

This study found that how communicators develop message frames is not always

consistent with how message recipients interpret these frames. For practitioners, this means that

more attention should be paid to the development of message frames that are consistent with the

messages' intentions. When charged with communicating scientific information to the media,

communicators need to tailor the messages so they are viewed as higher in argument quality that

will encourage journalists to pay attention to the information.









As mentioned in Chapter 1, the STEP program at the University of Florida is an example

of an effort to improve the dissemination of scientific results to a broader audience. The use of

online technology to do so is an effective method to reach journalists and other interested

audience members. As the results of this study found, respondents indicated e-mail was their

preferred method to receive press releases, followed by websites. With this preference in mind,

practitioners need to make an effort to develop e-mail lists of contacts for press releases and

incorporate the information within the text of the e-mail, not as an attachment. Additionally,

emphasis should be placed on how the message is framed within the press release to encourage

recipients to read it and utilize the information in subsequent communication.

Based on the results of this study, when developing communication messages, agricultural

communicators need to examine how they frame agricultural topics and explore the use of the

health frame. Most consumers are well removed from the agrarian lifestyle and view agriculture

as only a source of food. This heuristic should be nurtured by addressing the health angle of

agricultural topics. The media attention given to natural and organic foods today has made health

more salient for consumers and driven their desire to know more about what they eat.

It may also be necessary for agricultural communicators to utilize more than one message

frame for a particular topic depending on the intended receiver. Issue involvement and

preexisting attitudes are individual difference variables and communicators will be more

effective in having their messages used if they are able to tailor them, through the use of frames,

to effectively reach segmented audiences. The opportunity to positively frame agricultural

science topics, especially those that are controversial, in a way that encourages their adoption

would do much to improve the public's awareness and understanding of agricultural issues.









Conclusions

This study examined the interaction of issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward

agricultural biotechnology, and message frames on attitudes toward argument quality and

likelihood to publish. How persuasive messages are framed influences attitudes toward argument

quality, which is related to the amount of cognitive processing undertaken and the route to

persuasion utilized with the ELM. While issue involvement and preexisting attitudes are harder

to change, agricultural communicators can place emphasis on the development of effective

message frames that promote agricultural issues, including those that are more controversial

agricultural science topics such as agricultural biotechnology.

The results of this study indicate potential for agricultural communicators to utilize

persuasive communication to influence attitudes toward argument quality. While the likelihood

to publish information remains a complex decision-making process, communicators can be

proactive in making their messages more attractive to those who make the decision to include

information in the media by paying attention to how messages are framed.

When tailoring persuasive communication messages, practitioners still need to be

cognizant of their audience's individual differences and use this information to develop effective

messages and communication strategies. There will never be "one right way" to present scientific

information and constant attention is needed to produce messages that are most effective.









APPENDIX A
PRE-NOTICE LETTER















U F UNIVERSITY of 305RolfsHall
W O RI BPox 110540
Gainesville,, F. 32611-0540
IFAS Telephone: (352) 392-0502
IFAS t~Fax: (352) 392-9585
Department of Agricultural Education and Communication



Name
I 1 le 'i._ ai zai li.1 oi
Address
City, State Zip


April 30, 2008

Dear [insert first and last name]:

As a communicator, you have the responsibility to choose topics that are important and relevant for your
audience. Currently, the topic I L.- i 1, ',.- on science-related issues is of particular importance as our
society is :1. .... 11 .i _i 1i ,,r on advances in science and technology. In an effort to better understand how
findings related to the development of an allergen-free peanut should be communicated, it is imperative to
gain more knowledge of your opinions and perceptions of communication efforts.

To help gather this valuable information, you have been randomly selected to participate in a brief online
survey. In a few days, you will receive an e-mail from me with a link to an online survey. The e-mail will be
sent to [insert address here]. (Please check your junk mail or Spam filter if you do not receive this e-mail in
the next few days.)

If you would like to access this survey now, you can enter the following Web address:
LINK

The results of this survey will be used to enhance communication efforts in areas related to science. Your
response is crucial to the success of this study and will make a significant impact in better understanding
communicators' opinions and preferences regarding information about scientific advances. The results will
be kept confidential and reported in summary form only. If you have questions, please feel free to contact
me at the phone number or e-mail address listed below.

Thank you in advance for your participation and contribution to this study.

-I., ,. I i




Courtney Meyers
Ph.D. Candidate
(352) 392-4680
cameyers@ufl.edu







Figure A-1. Pre-notice letter









APPENDIX B
E-MAIL CONTACTS


Message testing e-mail
Hello member of the ACE Writing SIG,

My name is Courtney Meyers and I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida. For my
dissertation, I am conducting a research project to gain a better understanding of how
communicators perceive information regarding research being done on the development of a
hypoallergenic peanut.

In preparation for my study, I have developed an online press release about this research project.
As a professional communicator, your input is greatly appreciated in evaluating this message to
ensure it is an effective presentation of the information.

You were randomly selected from the ACE Writing SIG to receive a short survey. Please click
the link to be connected to a web-based questionnaire that contains the press release and a series
of questions regarding its content. This survey will take no more than 10 minutes to complete
and I would greatly appreciate your feedback by next Friday, March 21.

LINK

Thank you in advance for your feedback in the development of this communication material.

Sincerely,
Courtney Meyers









Survey contact e-mail
Subject: Brief Survey from University of Florida

Hello. My name is Courtney Meyers, and I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida
currently researching communicators' opinions and perceptions of how findings about the
development on an allergen-free peanut should be disseminated. Hopefully, you received a letter
in the mail informing you of this study.

You have been randomly selected to participate in a brief online survey. The results of this
survey will be used to enhance communication efforts related to peanut allergen research. Your
response is crucial to the success of this study and will make a significant impact in better
understanding communicators' opinions and preferences regarding information about scientific
advances.

I realize your time is incredibly valuable so this survey has been designed to be as concise as
possible and should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. Your responses will remain
confidential and all results will be presented in summary format. If you have any questions,
please contact me at 352-392-4680 or cameyers@ufl.edu.

To fill out the survey, please click on the link below:

LINK

Thank you for your feedback. It is much appreciated and will contribute significantly to this
research project and the future improvement of communication efforts.

Sincerely,
Courtney Meyers









Text for follow-up e-mail
Subject: Reminder: Brief Survey from University of Florida
Date

Last week a link to a web-based questionnaire was sent to you seeking your opinions and
perceptions of how findings about the development on an allergen-free peanut should be
disseminated.

If you have already completed the questionnaire, please accept my sincere thanks. If you have
not, please do so at your earliest convenience. I am especially grateful for your help because it is
only by asking people like you to share your experiences that we can enhance communication
efforts in related areas.

In case you have misplaced the original e-mail, a link to the survey is provided below.

LINK

Thank you again for your participation.

Sincerely,
Courtney Meyers









APPENDIX C
INSTRUMENT




















Dear Participant: We (Dr. Tracy Irani and Courtney Meyers, both of the Agricultural Education & Communication Department at the
University of Florida) are conducting research through a Web-based questionnaire to gather communicators' opinions and perceptions
of how findings about the development on an allergen-free peanut should be disseminated. The purpose of this study is to gain a
better understanding of how similar topics should be communicated, This survey will take less than 20 minutes to complete, Your
identity will remain confidential to the extent provided by law. Your participation is completely voluntary; you have the right to
withdraw consent at any time without consequence. There are no known risks associated with this study and there is no compensation
or other direct benefit to you for participation.

If you have any questions about this research, please contact the study supervisor, Dr, Tracy Irani at irani@ufl.edu or 352-392-0502
ext. 225. For questions regarding your rights as a research participant, please contact the UFIRB at 352-392-0433, IRS #200B-U-
0296.

By selecting the "Next" button you agree that you have read this statement and are aware of your rights,



If you have trouble accessing the survey...
In order to fully access the survey, you may need to enable JavaScript and cookies on your computer. If you have trouble moving
past the next page, please return to this page and click on the link below to find instructions on how to enable JavaScript and
cookies. We apologize for any inconvenience. We sincerely appreciate your input for this study.

Enable JavaScript and Cookies















1. Are you a member of the following organizations?
Yes No
American Agricultural O Q
Editors' Association
National Association of O O
Science Writers
2. Which of the following best describes your current position?
O Freelance
O Work for single publication as a writer
O Work for single publication as an editor
O Public relations practitioner or account executive
O President
O Owner

O Other (please indicate here if you work for a radio or television station)


3. What type of news organization do you work for? (mark all that apply)
O Daily newspaper
O Weekly newspaper
D Weekly magazine
| Monthly magazine
D Online journalism
D Broadcast journalism (TV/Radio)
D Communication division/department
D Public relations agency
Other (please specify)















Mark one number for each line below that best describes how you feel about the phrase: "I feel that reporting on
food and natural resource issues Is..." Each line has a different set of adjectives to gather your opinions about the
phrase.

Numbers "1" and "5" Indicate strong feelings, numbers "2" and "4" Indicate weaker feelings; and box "3" Indicates
that you are undecided.

I feel that reporting on food and natural resource issues is...

1.
Important Undecided Unimportant
1 2 3 4 5
0 O 0 0 0
2.
Boring Undecided Interesting
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
3.
Relevant Undecided Irrelevant
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
4.
Exciting Undecided Unexciting
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
5.
Appealing Undecided Unappealing
1 2 3 4 S
0 0 0 0 0

6.
Fascinating Undecided Mundane
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
7.
Worthless Undecided Valuable
1 2 3 4 S
0 0 0 0 0
8.
Involving Undecided Uninvolving
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
9.
Not Heeded Undecided Needed
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0















Indicate your attitude about the phrase: "I feel agricultural biotechnology Is..." Each line has a different set of
adjectives to gather your opinions about the phrase.

Numbers "1" and "5" Indicate strong feelings, numbers "2" and "4" Indicate weaker feelings; and box "3" Indicates
that you are undecided.

I feel agricultural biotechnology is...

1.
Foolish Undecided Wise
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
2.
Una ceptable Undecided Acceptable
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
3.
Unfavorable Undecided Favorable
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
4.
Wrong Undecided Right
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
5.
Bad Undecided Good
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
6.
Negative Undecided Positive
1 2 3 4 S
0 0 0 0 0













. .


1. Indicate how much you agree or disagree with each statement.
Neither Agree nor
Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree
Disagree
a. Both large and small O O O O
farmers reap economic
benefits from agricultural
biotechnology.
b. Agricultural 0 0 0
biotechnology lacks
adequate testing,
c. Agricultural 0 0 0
biotechnology is natural.
The process is just faster
and more precise than
traditional plant breeding,
d. Biotech foods are in O O O
development that will
improve human health
e. Agricultural 0 0 0 0
biotechnology will help to
feed the world's rapidly
expanding population.
f. Biotech crops improve O O O O
water quality, requiring
fewer chemicals than
traditional crops.
g, Biotech foods pose O O O O
unforeseen health risks.


Strongly Agree

0


0

0



0

0


0


0
O


















O
















Please take the next few minutes to read a brief press release,

Click on the link below and the press release will open in a separate window, Please read It carefully. When you are
finished, please re-read the press release then select the "Next" button on this screen to continue.

Press Release

















Now we have a few questions to ask you about the message you just read.

1. We are interested in the thoughts and feelings that went through your mind as
you read the press release. Please type your thoughts and feelings in the six blank
boxes below. Please list only one thought or feeling in a box, but you do not need to
fill in all the boxes. Just list whatever thoughts you had after reading the press
release.
Thought 1
Thought 2
Thought 3
Thought 4
Thought 5
Thought 6

2. Indicate your response to the following question.
Moderately
Not Important At All Very Important
1 2 Important 4
3
How important was the O O O O
press release message to
you personally?

3. Indicate your response to the following question.
not at all motivated somewhat motivated very motivated
1 2 3 4 5
How motivated were you O O O C 0
to read the press
release?

4. In your opinion, how would you classify the dominant theme/frame of the press
release? This theme/frame can be defined as a recurring or implicit idea that is
dominant in the message.

O Health

O Economics
O Scientific progress

SDon't know

5. Please indicate your response to the statement below.
Neither Agree nor
Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree
Disagree
I believe this press 0 0 0 0 0
release is newsworthy.















Indicate your attitude about the phrase: "I feel peanut allergen research Is..." Each line has a different set of
adjectives to gather your opinions about the phrase.

Numbers "1" and "5" Indicate strong feelings, numbers "2" and "4" Indicate weaker feelings; and box "3" Indicates
that you are undecided.

I feel peanut allergen research is...

1.
Foolish Undecided Wise
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
2.
Una ceptable Undecided Acceptable
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
3.
Unfavorable Undecided Favorable
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
4.
Wrong Undecided Right
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
5.
Bad Undecided Good
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
6.
Negative Undecided Positive
1 2 3 4 S
0 0 0 0 0















Mark one number on each line below that best describes how you feel about the press release message you just
read. Each line has a different set of adjectives to gather your opinions about the press release.

Numbers "1" and "5" Indicate strong feelings, numbers "2" and "4" Indicate weaker feelings; and "3" Indicates that
you are undecided.
The press release message I just read was...

1.
Insignificant Undecided Significant
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
2.
Irrelevant Undecided Relevant
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
3.
Untimely Undecided Timely
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
4.
Not Believable Undecided Believable
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
5.
Low Quality Undecided High Quality
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
6.
Not Convincing Undecided Convincing
1 2 3 4 S
0 0 0 0 0
7.
Not Credible Undecided Credible
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
8.
Unreasonable Undecided Reasonable
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0
9.
Inconclusive Undecided Conclusive
1 2 3 4 5
0 0 0 0 0




















Inaccu rate


Undecided


Accurate
















1. Mark one number below that best describes how you feel about each of the
following questions. Number "1" indicates highly unlikely and "5" indicates highly
likely. Number "3" is unsure or undecided. Number "6" indicates not applicable.
Highly Unlikely Undecided Highly Likely Not Applicable
1 2 3 4 5 6
a. How likely would you be O O A
to utilize the information
in the press release to
write or publish a story?
b. If you saw this story on O O O O O O
the AP wire service, how
likely would you be to
publish the information?
c, How likely would you be O O O O O O
to seek out a source to
write or publish a story
based on the information
in the press release?

2. Which of these is your most preferred method for receiving press releases?

O Fax
OMail
O Email (as an attachment direct to you)
O Web site (as a downloaded file)
O RSS Feed
Other (please specify)
k













Nee f C ito


1. Indicate how much you agree or disagree with each statement below.
Neither Agree nor
Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree
Disagree
a. I would prefer complex O O O O
to simple problems.
b. Thinking is not my O O O O
idea of fun.
c, I would rather do O O O O
something that requires
little thought than
something that is sure to
challenge my thinking
abilities.
d. I try to anticipate and 0 O O 0
avoid situations where
there is likely chance I will
have to think in depth
about something
e. I find satisfaction in O O O O
deliberating hard and for
long hours.
f. I only think as hard as O O O O
I have to.
p. I prefer to think about O O O
small, daily projects to
long-term ones.
h. I like tasks that 0 O O 0
require little thought once
I've learned them.
i. The idea of relying on O O O 0
thought to make my way
to the top appeals to me.
j. I really enjoy a task O O O O
that involves coming up
with new solutions to
problems.
k Learning new ways to O O O O
think doesn't excite me
very much.
1. I prefer my life to be O O O O
filled with puzzles that I
must solve.
m. The notion of thinking 0 O 0 O
abstractly is appealing to
me.
n. I would prefer a task O O O O
that is intellectual,
difficult, and important to
one that is somewhat
important but does not
require much thought.
o. I feel relief rather than O O O O
satisfaction after
completing a task that
required a lot of mental
effort.
p. It is enough for me fO O O O
that something gets the
job done; I don't care
how or why it works.
q. I usually end up O O O O
di[ih.armnnn ahout issues_


Strongly Agree

0
0
0




0



0

0

0

0

0

0


0

0

0

0




0



0


0

















ever when they do not
affect me personally.












1. What year were you born? Please type the entire year (YYYY).
[-I
2. What is your gender?
O male
O Female
3. What is the highest level of education you have completed?
O Less than High School
O High School Graduate orGED
O Some College
0 Two-year Associate's Degree
O Four-year Bachelor's Degree
O Graduate or Professional Degree
4. How many years have you worked as a professional in the communications field?
O less than 3 years
0 3-5 years
O 6-10 years
0 11-15 years
Q 16-20 years
O more than 20 years
5. What is your publication's circulation?
Q under 4,999
0 5,000-9,999
0 10,000-19,999
0 20,000-34,999
0 35,000-49,999
0 50,000-74,999
Q more than 75,000
0 don't work for single publication
O don't work for print publication (please provide viewership or listenership number)
I














6. Any additional comments about this survey (optional).


Thank you for completing the survey!









APPENDIX D
MESSAGE VERSIONS



















FOR InMMEDI ATE RELEASE NEWS RELEASE

Con tac i5t 1 W'r iter, 13 521 55-00l00


Recent study explores possibility of allergen-free peanuts

Gainesi ille Fla MNar ir pend-. etra time reading rood package label examininging gredient li't' and asking
re'tau rint what t. pe ot oil the\ ure to tr% their road 5She i, not doing this ji'-t Mr c ri.'-rit; -Ale takes these
steps to sa~ e her lile.

NMiar r. pr-en t- the 1.5 milli n people in the United Stai.t. h... -Lunrter Irom ptianut allergrie Pelanut Iallerprtes
aro t ,i. rn -q cor'mmon c.i .' iit-, 1 lihi -thrt' lti'rii aill_'rt.i reatl.ilI n1 ani'd uiri nt r a1 pt-r'ent It ta.'[l or na.ir-
fatal allergic reaction-_ each %ear.

Re-t-ar:ch in The journal o. Allergy. and Clini,:al Inirnunflk.og. reported that the pie\.alen:e of peanut allergies
in the United Statks doIublled i'ronm 0I 9' t. 2(112 ,and lthl amroun t or people di.bgno [.dJ \- ith pe.tarnut allk'rgic..
contil "U 'c to Irliar'e-.'

To .-l'I. [leio'.e people wholl < a il .d pea, jrs r i[tI lo heaillli co.Ieri i L.-i r'.et-ilil, 1q Fluiidtla c-ienli 'f i-_
In% e-tigatlng the po'-bllbili o. a h, poallergtnic peanut. Maria Gallu, asOic'iate proires-i-o in the department it
agronumnl', l-I researching \ halt char.acteri'-r.ti:- Il petnut-, caui]e pei-ple to be alllergic and ho\. i t create a peanut
that 11 edible eS\n lur thu-,e i\ ith peani t allergie-

ilirouli tleh e\alimatnion o c-ulTicared pea nut'. Q.all. ti-'id ou 'i i.of tie p'iea gn.t't tlidndiating the pre.eni.e
ort in allergen protein i, a.-. altered Peai-iiu l proteins actr ai tl i insrgators ocr an allergic re ation wi tiin liumnirs.
t% which cin range ir'..m minor di,--ionmOrt -.ich as a. -ikin r.1.h tuo a more -*eritmi- reVaction _-ih a'- d iriaLilIt
breathing and death.

In her ;tuds, Gall epxposed bloiid trnm peanut-allergic patient-, ti the altered peanut protein. and tiound that
the blood did not re..pond in the r\ p;,.il a.a,

In other \ ,.nrd. tie ptilent'' annibodie' did not recognize nne ot the prnrtein So in theory tli\ .ire noi a-
allergic to rth protein GCi'lo aid.

Nc. treatment te,,I.t, or peanut allergies .ind most people do not .outgrron th'e all..rzi; 0 er time The only' .ia
to .i oid an allergic reaction is tn aLoid products that nma\ contain peanuts- The limit at barred r ode include
peanut' and peanut butter and other roid t'hioe that nmightr contain eael cnuts such .1c cakes pie' breiaktfa-t
cereal-. ian to ds, *.ilad dre,,ing-. barbeque sauiCe. ice cream ind choi olire bar's.

















Figure D-1. Health Message

















FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


NEWS RELEASE


Contact: Staff Writer, (352) 'T'~-0000


Work on allergen-free peanuts may lead to substantial economic
growth for $800 million peanut industry

Gainesville, Fla. In economics, supply and demand is a basic principle that addresses the interaction
between what is available and what consumers want. A University of Florida sdentist is conducting research
that may increase the consumer demand for peanuts through the de\ elopment tt l al lergen-free nuts.

KMI ut under Lrling i? thai de- pile the increase in allergies, the sale of peanuts has remained ivlili~ ehl
stable," said Maria Gallo, associate professor in the delprtninent of agronomy. "So, the expectation is that a
safer peanut will most likely boost sales."

Gallo is researching what characteristics of peanuts cause people to be allergic and how to create a peanut
that is edible for those with peIarit allcrgics. With nearly 2 percentt of the J.S. population suffering from
peanut allergies, this research could lead to a hi p%,illeigenii. pe.inul that i\oul be safe for a larger number
of consumers.

In the United States, the average person consumes more than 6 pounds of peanuts and peanut products
each year. However, approximately 1.5 million people avoid peanuts entirely due to life-threatening peanut
allerIgiL- 'Ihe availability of hypoallergenic peanuts may lead to increased demand and should promote
-ign hi. min growth in the peanut commodity market, Gallo said.

Peanut production in the Uinited States contributes more than $800 million to the economy each year.

With the ulppnrt I.f peanut commodity groups and indlul rv repre.enlatili e' Gallo is looking to classical
plant breeding and genetic engineering as ways to alter the peanut's genetic structure in order to make it
ht p,.i.llergen n .

Although the development of an allergen-free peanut may be five to 20 years away, Gallo said consumers
and the peanut industry should benefit from the production of a h~ 'i I lerteni, peani t.


Figure D-2. Economics Message


1 1, f I f ) j
UfGENETICS UFFL 0 R IDA


















FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Staff Writer, (352) 555-0000


Scientific breakthrough may lead to allergen-free peanuts

Gainesville, Fla. Using the latest applications in biott hnlo a scientist at the University of Florida is
paving a new path to explore the possibility of allergen-free peanuts.

Maria Gallo, associate professor in the department of agronomy, is researching what characteristics of peanuts
cause people to Ibe .llr gik and how to create a peanut that is edible for those even with peanut allergies. This
research provides progress in an area of peanut research that, up to this point, had remained unknown, G.Cll
said.

One of the first to explore this research area, Gallo is looking to classical plant breed ing Inrd genetic
engineering techniques to alter the peanut's genetic structure in order to make it h\ p%',alleleni.. These new
peanuts would be genetically modified to contain genes that code for proteins that do not cause a llergl.
reactions.

"What we wanted to do was to investigate from the plant side of the equation," Gallo said. In the first step
of this research process, the examination of cultivated peanut, Gallo found an alteration in one of the peanut
genes that signifies the presence of an allergen.

"In a limited study, using blood from peanut allergic patients that was exposed to the proteins, they did not
respond the same way," Gallo said. "In other words, the patient's antibodies did not recognize one of the
proteins. So in theory, they are not as l lleti i h this protein."

This discovery provides the opportunity for future investigation of the allergy ..Lh.irateri-ti. of peanuts, which
is due to the proteins within peanut genes. These proteins can cause a range of allergic reactions from minor
discomfort such as a skin rash to more serious reactions such as diffi,:'.ll breathing and death.

Nearly 2 percent of the U.S. population suffers from peanut allergies, but exactly why and how people become
allergic i- -till under scientific inv~rtigiation

If what Callo has found holds true in future studies, this research provides a step forward in the search for
a viable alternative for those who have peanut allergies. In fact, hypoallergenic peanuts may be available to
consumers in the next five to 20 years.

Gallo said the next step requires additional research to ensure that alteration ,of the genec does not change
other peanut characteristics and that these peanuts are safe for all people to eat.














Figure D-3. Scientific Progress Message









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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

The author was born Courtney Alyssa Wimmer, in 1980, in Fort Scott, Kansas. She grew

up in Fulton, a small town in southeastern Kansas. Her family includes her parents, Gary and

Sheila Wimmer; a twin sister, Gaea; a brother, Zach; and a younger sister, Sheridan. Her interest

in agricultural communications was nurtured through involvement in FFA at Jayhawk-Linn High

School in Mound City, Kansas, where she graduated in 1999.

In August 1999, Courtney began her college career at Kansas State University majoring in

agricultural communications and journalism. While at K-State, Courtney worked for the

International Grains Program and was active in Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She

graduated summa cum laude in May 2003.

In August 2003, Courtney continued her education at the University of Arkansas in

Fayetteville. While earning her master's degree in agricultural and extension education, she spent

a summer working for the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh, Scotland. Courtney was

selected as the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Master's Scholar when

she graduated in 2005.

After completing her master's degree, Courtney married Daniel Meyers in June 2005, and

moved to Gainesville, Florida, to pursue her doctoral degree in agricultural communications.

Courtney received the University of Florida Alumni Academic Fellowship to support her

doctoral education in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. During her

degree program, Courtney taught or assisted classes in technical writing, Web and print design,

and communication campaign development. She conducted research in Web and print material

evaluation, scholarship of teaching and learning, media coverage of agricultural issues, and

public awareness of agricultural topics.









Courtney and her husband welcomed their first child, Isabel Ashley, in 2008. In August,

Courtney will begin her faculty career at Texas Tech University as an assistant professor in the

Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, teaching agricultural

communications.





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THE AGRICULTURE ANGLE: EFFECT OF FRAMING AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY MESSAGES ON ATTITUDE S AND INTENT TO PUBLISH WITHIN THE ELABORATION LIKELIHOOD MODEL By COURTNEY ALYSSA MEYERS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008 1

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2008 Courtney Alyssa Meyers 2

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To my husband, Daniel Meyers 3

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS A number of people have cont ributed to my success in graduate school and the completion of my doctoral degree. I want to first thank my committee members whose individual and collective input made my disserta tion research more rigorous and the entire process a worthwhile endeavor. I thank Dr. Maria Gallo who provided a valuable biologi cal scientists perspective and the content necessary for the message stimuli. I thank Dr. Debbie Treise whose expertise in science communication greatly bene fited the conceptual and theoretical framework for the study. I thank Dr. Anna Ball who always asked thoughtful questions and challenged me to more closely evaluate the organization of my arguments. I thank Dr. Ricky Telg for his close editing and attention to detail, which improved my writing a nd the overall quality of my dissertation. Finally, I thank my committee chair, Dr. Tracy Irani, fo r her support and encouragement, revision of numerous drafts, and continual advice to improve my ability as a researcher and future faculty member. I have benefited from working in an extraordinary academic department that values graduate students and provides numerous opportuniti es for their success. I thank Jodi DeGraw who always had an answer to every question a nd was eager to help me through any situation requiring paperwork. I thank the wonderful suppor t staff, Holly OFerre ll and Rachel Harris, who make the department run. I always enjoyed visiting with them both and I know they sincerely care about the students in the department. Finally, to Dr. Edward Osborne, I want to extend my sincere gratitude for both financial a nd personal support during my time in Florida. The advice and insight he provided in Faculty Ro les class was extremely beneficial in helping me obtain a faculty position and my preparation to become an assistant professor. I thank him for all he does to make the department a wonderful place to earn a graduate degree. 4

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Although three years in graduate school can seem like a never-ending sequence of writing papers and taking exams, it is the friends I have made that helped that time fly by and leave me with mixed feelings as I move on. I thank all my fellow graduate students, past and present, who made this experience so enjoyable. I especia lly thank Emily Rhoades for her guidance as my mentor in the department and Shannon Arnol d for her valuable advice and entertaining conversations. I look forward to many collaborative research projects to gether as friends and colleagues. I also want to tha nk many other fellow graduate students Wendy Warner, Elio Chiarelli, Brian Estevez, Katy Groseta, Ch risty Windham, Ann DeLay, Lauri Baker, Robert Strong, Marlene von Stein, Rochelle Strickland who made me laugh and relax despite any level of stress. I thank Katie (Chodil) Abrams who has been my classmate, teaching partner, research collaborator, and friend. I could always count on her to share my accomplishments or struggles. Finally, I thank Carrie Pedreiro and her husband, Michael Pedreiro, for their most treasured friendship. They are wonderful ro le models of a loving couple and dedicated parents. I thank two people whose early influence help ed me get this far. I thank Dr. Jefferson Miller, my masters adviser at the University of Arkansas, who encouraged me to consider working toward a Ph.D. when the thought had never crossed my mind. I also thank Mr. Bill Johnston, my high school FFA advisor, who exposed me to the diverse possibilities available in agriculture and helped channel my competitive spirit and drive for success. My respect for education and love of learni ng was encouraged from an early age by my parents, Gary and Sheila Wimmer. I thank them for establishing high standards and providing the support necessary to realize my educational goa ls. I also thank my grandmother, Dorothy Wimmer, who fostered an appreciation for agricu lture and demonstrated what a good work ethic truly is. I thank my dearest friend since concep tion, my twin sister, Gaea Wimmer, who I could 5

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always count on to listen to my problems and share in my victories. Twins truly do share a special bond and I am extremely gratef ul to have her as my sister. The result of this effort and my doctoral edu cation is shared with one very special person in my life, my husband Daniel Meyers. I could have never completed this degree without his constant encouragement and understanding. I than k him for taking care of chores and other responsibilities so I could concen trate on schoolwork or attend rese arch conferences. He and our sweet dog Dash have been a source of great joy during any obstacles I faced. As we start the greatest adventure in our lives as parents to Isab el, I know he will continue to be my best friend and love of my life. 6

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................... 4LIST OF TABLES .........................................................................................................................10LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................................................13LIST OF DEFINITIONS ...............................................................................................................14ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... .............15CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ ..18Science and the Public ........................................................................................................ ....20Science and Media ............................................................................................................. .....22Application: Scientific Thinking and E ducational Partnership (STEP) Program and Agricultural Biotechnology .................................................................................................27Elaboration Likelihood Model ................................................................................................30Framing ....................................................................................................................... ............31Problem Statement ............................................................................................................. .....332 RELEVANT LITERATURE ..................................................................................................35Attitudes and Persuasion ...................................................................................................... ...35Elaboration Likelihood Model ................................................................................................38Issue Involvement and Personal Relevance ....................................................................39Argument Quality ............................................................................................................41Need for Cognition ..........................................................................................................44Framing ....................................................................................................................... ............44Framing Biotechnology ......................................................................................................... .48Framing and the Elaboration Likelihood Model ....................................................................50Agenda Setting and Priming ...................................................................................................5 2Public Relations and Framing .................................................................................................5 3Summary ....................................................................................................................... ..........543 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS ..............................................................................55Overview ...................................................................................................................... ...........55Research Questions and Hypotheses ......................................................................................56Research Design .....................................................................................................................57Subjects ...................................................................................................................... .............60Message Stimuli ......................................................................................................................61Message Stimuli Testing .........................................................................................................63 7

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Independent Variables ......................................................................................................... ...64Message Frame ................................................................................................................65Issue Involvement ............................................................................................................65Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology .................................................................66Dependent Variables ........................................................................................................... ....67Argument Quality ............................................................................................................67Likelihood to Publish ......................................................................................................68Attribute Variables ..................................................................................................................68Instrumentation ............................................................................................................... ........69Instrument Pilot Test .......................................................................................................69Instrument Content ..........................................................................................................72Procedure ..................................................................................................................... ...........73Data Analyses .........................................................................................................................744 RESULTS ..................................................................................................................... ..........76Overview ...................................................................................................................... ...........76Descriptive Analysis .......................................................................................................... .....76Potential Error .................................................................................................................77Demographics .................................................................................................................. 81Issue Involvement ............................................................................................................85Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology .............................................85Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements ................................................................86Attitudes Toward Message Topic ....................................................................................86Likelihood to Publish ......................................................................................................87Need for Cognition ..........................................................................................................88The ELM Scales .....................................................................................................................89Issue Involvement Scale ..................................................................................................89Attitudes Toward Argument Quality ...............................................................................90Need for Cognition Scale ................................................................................................91Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology .............................................92Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements ................................................................93Attitudes Toward Message Topic ....................................................................................94Likelihood to Publish ......................................................................................................95Manipulation Checks ..............................................................................................................96Tests of Hypotheses ................................................................................................................99Post Hoc Analyses ................................................................................................................106Message Frame Identification .......................................................................................106Attitudes and Message Frame .......................................................................................107Need for Cognition ........................................................................................................108Differences Between Organization Membership ..........................................................109Index Development .......................................................................................................1145 DISCUSSION .................................................................................................................. .....121Overview ...................................................................................................................... .........121Key Findings .........................................................................................................................122 8

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Implications .................................................................................................................. ........126Limitations ................................................................................................................... .........130Recommendations ............................................................................................................... ..133Recommendations for Theory and Future Research .....................................................133Recommendations for Practitioners ..............................................................................135Conclusions ...........................................................................................................................137APPENDIX A PRE-NOTICE LETTER .......................................................................................................138B E-MAIL CONTACTS ..........................................................................................................140C INSTRUMENT .................................................................................................................. ...143D MESSAGE VERSIONS .......................................................................................................159LIST OF REFERENCES .............................................................................................................163BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................................175 9

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1. Characteristics of Early and Late Survey Respondents ..........................................................794-2. Independent Samples T-Test to Compare Age of Early a nd Late Survey Respondents ........804-3. Independent Samples T-Test for Significant Differences Between Early and Late Respondents ................................................................................................................... ....814-4. Characteristics of Survey Respondents ..................................................................................834-5. Agreement with Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements ............................................874-6. Descriptive Statistics for Likelihood to Publish .....................................................................884-7. Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) Scale In ter-item Consistency Statistics .................................................................................................................... .........904-8. Perceived Argument Quality Scale In ter-item Consistency Statistics ....................................914-9. Need for Cognition Scale Inte r-item Consistency Statistics ..................................................914-10. Preexisting Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics .................................................................................................................... .........934-11. Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics ......934-12. Attitudes toward Messa ge Topic Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics ...........................954-13. Likelihood to Publish Scale Inte r-item Consistency Statistics .............................................954-14. Classification of Message Frame by Assigned Frame ..........................................................974-15. ANOVA for Subjects Perceptions of Message Frames ......................................................984-16. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality ................................................................994-17. Means for Attitudes Toward Argument Quality Split by High/Low Issue Involvement, More Positive/ Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology, and Message Frame ................................................................................................................1004-18. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Likelihood to Publish .........................................................................1014-19. Means for Likelihood to Publish Split by High/Low Issue Involvement, More Positive/ Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricu ltural Biotechnology, a nd Message Frame ........101 10

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4-20. ANOVA for Message Frame and Issue Invol vement on Perceived Argument Quality .....1024-21. ANOVA for Message Frame and Attitude s Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality ............................................................................................1034-22. Independent Samples T-test for Signi ficant Differences Between High/Low Issue Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality for Subjects Who Received Scientific Progress Message Frame .................................................................................................1044-23. Independent Samples T-test for Signi ficant Differences Between High/Low Issue Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality for Subjects Who Received Health Message Frame ................................................................................................................1044-24. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicti ng Perceived Argument Quality........................................................................................................................ ......1054-25. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Likelihood to Publish. .....1054-26. ANOVA for Subject-Identified Message Fr ame, Issue Involvement, and Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotec hnology on Perceived Argument Quality ............1064-27. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between More Positive/Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality Spilt by Message Frame ......................................................................................1074-28. Independent Samples T-Test for Significant Differences Between Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology Groups and Attitudes Toward Message Topic .................................................................................................................1084-29. Multiple Linear Regression Analysis for Variables Predicti ng Perceived Argument Quality, Including Need for Cognition ............................................................................1084-30. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Invo lvement, Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology, and Need for C ognition on Perceived Argument Quality ..1094-31. Independent Samples T-test for Signi ficant Differences Between Organization Membership and Issue Involvement ................................................................................1104-32. Independent Samples T-test for Signi ficant Differences Between Organization Membership and Preexisting Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology ...................1114-33. Percentage of Assigned Frame Sp lit within Membership Organization ............................1114-34. Classification of Message Frame within Membership Organization .................................1124-35. Independent Samples T-test for Signi ficant Differences Between Organization Membership and Attitudes Toward Argument Quality ...................................................113 11

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4-36. Independent Samples T-tests for Signi ficant Differences Between Organization Membership and Attitudes Toward Argu ment Quality of Message Frames ...................1134-37. Independent Samples T-test for Signi ficant Differences Between Organization Membership and Likelihood to Publish ...........................................................................1144-38. Independent Samples T-tests for Signi ficant Differences Between Organization Membership and Likelihood to Publish for Each Message Frame ..................................1144-39. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Issue Involvement ..................................................1154-40. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Cognitive Issue Involvement .................................1164-41. Cognitive Issue Involvement Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics ...............................1164-42. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Affective Issue Involvement ..................................1174-43. Affective Issue Involvement Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics ................................1174-44. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Perceived Argument Quality .................................1184-45. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Newsworthiness Index ...........................................1194-46. Newsworthiness Scale Interitem Consistency Statistics ...................................................1194-47. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Seven-Item Argument Quality Index .....................1194-48. Seven-Item Argument Quality Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics .............................120 12

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2-1. The Elaboration Likeli hood Model of persuasion. .................................................................393-1. Operational framework for the current study. ........................................................................57 13

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LIST OF DEFINITIONS Agricultural Biotechnology Agricult ural biotechnology is a range of tools, including traditional breeding techniques, that a lter living organisms, or parts of organisms, to make or modify products; improve plants or animals; or develop microorganisms for specific agricu ltural uses (USDA, 2005, para. 1). Attitude A psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993, p. 1). Elaboration Degree to which an individual cognitively processes issue-relevant arguments within a persuasive communication (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Framing To select some aspects of a per ceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a wa y as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, mo ral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described (Entman, 1993, p. 52). Issue Involvement The amount of importance recipients give to a persuasive message (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979). Need for Cognition An individuals tendency to engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive endeavors (Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1984, p. 306). Newsworthiness An indication of an events li kelihood to be included in news coverage based on news values such as proxim ity, impact, timeliness, and conflict (Clayman & Reisner, 1998). Persuasion Any instance in which an activ e attempt is made to change a persons mind (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996, p. 4). Science Communication The communication of sc ientific topics, concepts, or research findings using journalistic practices through mass media, public relations, or informal education such as museums. Science Reporting The communication of science -related topics followi ng the conventions of journalist practice. Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP) Program A multi-dimensional university-based program th at assists University of Florida faculty in executing the societal broader impacts of their research, engages students in the sciences, and educates the publ ic at large rega rding scientific knowledge and cutting edge tec hnologies (STEP, 2007a, para. 1). 14

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Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE AGRICULTURE ANGLE: EFFECT OF FRAMING AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY MESSAGES ON ATTITUDE S AND INTENT TO PUBLISH WITHIN THE ELABORATION LI KELIHOOD MODEL By Courtney Alyssa Meyers August 2008 Chair: Tracy Irani Major: Agricultural Edu cation and Communication Our purpose was to examine the effect persuasive communication has on influencing media coverage of agricultural science, specifically agricultural biotechnology. Agricultural issues are most commonly framed as positive versus negative or risk versus benefit. Using the Elaboration Likelihood Model and framing theo ry, persuasive communication was achieved through the use of positively framed messages ( health, economics and scientific progress ) to discover what impact the message frame had on communicators attit udes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish the information. Today, the media serve as the primary source of scientific information, but do not frequently ad dress agricultural topics including those that involve controversial science and technology app lications. Public relatio ns practitioners in science, including agricultural sc ience, can utilize message fr ames to shape public opinion through media coverage. However, no empirical research has been conducted regarding the utilization of positive message frames in a persuasive communication model to discover communicators reactions to agricu ltural biotechnology news messages. We examined the situation of framing with in the ELM, a dual-route model of persuasion. A 2 (issue involvement: high and low) x 2 (preexisting attitude toward agricultural 15

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biotechnology: more positive and less positive) x 3 (message frames: scientific progress, economics, and health ) between-subjects factoria l quasi-experimental design was used to test the research hypotheses. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive one of three message frames. The experiment focused on determining whether an individuals issue involvement and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, when provided w ith a specific message frame, influenced resulting attitudes toward argument quality a nd likelihood to publish ag ricultural biotechnology news. Members of the American Agricultural Ed itors Association (AAEA) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) comprised the sample fo r the study. The final accessible sample included those with active e-mail addresses (n = 1,240) with a response rate of 24.8% (n = 308). Overall, results indicated that the interac tion of message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitude toward agricultural biot echnology was not significant on attitudes toward argument quality or likelihood to publish. However, the main effects were significant for the independent variables on attit udes toward argument quality, but not likelihood to publish. Those with more favorable preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology had higher mean scores on attitudes toward ag ricultural biotechnology. Similarly, those who were high in issue involvement had higher mean scores on attit udes toward agricultural biotechnology. The frame alone also had a significant influence on att itudes toward agricultur al biotechnology. Results indicated that the message frames do have some influence on attitudes toward argument quality with the health frame as the most influential frame on th e dependent variables regardless of issue involvement or preexisting attit ude. This study also introduced a potential new index to measure 16

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17 attitudes toward argument quality as perceived by those in the me dia. This index was comprised of items from newsworthiness and argument quality indexes. The theoretical contribution of this st udy provides additional support for connecting framing and the ELM. How persuasive messages are framed influences attitudes toward argument quality, which is related to the amount of cognitive processing undertaken and the route to persuasion used with the ELM.

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The systematic acquisition of food, clothing, and shelter was the earliest form of collective human activity and gave birth to civilization. Industry, art, an d science are all products of a civilization founded on and supported by agricu lture. Thus, agriculture, directly or indirectly, touches all asp ects of human activity (Nati onal Agricultural Library, 2002). American agriculture has a celeb rated past with achievements in the distribution of public lands, founding of land-grant colleges, application of science, a nd federal policy support (Hurt, 2002). According to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture, the United States has more than two million farms occupying almost one billi on acres, and the annual market value for agricultural products exceeds $200 billion (United States Department of Agriculture, 2002). In 2000, the agriculture industry provided 25.8 million jobs, which is approximately 15.6% of the total U.S. employment. These jobs include fa rm production employment, agricultural services, forestry, fishing, equipment manufacturing, and agricultural processing (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, n.d.). Although agriculture has a significant impact on the U.S. economy and job market, the amount of people directly involve d in production agriculture has dropped to less than 1% of the U.S. population (Hurt, 2002). This has led to a U.S. public that has limited understanding as to what agriculture is, what agri culture does, or the future ch allenges facing the industry. The significance of changing this view of agriculture, whether it be a pe rceptual or a re alistic one, is critical to U.S. agricultures structure, f unction, and success in the coming years (National Agricultural Research, Extension, Educati on, and Economics Advisory Board [NAREEE], 1997, p. 7). Specific goals to improve the publics unders tanding and appreciation of agriculture include increasing scientific literacy among consumers and policy makers, improving confidence in the U.S. food production system, and esta blishing public understa nding and support of 18

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agricultural research and educati on (NAREEE, 1997). These goals are still in effect today as the publics agricultural lit eracy, knowledge or understanding of agricultural concepts (Frick, Birkenholz, & Machtmes, 1995), remains low. For ex ample, in 2002 less than 10% of the Florida public understood agricultures impact on the stat e economy or the importance of agriculture in general (Florida Departme nt of Agriculture and C onsumer Services, 2002). Historically, American agriculture has gone th rough a series of revolutions. The first was the integration of horse-power ed equipment; the second revolu tion involved increased use of mechanical power and chemical herbicides, pest icides, and fertilizers. The third revolution in American agriculture at the end of the 20th century was marked by the increased application of science (Hurt, 2002). Agriculture utilizes scientific advances in the life, environmental, and social sciences to advance and improve produc tion practices; to develop new products; to improve nutritional content; to provide environmen tal benefits; and to enhance biosecurity and food safety (National Research Council, 2003). Advances in sc ience and technology have helped American agriculture become successful thr ough improved production practices and consumer benefits, such as food with a longer shelf lif e, new flavors, more convenience, and better nutrition (USDA ARS, 2005). Continue d research in agriculture st rives to discover scientific answers to further advance the industry and m eet future needs (Buchanan, 2007). Science has served as a vitally important foundation for our agri cultural system and its ab ility to provide this nation and the world with its needs for food, fiber, and feed of our livestock (Buchanan, 2007, p. 1). As mentioned, the third revolution in Amer ican agriculture is characterized by the utilization of innovations in science, specifi cally in genomics and biotechnology (Hurt, 2002). A new word, biotechnology, reflected the merging of agricultur al sciences with engineering and 19

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the promise of improved production (Hurt, 2002, p. 383).The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines agricultural biotechnology as a range of tool s, including traditiona l breeding techniques, that alter living organisms, or parts of organisms, to make or modify products; improve plants or animals; or develop microorganisms for speci fic agricultural uses, (USDA, 2007, para. 1). Biotechnology also encompasses the tools of genetic engineering or genetic modification (USDA, 2007). As a subset of research in ge netics, biotechnology has intrigued both the media and public beginning in the 1970s (Nelkin & Lindee, 1995). Organiza tions such as the National Academy of Science (NAS) have encouraged the development of a gene tically literate public that understands basic biological research, understands elements of the personal and health implications of genetics, and pa rticipates effectivel y in public policy issues involving genetic information (Andrews, Fullarton, Holtzman, & Motulsky, 1994, p. 185). Science and the Public At a time when the challenges facing human ity are growing rapidly, and when meeting those challenges increasingly depends on scientific research, the need for public support and understanding of science has never been greater. (Holsinger, 2006, p. 955) An interest and appreciation for science is ingrained in American culture (Miller, 2000). Most American adults (90%) report being very or moderately interested in scientific and technological discoveries (National Science Foundation [NSF], 2006b). Ho wever, the attention given to science and technology has not promot ed public understanding of the basic concepts that make these innovations possible. Although the percentage of scientif ically literate U.S. adults has doubled in the past 20 years, it is lo w considering the democratic principle of citizen understanding and involvement in polic y decisions. By the end of the 20th century, only 17% of U.S. adults were classified as sc ientifically literate (Mil ler, 2000). Scientific literacy is related to the publics ability to understa nd scientific concepts, including those related to agricultural science endeavors. The appropriate level of understanding to be cons idered scientifically literate 20

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is the ability to read and compre hend the Tuesday sc ience section of The New York Times (Miller, 2000, p. 274). Hacker and Harris (1992) stated that an individuals formal education in science occurs early in life and cannot equip the individual for a sc ientifically litera te lifetime in an increasingly technological so ciety (p. 217). Although science is an emphasized subject in formal education, most Americans continue to struggle to comprehend th e foundational concepts of science necessary to interp ret current research findings (M iller, 2000). Consequently, the American public is largel y illiterate about scienc e (Gregory & Miller, 1998). Beyond politics, science has an influence on economic and social i ssues (Nelkin, 1995). Diamond (1997) posited that ever yone needs to understand scie nce to help make personal choices regarding health and safe ty, to guide policy-decisions, to be informed voters, and to support sciences impact on the economy, educati on system, and society. After the completion of formal education, the majority of people have little exposure to scie nce except through media reports. As Nelkin (1995) explained: For most people, the reality of science is wh at they read in the press. They understand science less through direct experience or past education than through the filter of journalistic language and imagery. The media ar e their only contact with what is going on in rapidly changing scientific a nd technical fields, as well as a major source of information about the implications of these changes for their lives. (p. 2) The science information presented in the me dia is different from what is taught in educational settings. In formal education, people learn textbook science th at is classified as uncontroversial or established. The media, however, report on frontier science that is often uncertain or preliminary (Bauer, 1994). Within agricultural science, an example of frontier science includes the applicati on of biotechnology fo r the recent and future development of functional foods that provide nutritional attributes (Nati onal Research Council, 2003). 21

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Beginning in the 1980s, interest in defining and discovering the public s understanding of science has initiated a vast number of resear ch endeavors (Bauer, Allum, & Miller, 2007). Defining public understanding of science is di fficult and often depends on the studys author or authors. In order to operati onally define the term, it is often broken into three distinct pieces: public, understanding, and scienc e. Public includes almost anyone who might receive information concerning scientific topics, but is most often used to describe a lay public of those not directly involved in sc ientific research. Understandi ng includes both knowledge and appreciation of scientific topi cs. Science is defined as scientific knowledge produced by those recognized as members of the scientific community (Thomas & Durant, 1987). Although defining the public understanding of science is difficult, many people agree that more emphasis on it would be beneficial (Gre gory & Miller, 1998). Thomas a nd Durant (1987) outlined nine benefits that should serve as motivation for improved public u nderstanding of science: (1) benefits to science; (2) benefits to nationa l economies; (3) benefits to national power and influence; (4) benefits to indi viduals; (5) benefits to democr atic government; (6) benefits to society as a whole; (7) intellectual benefits; (8 ) aesthetic benefits; and (9) moral benefits. The diversity of these benefits illustrate that although many people agree on the need for public understanding of science, the underlying motivations, outlooks, and purposes are varied and distinct. Science and Media The mass media serve as the primary source of current scientific information for American adults (Friedman, Dunwoody, & Roge rs, 1986; LaFollette, 1990; Ne lkin, 1995). Other sources of scientific information such as science cl asses, science museums, and interpersonal communication exist, but the mass media provide the public with the most access to sciencerelated information (Nisbet et al., 2002). The me dia are often the only so urce the public has to 22

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learn about scientific discoveries events, and controversies. If readers have limited experience or prior knowledge with a scientific topic, they rely on the media to provide an explanation as to what effect scientific findings have on their lives (Nelkin, 1995). Due to the large amount of scientific information available, the public relies on the media, to some degree, to keep them informed of recent advances in scientific pursu its (Zimmerman, Bisanz, Bisanz, Klein, & Klein, 2001). The most common channels for science inform ation are electronic. The National Science Foundation (2006b) reported televisi on is the most utilized source for science information (41%), followed by other media channels including news papers (14%), magazines (14%), and radio (2%). The Internet (18%) was th e second highest source of scie nce information, which may or may not include online media sources. Additional sources were friends and family (4%), books (5%), and other (2%) (NSF, 2006). Nisbet et al. (2002) concluded that sc ience-specific television programming can positively influence public und erstanding of science, but the amount of sensational and fictionalized ac counts of science (i.e. science fiction, fantasy, or paranormal mystery shows) overwhelm solely educational effo rts. Therefore, when education is the primary goal of public outreach of science, the preferre d media channel should be print, specifically newspapers and magazines (Nisbet et al., 2002). A number of internal and external factors in fluence what is covere d in the mass media. Within media organizations, the re sponsibility of reporting science lies with journalists, who face many challenges when covering scientific topics including news-gathering norms, editorial pressures, uncooperative scientis ts, and a diverse audience (Tre ise & Weigold, 2002). External factors include sources, interest groups, public relations campai gns, other media organizations, advertisers, and audiences (Shoemaker & Reese, 1996). When reporting news events, including 23

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science, the media are actively deciding what stor ies to cover and this process, along with what interpretation the media provide, can influence th e publics agenda (Pries t, 2001). Science stories are more likely to be covered by the media if they meet certain newsworthy characteristics called news values. In reference to science stories, th ese news values include threshold or magnitude; meaningfulness, relevance, and consonance to th e audience; co-option a nd composition in terms of what has been published and available space or time; frequency, unexpectedness, and continuity of news items; competition of stories; unambiguity and negativity of information; reliability of facts and sources; and elitism and personalization (Gregory & Miller, 1998). The scientific process is often ambiguous, co mplex, and controversial, and these factors lead to ever-present scientific uncertainty, which is created thr ough a limited amount of scientific knowledge or a disagreement about what that knowledge means. Scientific stories that contain some amount of uncertainty are considered news worthy because of the in herent conflict and controversy. How journalists write about and desc ribe stories containing scientific uncertainty can affect how the audience interprets that information (Friedma n, Dunwoody, & Rogers, 1999). Hartz and Chappell (1997) contend that media in attention to complex scientific topics has encouraged a public that is unsuppor tive of science and technology. Rogers (1999) identified two ch aracteristics of science reporti ng that inhibit the audiences ability to understand the scientific topic: lack of information and lack of context. Audience members need basic information to understand th e content of a science story. Without this foundation, readers must make assumptions, which ma y or may not be correct. In regard to the context, audience members want to know how the la test information fits into the larger body of research, what came before, and what is next. The structure and framing of a science news story can also influence how well the audience is able to understand the issue being presented. When 24

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writing about science, journalists should ma ke the stories informative, useful, and understandable, which can be difficult when reporti ng on controversial or new scientific issues (Rogers, 1999). Journalists inab ility to adequately report on sc ience by explaining the context and process of research contri butes to the separa tion between science and public understanding (Nelkin, 1995). The ability of jour nalists to report on science has implications for the audience: Good reporting can enhance the publics ability to evaluate science policy issues and the individuals ability to make rational pe rsonal choices; poor reporting can mislead and disempower a public that is increasingly affected by science and technology and by decisions determined by techni cal expertise. (Nelkin, 1995, p. 2) Agricultural science covers a variety of disc iplines and involves a number of stakeholders including scientists, producers, conservationists, and consumer s (National Research Council, 2003). Lundy, Ruth, Telg, and Irani (2006) found that agricultural scientists did not believe the public understands either ag riculture or its parent sciences. Agricultural scientists also reported a lack of confidence in the publics ability to get necessary information through the news media to understand agriculture or science in general (Lundy et al., 2006). Despite its significant contri bution to Americas economic, cultural, and environmental progress, agriculture is often overlooked as a newsworthy topic by the mass media (Stringer & Thomson, 1999). Although no empirical literature could be found regarding dominant agriculture issues in news media, recent cove rage of agriculture in U.S. news media focused on topics such as food safety (Schmit, 2008; Shin, 2008), biofue ls and rising food prices (Martin, 2008; Sands, 2008), organic food (Rosenwald, 2008; Martin & Severson, 2008), and the U.S. farm bill (Lengell, 2008; Weisman & Morgan, 2008). Lichter, Amundson, and Lichter ( 2005) analyzed content from 10 news outlets (print and television) during a six-month period in 2004 to discover how rural life is portrayed. Although the overall number of articles containing rural increased 57% from 2002 to 2004, the amount 25

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of farm-related coverage decrease d 50%. Agriculture and rural life were rarely associated, with farming mentioned in only 3% of the media cove rage (Lichter et al., 2005). Agricultural news coverage may not always be classified as sc ience stories because agriculture, like health communication, involves the use of several news angles, including human interest or business. However, as previously mentione d, agricultural news coverage can include the use of a science news angle. Journalists who do not regularly report on agricultural news do not provide an accurate description of the industry (Reisn er & Walter, 1994). Print stories in general newspapers tend to be superficial and stereotyped. These media s ources do not provide in-depth or long-term coverage of agricultural science issues or events. Reisner and Walter (1994) found that general newspapers and farm magazines do not provide consistent or comp lete coverage of agricultural issues or events that would increase public understanding of issues facing farmers or farmer understanding of public concerns ab out agricultures environmental and social effects (p. 535). Biotechnology is one area of agricultural scie nce that has received a great deal of media coverage, and the media play an important role in shaping public per ceptions of this topic (Kalaitzandonakes, Marks, & Vickner, 2004). A recent International Food Information Council study found that although about 75% of consumers ha ve heard or read at least a little about food biotechnology, they remain unawa re of the prevalence of these types of foods currently in the market (IFIC, 2007). Only 23% of consumers said these products are currently available. Consumer approval for plant biotechnology is gr eater than that for animal biotechnology, although approval for animal cloning did incr ease from 19% in 2006 to 24% in 2007. Most consumers (54%) are unsure about the potenti al of food biotechnology, while one-third said biotech foods will provide some benefits to them and their families. These benefits include better 26

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tasting food, reducing saturated fat content, a nd increasing healthful fats (IFIC, 2007). The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (2006) not ed that media coverage of agricultural biotechnology has an influence on the publics attention to the issue. After the StarLink corn recall in 2001, media coverage about agricultural biotechnol ogy was significant and public awareness was at its highest leve l. In 2001, 45% of American cons umers said they had heard a great deal (9%) or some (35%) about genetically modified f oods, which are developed using the tools of agricultura l biotechnology. As media coverage dedicated to genetically modified foods coverage decreased, so too did the publics awareness of the issue. In 2006, 41% of American consumers indicated either heari ng a great deal or some about the topic. The amount and tone of media coverage has an influence on consumer opinions regarding agricultural biotechnolo gy (Hoban, 1998). In European countries where media coverage has focused less on the benefits and more on the potentia l risks of this area of agricultural science, survey respondents are generally more nega tive in their opinions toward agricultural biotechnology (Hoban, 1998). Past research has indi cated that U.S. media are generally more positive in their coverage of agricultural bi otechnology (Gaskell, Bauer, Durant, & Allum, 1999), but the public perceptions of the quality of newspaper and television coverage of the topic are less supportive with only 44% of respondent s indicating the media were doing a good job for society (Priest, 2001, p. 940). Application: Scientific Thinking and E ducational Partnership (STEP) Program and Agricultural Biotechnology United States academic institutions significantly contribute to the scientific research and development conducted nationwide. In 2004, acade mia dedicated $42 billion to research and development efforts. The contribution is especial ly important in the ba sic sciences of which academia conducts more than half (NSF, 2006a). Academic institutions are also charged with the 27

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mission of providing the results of that research to the public. This is most often conducted through outreach and education programs that help scientists listen to concerns and proactively strive to provide the public with information regarding scientific i ssues (Leshner, 2007). To meet the research and development priori ties, academic institutions rely on both public and private funding agencies. In 2003, the government funded 60% of the research at academic institutions, and 96% of these funds are from six federal agen cies. Beginning in 2001, the NSF, one of the leading funders of academic researc h, requires grant applicants to demonstrate how they will incorporate broader societal impacts in to their research proposal. According to the NSF (2006a), broader impacts include aspects of teach ing and learning, integration of research and education, technology transfer, societal bene fits, technological innovation, infrastructure development, and opportunities to include a di versity of participants, particularly from underrepresented groups in science (p. 17). Scientists often struggle to develop and include outreach strategies in their grant proposals that can meet the broader impacts criterion of the merit review system (Frodeman & Holbrook, 2007). One reason for this hesitancy may be that scientists are traditionally not trained in how to communicate to or educate the public. Although scien tists may want to discuss their work with the public, they are pressured to dedicate their time and energy to conducting more research, securing grants, and publishing in scholarly jour nals. Leshner (2007) said more should be done to encourage public engagement and outreach training for scientists: If science is going to fully serve its societ al mission in the future, we need to both encourage and equip the next generation of scientists to effectively engage with the broader society in which we work and live (p. 161). To help address this issue and provide support to scientists when s eeking grants with the requirement of broader societal impacts, seve ral researchers at the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL) developed the Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP) 28

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Program. STEP works with researchers to write gran ts and develop strategies to provide research findings to the broader public. In 2007, STEP launched ufgenetics. com, an interactive website that highlights research of faculty associated with the University of Florid as Genetics Institute. The site includes information for the target audien ces of teachers and journalists. The teachers page has feature videos and lesson plans. The jo urnalists page includes feature videos, print news stories, and photographs in what can best be described as an online newsroom (STEP, 2007b). When journalists or reporters need to identify story ideas, conduct article research, or locate press releases, they ar e increasingly relying on the World Wide Web and e-mail (No Ones Yelling Copy Anymore, 2001). The Web has exposed journalists to more story ideas and has created job opportunities that are more directly involved with communication efforts, which represents a change in the news-making r oute of science journalism as well as in the dissemination of this content (Trumbo, Sprecker, Dumlao, Yun, & Duke, 2001, p. 361). Science public relations practit ioners are also utilizing the Web and e-mail to reach the media. Professionals in this car eer field are enthusiastic about the Web as a tool that helps persuade journalists to cove r their organizations (Duke, 2002, p. 321). Duke (2002) conducted a study of science public relations practitioners an d found almost all respon dents said e-mail is essential (66%) or sometimes us eful (29%) in media relations. Almost half (47%) of those surveyed routinely or always use e-mail to send press releases to journalists. A majority of practitioners (66%) reported that e-mail has helped increase media coverage of their organization to some degree, and 20% said it has greatly increased coverage (Duke, 2002). Having a Web presence also contributes to increased media coverage. Two-th irds (76%) of respondents said they post press releases on the Web, and 66% said it is easier to receive media coverage with the 29

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use of the Web. Public relations practitioners in science communication utilize the Web for a number of purposes beyond media relations, in cluding tracking issues, crisis communication, rumor control, and educati on and outreach (Duke, 2002). Online newsrooms are a critical element organiza tions need in order to interact with the media (Woodall, 2007). In the 2007 Online Newsroom Survey, all journalists surveyed said it was important for an organization to have an online newsroom, and 98% of the respondents prefer to receive e-mail alerts generated through these newsrooms. Interest in specific online newsroom features, such as photographs, audio, a nd video, increased when compared to previous years (Woodall, 2007). Additional res earch is needed to discover journalists perceptions of the information provided by an organization through an online newsroom format (specifically online news releases) that may persuade them to util ize that information in communication efforts. Elaboration Likelihood Model Within the context of the current study, th e Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) provides a framework to examine the individual variable s (need for cognition and issue involvement) and situational variables (argument quality and messa ge frame) that may influence the persuasion process through either the central or peripheral route (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The central route to persuasion is based on careful attention to the issue-relevant arguments within a message, and attitudes are formed based on evaluation of these arguments. The peripheral route to persuasion is based less on consideration of the arguments and more on the pe ripheral cues such as source credibility and graphic elem ents (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). An individuals motivation and ability influen ce the elaboration likelihood, or the degree to which a person cognitively assesses issue-rele vant messages within persuasive communication. Individuals who are highly motivated and have the ability to cognitively process the issuerelevant messages utilize the central route to persuasion. When individu als lack either the 30

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motivation and/or ability to evaluate the issue-relevant arguments, they are persuaded via the peripheral route (Pe tty & Cacioppo, 1996). The ELM contains several constructs that influence which rout e to persuasion an individual is more likely to ut ilize. One construct is issue involvement, which addresses the amount of importance recipients give to the issu e-relevant arguments in a persuasive message. Individuals who are more involved will be more likely to be persuaded through the central route than those who are less involved in the issue (P etty & Cacioppo, 1979). Anot her construct is the need for cognition, which is a personality trait that influences how much an individual evaluates a persuasive message (Petty, Cacioppo, & Strath man, 2005). The higher an individuals need for cognition, the more likely they will pay attention to the issue-relevant messages and utilize the central route to persuasion (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982). Argument quality is another construct that may influence the resulting attitude of a persuasive message. If an individual is motivated and able to use the central route to persuasion, arguments that are seen as strong and compelli ng will result in more favorable thoughts than those that are interpreted as weak. In contrast, when the peripheral route is utilized, an individual is more likely to depend on pr eexisting thoughts to form an a ttitude than issue-relevant arguments (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). With any given message topic, research is necessary to explore what elements of a persuasive messa ge could influence argument quality and the resulting persuasion process. Through the use of communication theories such as framing, messages could then be developed to purpos ively draw upon those message elements. Framing Framing is a communication strategy used to organize and make sense of information (Goffman, 1974). Framing occurs in a variet y of communication contexts, including media representations of information (Scheufele, 1999). Entman (1993) explained that framing helps 31

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organize information by drawing attention to important elements, emphasizing key pieces of information, and ignoring superfl uous details. In the media, fr ames can appear through the inclusion or exclusion of key words and the selection of sources (Entman, 1993). In regard to science information, individuals do not actively think about scien tific matters or know how to interpret scientific information; therefore, the media can influe nce public opinion of science and technology by legitimizing an issue or framing it in a way that will influence resulting public opinion (Priest & Eyck, 2003). Examination of ne ws frames, and any co rresponding event that encourages them, offers an opportunity to ex plore the medias influence on public opinion (Marks et al., 2007). Several studies have examined media coverage of agricultural biotechnology to discover prominent frames. Upon review of the literature, two frames in particular seemed to appear frequently in studies that incl uded media coverage in a variety of leading newspapers in the United States and abroad economic costs/ economic progress/economic and scientific progress/progress (Gaskell et al., 1999; Nisbet & Lewenstei n, 2002; Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003; Lundy & Irani, 2004). Crawley (2007) noted that media coverage of agricultural biotechnology has been prominently framed as scientific pr ogress and economic prosperity. Additionally, the frame of health or health benefits was noted in several fr aming analysis studies of media coverage regarding agricultu ral biotechnology (Gaskell et al. 1999; Kohring & Matthes, 2002; Marks, Kalaitzandonakes, Wilkins, & Zakharova, 2007). Framing has long been used to research how the media portray any number of issues. However, less research has been conducted on how public relations practitioners can utilize various frames to shape the discourse on a topic or issue. Lundy (2004) conducted an examination of positively framing internal co mmunication messages within the ELM. Results 32

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indicated that positive frames had some influence on attitudes toward internationalizing extension, but more research is necessary to expl ore the persuasive influe nce of frames within the ELM (Lundy, 2004). Public relations practitioners exist in both public and priv ate scientific institutions (including agricultural organizatio ns and institutions) to provide information to the media and encourage coverage of scientif ic endeavors (Nelkin, 1995). Public relations practitioners can utilize framing when writing news releases a nd can help influence how chosen topics are portrayed in the media (Knight, 1999). Journali sts should be considered as an audience for messages that contain frames because they are equa lly susceptible to the very frames that they use to describe events and i ssues (Scheufele, 1999, p. 117). Mo re research is needed to investigate if journalists frames of an event or issue are a result of how sources have framed the information, or if they rely on other news s ources framing of the i ssue (Scheufele, 1999). Problem Statement Agricultural science encompasse s a variety of scientific disc iplines that conduct research for a number of stakeholder groups. Although the public relies on agriculture for food, feed and fiber, public understanding of scie nce and its application in agricultural research pursuits is quite limited. The media serve as the primary source of modern scientific information, but do not give much attention to agricultural topics, includi ng those that involve c ontroversial science and technology applications. One such area of agricultur al science that has received media attention is agricultural biotechnology, due to the inherent uncertainty surrounding new applications of this science. Public relations practitioners in science, in cluding agricultural scien ce, can utilize message frames to shape public opinion through media coverage. However, no empirical research has been conducted regarding the utilization of positive message frames in a persuasive 33

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34 communication model to discover communicators reactions to agricultural biotechnology news messages. The purpose of this study was to exam ine what effect persuasive communication has on influencing media coverage of agricultural science, specifically agri cultural biotechnology. Persuasive communication was achieved thr ough the use of positively framed messages ( health, scientific progress, or economics ) to discover what impact the message frame had on communicators attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish the information. RQ1: When exposed to a specific positively valen ced news frame, to what extent do issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influence communicators attitudes toward ar gument quality of the message? RQ2: When exposed to a specific positively valen ced news frame, to what extent do issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influence communicators likelihood to publish the information?

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CHAPTER 2 RELEVANT LITERATURE The previous chapter established the need for the current study and the research purpose, which was to examine the effect persuasive communication (in the form of positively framed messages) about an application of agricultural biotechnology has on influencing media coverage of agricultural science, specifically agricultu ral biotechnology. This chapter provides an overview of research related to attitudes and th e persuasive communication process with specific emphasis on the ELM and its constructs involved in the current study. The literature review continues with an explanation of framing th eory, how framing is used in a variety of communication processes, and an overview of empirical studies that identified common frames utilized in media coverage of agricultural bi otechnology. The chapter conc ludes with an outline of agenda setting and priming theories and how fram ing theory can be utilized in public relations endeavors. Attitudes and Persuasion Eagly and Chaiken (1993) defined attitude as a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity w ith some degree of favor or disfavor (p. 1). Attitudes can be held toward what are termed attitude objects (Ostrom, Bond, Krosnick, & Sedikides, 1994). These attitude objects can be concrete (i.e. furniture, clothing) or abstract (i.e. socialism, capitalism) and include particular entities (i.e. personal belongings) or behaviors (i.e. voting) (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). When measuring attitudes, researchers are concerned with the evaluative property, which is the degree of positive or negative expression toward the attitude object. On the evaluative dimension, attitudes can range from strongly posit ive to neutral to str ongly negative (Ostrom et al., 1994). Because attitudes cannot be directly observed, researchers rely on observable 35

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evaluative responses to infer relevant attitudes. Three specific responses made when sharing attitudes are affective responses, cognitive re sponses, and conative responses. Affective responses are the emotional feelings connected to thinking or experiencing an attitude object. Cognitive responses are based on beliefs, inferences, knowledge, facts, and assumptions regarding the attitude object. Fi nally, conative responses are the behaviors or actions taken in response to the attitude ob ject (Ostrom et al., 1994). Attitudes are an essential construct in persuasion theories because attitudes are predictive of behavior (Stiff, 1994; Petty & Cacioppo, 199 6). Perloff (2003) defi ned persuasion as: a symbolic process in which communicators tr y to convince other people to change their attitudes or behavior regard ing an issue through the transmission of a message, in an atmosphere of free choice (p. 8). This definition states that the persuasion process has five criteria : 1) Symbols can be words, images, or nonverbal signs; 2) Persuasion is an intentional, deliberate process; 3) Persuasion is also an internal process to cha nge attitude or behavior ; 4) Transmission of a persuasive message can be verbal or non-verb al, interpersonal or vi a mass media; and 5) Individuals have free-choice re garding how to think or act in response to persuasive communication (Perloff, 2003). The Yale Attitude Change Approach (Hovl and, Janis, & Kelley, 1953) was among the earliest empirical studies on the effects of pers uasion communication. The researchers set out to investigate who says what to whom with what effect. The Hovland/Yale Model of Persuasion describes persuasion as a learning process where attitude change o ccurs after a series of steps: attention, comprehension, learning, acceptance, a nd retention (Hovland et al., 1953). Learning has long been recognized as a part of the pe rsuasion process with th e original research assumption that people attend to all the information they re ceive (Chaiken, Wood, & Eagly, 36

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1996). During the 1950s and early 1960s people were viewed as passive recipients of persuasive communication. This viewpoint changed in the 1960s when more emphasis was given to the active learning process found in cognitive models of persuasion. The learning process indicated that people were able to concentrate on the pers uasive message, speaker, or context and generate thoughts to support (proarguments) or challenge (c ounterarguments) the message (Perloff, 2003). The Cognitive Response Approach to Persuasi on states that a persons cognitive response to a message, more than the message itself, play s an important role in the persuasion process (Petty, Ostrom, & Brock, 1981). This approach places more emphasis on cognitive processing, but has two major limitations. First, the assumption that people always carefully think about messages is not always the case. Second, this appr oach does not provide ad equate explanation of the various ways messages can in fluence people (Perloff, 2003). The limitations in the cognitive process appro ach led to the development of two processbased models of persuasion: the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM) (Chaiken, Liberman, & Eagly, 1986; Chaiken et al., 1996) and the ELM (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The HSM proposes that persuasion can occur through two processes called systematic a nd heuristic processing. Systematic processing is characterized by careful attention and examination of issue-relevant arguments. Heuristic processing relies on the use of cognitive shortcuts to assist in the evaluation of persuasion messages (Chaiken et al., 1986). Of the two process-base d models, the ELM has been used more extensively in empirical invest igations of the persuasion process because its framework provides a more comprehensive ex planation to understand communication effects (Perloff, 2003). The following section provides additional description of the ELM and its specific constructs of inte rest for the current study. 37

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Elaboration Likelihood Model The ELM states that the amount and type of thinking one does in regard to a persuasive message will influence the result of that persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Elaboration likelihood is determined by va riables that affect the motivation and ability to process a message. Motivational factors address an individuals desire to expend c ognitive effort to consider message arguments. Ability factors include those that address whether an individual possesses the knowledge, skills, or opportuni ty to consider the persuasive message (Petty et al., 2005). The ELM is comprised of two distinct routes to persuasion: the central route and the peripheral route. In the central ro ute, more attention is given to the information contained in a message. People focus on the message arguments and develop a new understanding or integrate the information with prior knowle dge. Attitudes formed via th is route are usually rational because people pay attention to the message, ma ke a cognitive effort to interpret the message, and evaluate it. This process may not be comp letely rational, however, due to preexisting opinions regarding the value of some message arguments (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). The other route in the ELM, th e peripheral route, is based on less careful consideration of the message arguments. This route focuses less on the quality of the arguments and more on emphasizing peripheral cues. These cues are charact eristics or factors present in a message that do not require any cognitive effort on behalf of the issue or object. Peripheral cues work as cognitive shortcuts so people do not have to carefully consider message-relevant information (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). An important assumption of the ELM is that people cannot pay atten tion to every message they encounter. Attention relies on how much motivation or ability one has to attend to a persuasive message. Typically, persuasion occurs when a person receives a message from 38

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another source in a specific setting. This communication message can contain information about an issue, person, or object (Petty et al., 2005). Figure 2-1. The Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion (Petty & Wegener, 1999). Issue Involvement and Personal Relevance Issue involvement influences th e amount of importance recipients give to a persuasive message. The more involved an individual is, th e more importance the individual will place on 39

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the issue-relevant arguments in a persuasive m essage. When involvement is low, an individual will f the e likely to produce adverse thoughts and decreased agree ents contribute to message ef fectiveness. In a situation of low personal releva to give it becomes worthwhile to expend the mental effort to form an opinion. When the messa g on e effort to developing knowledge and opini ons about the issue and, therefore, have the ocus less cognitive effort on the message and focus on peripheral cues such as source credibility (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979). The strength of involvement influences the ab ility of a persuasive message to encourage thoughts either in support of or against the argu ment. When a person is highly involved with message content, counter-arguments ar ment. However, when the arguments are in agreement with a high ly involved individual, the corresponding thoughts will be positive and provide more support to the argument (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979). Personal relevance to a persuasive message in fluences what message attributes contribute to its effectiveness. When the persuasive message contains an issue of high relevance, the logic of message argum nce, peripheral cues contribute to the me ssage effectiveness (Pe tty, Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981). People are exposed to countless messages each day. It is impossible and impractical attention to every single message (Petty et al ., 2005). Therefore, when a message is personally relevant, ge is not as relevant, people will not be as motivated to expend the energy to form an opinion based on careful examination of the message arguments (Petty, Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981). In addition to motivation, the ability to process message arguments may vary dependin personal relevance. When a message is highly relevant, people have most likely dedicated cognitiv 40

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ability g the ity to hology of persuasion is: What makes an argument persuasive? (p. 31). 1981) said that the gene ral neglect of the information contained in a messa ge is e that assists in evaluation of the message s target, which could be an object, person, or issue oughts (in agreement with th e message). A weak message conta o to evaluate the arguments in a persua sive message. Any variab le that increases the likelihood that people will be motivat ed and able to engage in the difficult task of evaluatin message arguments increases the likelihood of th e central route to persuasion (Petty, Cacioppo & Goldman, 1981, p. 854). Alternatively, variables that decrease the motivation and/or abil evaluate message arguments will encourage pers uasion via the peripheral route (Petty, Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981). Argument Quality Petty and Cacioppo (1986) stated that one of the least researched and least understood questions in the psyc Fishbein and Ajzen ( geis probably the most serious problem in communication and persuasion research (p 359). Within the ELM, the construct addressing the characteristics of the persuasive messa argument quality. Argument quality deals with the attributes of any information contained in a messag (Petty & Cacioppo, 1981). The argument quality construct is important because this feature of a persuasive message can influence the resulting thoughts and persuasion route utilized (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). However, this co nstruct has not received a great deal of attention in ELM studies (Areni & Lutz, 1988). Petty and Cacioppo (1981) defined argument quality empirically through the development of strong and weak arguments. A strong me ssage contains message arguments that upon evaluation lead to favorable th ins message arguments that elicit unfavorab le thoughts when recipi ents think about them. During the message development process specific ar guments are also checked for believability t 41

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develop plausible strong and weak arguments. Th e final step is to pre-test the messages for comprehensibility, complexity, and familiarity (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Argument quality is incorporated in the ELM because this construct has some influence on which route to persuasion is more likely to be utilized. The central route to persuasion is characterized by more cognitive effort than the peripheral route. Message elaboration via the centra s to ts. If tional a persuasive h in issue involv n the l route occurs when a message recipient ha s both the motivation and ability to attend to a persuasive message. In this route, a message reci pient pays attention to messages, attempt understand them, and evaluates them. The descrip tion of that persuasion is then determined primarily by the recipients subjective evalua tion of the messages argument quality. This process is not entirely objective because message recipients integrate these messages into their existing knowledge base and the resulting opinion of the message may differ among recipien the recipient evaluates the message as containing strong and effective arguments, then addi thought about the message will lead to more favo rable thoughts and lasting persuasion; however if the message arguments are perceived as weak, additional thought will lead to counterarguments and the possibility that the recipient will move in the opposite direction of the position advocated in the persuasive communication (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). In instances when a person is either unable or unmotivated to thi nk about message, the peripheral route to persuasion is utilized. As discu ssed previously, a recipients issue involvement and personal relevance influence persuasion. If a person is hig ement but does not understand the message arguments (or arguments are absent), elaboration cannot occur because a recipient must first attend and comprehend the message. Without attention and comprehension of the me ssage arguments, elaboration is not possible When this is the case, the recipient can still de velop thoughts regarding the issue based o 42

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subjective quality of the arguments and preexis ting attitudes (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). A mo positive preexisting attitude will lead to additional favorable thoughts and strengthening of th initial attitude while a more negative preexisti ng attitude will encourage unfavorable thoughts and a more negative attitude (Tesser, 1978). This indicates that when a person lacks either the motivation or ability to think about the message-re levant arguments, the resulting thoughts will be determined more by preexis ting attitudes than the argumen ts in the message (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). Although argument quality is often manipulat ed pre-exposure to develop a strong and weak message treatment, in the current study argument quality will be operationalized empirically evalua re e and ted using three distinct frames scientific progress, economics, and health (furth n f newsw ver been easy to define. There are no hard-and-fast rules about what constitutes the news, and over from what to ignore within the vast pool of occurrences that could, potentially, be news. (p. of peo (Shoer & Reese, 1991). Schmierbach (2005) utilized the news values of timeliness, signif er explained below). This study will utilize attitudes toward argument quality to provide a objective measure of newsworthiness, which is a subjective measur e of news quality. Events that make it into the news often do so because journalists see these events as newsworthy (Fishman, 1980; Tuchman, 1978). A diverse set of charac teristics influence newsworthiness (Oliver & Myers, 1999). As Meyers (1997) explaine d, the construct o orthiness is complex and multi-dimensional: Newsworthinessqualities jour nalists believe make an event worth reportinghas ne reporters and editors themselves are often vague about how th ey separate what to c 18) Fundamental news value criteria include human interest, prominence of the issue, number ple affected, controversy or conflict, uniqueness, proximity, timeliness, and locality make icance, and relevance of r eaders to develop a newsworthine ss index. Findings indicated that newsworthiness was a reflection of journalists individual percep tions and this variable is 43

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important when exploring the gatekeeping deci sion process regarding what information is eventually reported on or published. Need for Cognition Some people evaluate messages regardless of wh ether or not they need to, while othe will evaluate a message only when th rs ey absolutely must. This personality trait is called the need t al., 2005). Need for cognition influences the persistence and resistance of newly more persistent over time and more resistant to cha nge (Haugtvedt & Petty, 1992) at at would otherwise not be meaningful and communicifferent way th at gives it meaning (Goff ation noring communicating text, in such a way as to pr omote a particular problem definition, causal for cognition (Petty e formed or changed attitudes (Haugtve dt & Petty, 1992, p. 317). Need for cognition is a motivating factor that influences which persua sion route message recipients will use (Cacioppo, & Petty, 1982). Individuals who are high in need for cognition are more concerned with the quality of information than those who are lower in need for cognition (Petty et al., 2005) and develop opinions that are Cacioppo, Petty, and Kao (1984) developed an 18-item scale for need for cognition th measures the intrinsic motivation one posse sses to partake in cognitive effort. Framing Framing occurs every day as a function of indi viduals cognitive attempts to organize life experiences and help make sense of them. A fr ame is used to take a situation th ate it in a d man, 1974). Frames are structures found in culture to organize unde rstanding of social phenomena (Hertog & McLeod, 2001). In communica tion, framing helps organize inform by drawing attention to important elements, emphasizing key pieces of information, and ig superfluous details. Entman (1993) said: To frame is to select some aspects of a per ceived reality and make th em more salient in a 44

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interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or trea tment recommendation for the item described. (p. 52) Frames can appear in four distinct ph ases of the communication process: the comm communicators make deliberate or unintentional deci sions when deciding what to say. As Entm es. These rces, and t the ce (Entman, 1993). Hertog and McLeod (2001) outlin usion, and elaboration (Tanka rd, Hendrickson, Silberman, Bliss, & Ghanem, 1991, p. 11). Within media content, frames can be id entified in a number of focal points: (1) unicator, text, receiver, a nd culture. Relevant to th e creation of news frames, an (1993) explained, the text of a communication process can also contain fram frames are formed through inclusion or exclusio n of key words, phrases, images, sou sentences that reinforce a theme. How the receiver interprets frames may or may not reflec original intention of the comm unicator when the frame was esta blished. Finally, an individuals culture provides an inventory of common frames shared by people in a social grouping. The appearance and attention to frames at each of the phases of the communication process promotes a shared function to highlight information, develop arguments about a problem, and subsequently focus on causation, evaluati on, and/or solution. Framing involves selection and salience. Wh en a piece of information is emphasized, it increases the audience members perception of salience, which is how noticeable, meaningful, or memorable a piece of information is to the audien e five applications of frames: to determine what content is relevant to discussion of a concern; to define the roles of stakeholders, to outline relevant beliefs, actions, and values; to determine the language used to discuss the topic; and to outline the va lues and goals of the content area. In regard to frames in news coverage, a frame is a central organizing idea for news content that supplies a context and suggests wh at the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, excl 45

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headl tion harts, ists ly ames (p. 114). The frame building proce ss addresses how media frames are developed, and S hat s ore events, second-level agenda se tting is concerned with the salience of issue attrib ines and kickers, (2) subh eads, (3) photographs, (4) photo captions, (5) leads, (6) selec of sources or affiliations, (7) selection of quotes, (8) pull quotes, (9) logos, ( 10) statistics, c and graphs, and (11) concluding st atements or paragraphs of arti cles (Tankard, 2001). Journal rely on frames to filter large amounts of information, determine what is im portant, and efficient communicate that information to their audience s (Gitlin, 1980). The news frame organizes everyday reality and the news frame is part and parcel of everyday realit y[it] is an essential feature of news (Tuchman, 1978, p. 193). Thus, how the media chooses to select and present issues may impact how audience members inte rpret the event (Price, Tewksbury, & Powers, 1997). Scheufele (1999) synthesized several approach es to framing research and developed a process model of framing. This model divides framing into four processes: frame building; frame setting; individual-level effects of framing; and a link between individual frames and media fr cheufele (1999) states that more research is needed to examine how journalists select frames or make changes to existing frames. Specifi cally, more work is needed to determine w individual characteristics, orga nizational factors, or external sources may influence how new content is framed. The frame setting process is similar to ag enda setting (McCombs & Shaw, 1972) or m specifically, second-level agenda setting (McC ombs, Llamas, Lopez-Escobar, & Rey, 1997). While agenda setting addresses the salience of issues through examination of the coverage and placement of news utes (McCombs et al., 1997 ). Second-level agenda setting refers to the tone of news coverage and attributes given to issues or individuals. The emphasis given to the specific 46

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attributes within news covera ge connects this theoretical work to framing theory. McCombs (1997) stated that framing is the selection of a restricted number of thematically related attributes for inclusion on the media agenda wh en a particular object is discussed (p. 37). Despite the similarities of fr aming and second-level agenda se tting, Scheufele (2000) affir that framing is a distinct theory because it deal s with the subtle changes in wording that may affect how the audience thinks about the topic, while agenda setting (including second-lev agenda setting) is based on the concept of atti tude accessibility. Fazio (1989) defined attitud accessibility along a continuum based on the strength of an association between an object in memory and an individuals evaluation of th at object. The media, through coverage or noncoverage, have the ability to influence both the issue and attribute salie nce of topics, thereby influencing attitude accessibility (Scheufele, 2000). The individual-level effect of the framing pro cess is concerned with behavioral, attitudi and cognitive variables that influence the outco me of framing. Media frames have been foun influence the amount of importa nce individuals assign to cove red issues (Nelson, Clawson, & Oxley, 1997). Empirical work has de scribed the effec med el e nal, d to ts of media fr aming on individual variables, but has not provided explanation as to why or how the variable s are connected. Iyengar (1991) explored how episodic and thematic frames imp act viewers attributions of responsibility for political issues, but it is unknow n what role audience framing play ed in the framing process. The link between individual and media frames relates to how journalists respond to the frames utilized to describe even ts and issues. This aspect of the framing process is concerned with the influence that existing frames such as those from sources, inte rest groups, and elites have on journalists use of frames (Scheufele, 1999). Throug h examination of crime news 47

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cover ns or d ponses varied to shown to be particularly relevant is in the area of scient red 6; h at time, it has expanded to inco rporate a broader definition of biological research using labor atory techniques (Bunders, Have rkort, & Hiemstra, 1996). Beyond age, Fishman (1980) found that journalists are susceptible to media frames in which a frame first utilized by a small number of ne ws media was soon adopted by other media. In print or broadcast news, frames provide the angle for a story. News frames can provide a theme or style that w ould appeal to the audience, and potentially influence opinio judgments of the news topic (Stone, Singletary, & Richmond, 1999). Price et al. (1997) state news frames can influence readers opinions and thoughts because readers cognitive res depending on how the news story was fra med. Framing also influenced how readers evaluated the presented messages by activating knowledge relevant to the frame. This finding indicates that frames can act as prompts for wh at knowledge audience members need to utilize evaluate the message (Price et al., 1997). News frames have been used and studied in a number of contexts such as politics (i.e. Rhee, 1997; Semetko & Valkenburg, 2000), vi olence (i.e. Husselbee & Elliot, 2002), international news (i.e. Entman, 1991), and hea lth (i.e. Lawrence, 2004). One of the areas of research in which news frames have been ific issues (Einsiedel, 1992; Nelkin, 1995; Trumbo, 1996). Empirical studies have explo the frames present in news media covera ge of nanotechnology (i.e. Stephens, 2005), environmental risks (i.e. Griffin & Dunw oody, 1997; Anderson & Marhadour, 2007), genetics (i.e. Ten Eyck & Williment, 2003), and agriculture (i.e. Ashlock, Cartmell, & Kelemen, 200 Ruth, Eubanks, & Telg, 2005). Framing Biotechnology Biotechnology is an area of science that ha s received a great deal of attention from communication scholars. Prior to the 1970s, bi otechnology referred to applications in food processing and agriculture. Since t 48

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agricultural and food science, biotec to medical, industrial, and enviro d in osts and scientific progre ss. A recent study of frames utilized in the Wash ers ized t ited pect as Matthes (2002) discovered ear ly emphasis on the economic, health, and enviro hnology has been applied nmental uses. A number of studies have been conducted to examine what types of frames are utilize mass media coverage of this topic. Nisbet and Lewenstein (2002) found an increase in agricultural biotechno logy coverage in The New York Times and Newsweek from 1970 to 1999. Despite a few cases of negative coverage, the overall tone wa s positive. Prominent frames included economic c ington Post, the Sunday Times, and the London Times found that medical biotechnology was portrayed more approvingly than agri cultural biotechnology. A lthough the research identified benefits of agricultural biotechnology including health, environmental, social, humanitarian, and economic, the media examined in their study utilized frames that emphas the risks associated with agricu ltural applications of biotechnology over the benefits (Marks e al., 2007). Gaskell et al. (1999) examined news coverage of agricultural biot echnology in the Un States and Europe and also found the dominant frames of progress and economic pros well as a dominant theme of health regarding a pplications of agricultural biotechnology. In an examination of how agricultural biotechnology wa s framed in German media from 1992 to 1999 Kohring and nmental advantages and disadvantages of biotechnology applications, which was defined as the Agri-Food: Pros & Cons frame. Lundy a nd Irani (2004) examined U.S. and British print media coverage of agricultural biotechnology, and identified several prominent frames: contamination of the food supply, human risk, envi ronmental risk, scientific progress, and world hunger. 49

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Priest and Ten Eyck (2003) analyzed news media coverage of biotechnology in the United States, Canada, and 14 European countries. Eight prominent frames were identified: prog economic, ethical, Pandoras box, runaway technology, nature/nurture, public accountability, and globaliza ress, tion. Several of these frames focused on pr esenting the benefits and risks of agricultural biotec % zing 1998). st effective in persuading individuals rsus positive frames (Mah me ment may jointly influence attitudes towa rd acceptance of an advocated behavior. Results indica hnology. The progress (or progressive) frame was the most identified frame in 11 of the countries and was at least in the top three in a ll countries. When this frame was utilized, only 8 of the articles mentioned the likelihood of a risk while 58% mentioned a potential benefit. The economic frame was the third most popular frame overall. When it was identified as the dominant frame in news coverage of biot echnology, 16% of the articles focused on the likelihood of risks, while 48% mentioned benefits (Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003). Framing and the Elaboration Likelihood Model In the ELM, research regarding argument quality has explored the influence of utili positively and negatively framed messages to en courage persuasion (Petty & Wegener, Health communication research has investigated which message frames are mo to change behavior and have focused on negative ve eswaran & Meyers-Levy, 1990) or benefits versus costs frames (Rothman & Salovey, 1997). Maheswaran and Meyers-Levy (1990) examined how a negative or positive message fra influenced persuasion at different levels of issue involvement. The context of this study was a preventative health issue (high cholesterol) and addressed how message frames and issue involve ted that when respondents had low issu e involvement, the positively framed message arguments were more persuasive than negati ve message framing. Alternatively, when issue 50

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involvement was high, respondents reported th e negatively framed messages were more persuasive (Maheswaran & Meyers-Levy, 1990). Donovan and Jalleh (2000) also explored the use of positively and negatively framed persuasive messages in the context of attitude s toward immunization of infants. Responde with low-issue involvement were more pe rsuaded t nts hrough positive framing of messages, consi ct ys ive camp s. cs, l e involvement and need for cognition influenced attitudes more th an the message frames alone (Lundy, 2004). More stent with the Maheswaran and Meyers-Levy (1990) findi ng. However, no framing effe was found for respondents with high levels of is sue involvement indicating that either frame choice would be equally successful in the persuasion process (Donovan & Jalleh, 2000). These studies provide empirica l support for the use of fram es in the development of persuasive communication; however, the use of positive versus negative frames may not alwa be the most practical option in persuasive co mmunication campaigns. In political persuas aigns, issue framing is a fundamental compone nt that influences attitudes and opinion Nelson and Oxley (1999) conducted two experiment s to explore different frames for policy problems (land development dispute and welfare re form). Drawing from discourse on the topi the frames utilized to present the land devel opment dispute were environmental preservation versus economic growth. The second study with the welfare reform co ntext used persona responsibility versus p rotecting childrens well-being issu e frames. In both experiments, the frame influenced opinions regarding the issue an d significantly affected evaluations about the importance of different beliefs for e ach policy area (Nelson & Oxley, 1999). Lundy (2004) conducted another study of the infl uence of two positively valenced message frames: mutual benefit and moral norms. Findings indicated that the message frames influenced cognitive processing, which may indicat e a salience effect, but issu 51

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resear selection and coverage of certa in haw, 1972). The agenda-setting hypot g is ith ot her communication theories such as framing (McC e ss media (Stone et al., 1999). Iyengar and Kinde r (1987) found that when evaluating political ch regarding how events are framed in the media can provide additional understanding of how public opinion is guided and formed as a resu lt of news coverage (M arks et al., 2007) Agenda Setting and Priming In addition to framing, agenda setting and prim ing are distinct communication theories that share some similarities in the underlying cogniti ve process and effects (Weaver, 2007). Agenda setting basically describes the me dias ability to tell people what to think about through the issues or events (McCombs & S hesis is related to cognitive psychology becaus e it is concerned with the importance people place on certain issues and how that salience is reached (Severin & Tankard, 1992). Funkhouser (1973) found a strong relationship between the pub lics ranking of important issues and the amount of coverage these issues received in the media. This fi nding supported the agenda-setting hypothesis, but also raised a causa l question of whether the media se ts the public agenda or if the public is setting the media agenda. Agenda setting can be further divided into two levels. The first level of agenda settin concerned with the salience given to objects, which have charact eristics or attributes that describe them. The second level of agenda sett ing emerged when more attention was given to connecting agenda setting research w ombs, 2005). The similarity of second-le vel agenda setting and framing lies in the emphasis on how issues are portrayed in the media rather than what issues are presented to a greater or lesser extent (Weaver, 2007). Theoretically, agenda-setting focuses on which issues are covered, while framing research studies how issues are reported (Tankard, 2001). Whereas framing research investigates the se lection and presentation of issues in th media, priming research investigates the mental processing of information supplied via the ma 52

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candidates, people rely on heuristics and cognitive shortcuts. Peopl e use available knowledge to make decisions or form opinions instead of actively thinking about al l the information The media he intere sts (Knight, 1999, p. 384). When fr aming is used consistently over time, these practitioners can oals and address complicated social a, to e journalists frame news and the resulting public opinion. Fram s; ion of assists in priming through the emphasis on certa in topics or issues that then prime t public to form opinions. Public Relations and Framing Knight (1999) states that pub lic relations practitioners alr eady utilize framing as a tool when writing news releases and developing in ternal communications. Public relations practitioners occupy positions id eally suited for framing issues in a way likely to advance both public and organizational help benefit the organizational g problems (Knight, 1999). Public relations practitioners use news releases to provide information to the medi suggest story ideas, and give names of sources for use in news articles. Studies have found a limited, but discernable, impact of public relations practitioners abil ity to utilize frames to shap the medias message (Barnett, 2005). More skillf ul crafting (i.e. framing) of messages from organizations may influence how ing may offer a way for public relations prof essionals to challenge journalistic narrative to present views ignored or derided by the mainstream press; to correct perceptions; and, ultimately, to redefine issues for their publics (Barnett, 2005, p. 358). Framing is integral to the practice of public relations because the establishment of common frames of reference about topics or issu es of mutual concern is a necessary condit for effective relations to be established (Hallahan, 1999, p. 207). Although framing research has been increasing in popularity for several decades, lit tle attention has been given to the role public relations as a source in news framing (Hallahan, 1999). 53

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54 for p. ofessionals attempt to frame the story prove media coverage and public awar eness of agricultural biotechnology. Dunwoody (1992) said the use of frames is cruc ial to journalists because they allow quick recognition and minimize mental effort. Public relations practitioners can assume the role of frame strategists who strive to determine how situations, attributes, choices, actions, issues, and responsibility should be posed to achieve fa vorable outcomes for c lients (Hallahan, 1999 224). When suggesting information for news, public relations pr to meet the news outlets preferred frami ng. Skilled practitioners are able to package the information in ways to meet the journalists exp ectations for news value, content, and flow. In turn, journalists attempt to present an issue using frames that will resonate with their perceptions of the audience (Hallahan, 1999). Summary The review of literature outlined in this chapter provided an overview of research regarding the persuasive comm unication process and specific a pplication of the ELM. Current gaps in knowledge illustrate a need to furthe r explore how agricultural communicators can utilize the ELM and framing theories to im

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CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Overview As demonstrated in Chapters 1 and 2, the American public has a lim ited understanding of agricultural issues, and the am ount of people directly involve d in agriculture and natural resources continues to decrease. Without direct exposure to ag riculture, the public will tend to increase its reliance on news media reports for knowledge about pertinent agricultural science issues. However, journalists ability to report on scientific endeavors, including agricultural scientific applications, is hamp ered due to a number of individual and organizational constraints. To assist journalists who are reporting on complex agricultural topics, communicators need to effectively provide messages to the media that contain newsworthy information in an easily accessible format. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to dete rmine the effect of message framing on: 1) communicators attitudes toward the argument qua lity, and, 2) likelihoo d to publish a specific science application, agricultura l biotechnology. To conduct this st udy, attitudes toward argument quality were assessed within the framework of the ELM. Message framing has a rich research history and has received some attention in c onnection with persuasive communication theories such as the ELM. However, these empirical st udies often present in formation using opposite frames such as positive vs. negative or bene fits vs. costs while situations exist where communicators attempt to get positive messages in the media about agricultural issues or events. Thus, more research is needed to explore the salience of positively valenced frames and the influence on relevant attitudes or behaviors regarding these issues Through investigation of how message framing influences attitudes of argument quality and like lihood to publish science 55

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related agricultural information, communicators will be better equipped to reach journalists, and the broader public, with positively valenced messages. Research Questions and Hypotheses The current study seeks to address the following research questions: RQ1: When exposed to a specific positively valen ced news frame, to what extent do issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influence communicators attitudes toward ar gument quality of the message? RQ2: When exposed to a specific positively valen ced news frame, to what extent do issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influence communicators likelihood to publish the information? Based on the above research que stions, the following research hypotheses were developed: H1: Attitudes toward argument quality of a positively valenced message will differ significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame. H2: Attitudes toward likelihood to publish inform ation presented in a positively valenced message will differ significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame. H3: Subjects who are high in issue invol vement and are presented with the scientific progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those who are low in issue invol vement and receive either the economics or health frames. H4: Subjects who have more positive att itudes toward agricultural biotechnology and are presented with the scientific progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than thos e who have less positive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology and receive either the economics or health frames. H5: For those who receive the scientific progress frame, subjects who are high in issue involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than subjects who are low in issue involvement. H6: For those who receive the health frame, subjects who are low in issue involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than subjects who are high in issue involvement. H7: A combination of issue involvement, pr eexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in attitudes toward ar gument quality. 56

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H8: A combination of issue involvement, pr eexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in likelihood to publish the information. Research Design This study utilized a 2 (issue involvement: high and low) x 2 (preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology: more positive and less positive) x 3 (message frames: scientific progress, economics, and health ) between-subjects factorial quasiexperimental design. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive one of three message frames using an online random number generator. The experiment focused on determinin g whether an individual s issue involvement and attitudes toward agricultu ral biotechnology, when provided w ith a specific message frame, influenced resulting attitudes toward argumen t quality and likelihood to publish agricultural biotechnology news (Figure 3-1). Preexisting Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology ( more p ositive vs. less p ositive ) Argument Quality High Likelihood to Publish High Argument Quality Low Issue Involvement (high vs. low) Message Frame ( health, economics, scientific p ro g ress ) Likelihood to Publish Low Figure 3-1. Operational framew ork for the current study. A factorial design was chosen in order to determine the effect of two manipulated independent variables on the depe ndent variables, and the interaction among the variables (Ary, Jacobs, & Razavieh, 2002). In this posttest-only, randomized subject design quasi-experiment: R = random assignment; O1 = posttest measures; X1 = scientific progress frame, high issue involvement, and more positive attitude; X2 = scientific progress frame, high issue involvement, 57

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and less positive attitude; X3 = scientific progress frame, low issue involvement, and more positive attitude; X4 = scientific progress frame, low issue involvement, and less positive attitude; X5 = economics frame, high issue involvement, and more positive attitude; X6 = economics frame, high issue involvement, and less positive attitude; X7 = economics frame, low issue involvement, and mo re positive attitude; X8 = economics frame, low issue involvement, and less positive attitude; X9 = health frame, high issue involvement, and more positive attitude; X10 = health frame, high issue involvement, and less positive attitude; X11 = health frame, low issue involvement, and more positive attitude; and X12 = health frame, low issue involvement, and less positive attitude. The group design is as follows: R X1 O1 R X2 O1 R X3 O1 R X4 O1 R X5 O1 R X6 O1 R X7 O1 R X8 O1 R X9 O1 R X10 O1 R X11 O1 R X12 O1 The research design took into account a number of threats to internal and external validity. Internal validity addresses the extent to wh ich changes in the depe ndent variable can be 58

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attributed to the independent variable(s) within an experimental situa tion. Ary et al. (2002) outline a number of threats to internal validity. The post-test only research design of the current study, combined with random assignment of s ubjects, addressed the threats of history, maturation, pretesting, regression, mortality, and selection-maturation interaction. Measuring instruments can be a threat to internal validity. This threat was addressed by using a panel of experts to establish face validity and pilot-testing the instrument for construct validity. The messages were also developed using a panel of experts and two rounds of message testing. No changes were made to the instrument during the timeframe of the experiment, which could have introduced a threat to internal validity. Other threats to internal validity are experiment er and subject effects. The use of an online instrument reduced the experimenter effect because this reduced any influence of the researchers personal characteristi cs on subjects. Subject effects such as the Hawthorne effect and John Henry effect were reduced because su bjects completed the experiment in their own setting, and although subjects were aware they were completing an online survey, they most likely were not aware they were participating in an experiment due to the unobtrusive nature of data collection. The final potential threat to internal validity was diffusion in which subjects in one group may communicate with those in another group regarding the experiment. This threat was addressed by not emphasizing th at an experiment was being conducted or that people may have received different messa ge frames (Ary et al., 2002). In addition to threats to internal validity, the research design also accounted for a number of threats to external validity such as population validity, ecological validity, and validity of operations (Ary et al., 2002). Population external validity addresses the ab ility to generalize the results of a sample to a larger population. Th e target population for th e current study includes 59

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communicators in science and agricultural cont ent areas. The experimentally accessible population includes members of two professional or ganizations (explained in more detail below). In the current study, it is possi ble to generalize from the study sample to the experimentally accessible sample because all members of the organizations were included and randomly assigned to message conditi ons (Christensen, 2001). Ecological validity refers to the environment in which the research was done. This threat to external validity was reduced because subjects completed the online instrument in their real world environment instead of a laboratory setti ng (Ary et al., 2002; Christensen, 2001). The final threat to external validity is the validity of operations, which was addressed by providing operational definitions and details of the procedur e to improve the likelihood that similar results could be obtained in the future w ith different researchers or meas urement procedures (Ary et al., 2002). Subjects The population for this study includes communi cators in both scie nce and agricultural science content areas who are members of the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) and the National Association of Scie nce Writers (NASW). As of January 2008, AAEA had 238 members classified as active who work on the editorial staff of agricultural publications across the nation with an e-ma il address contact. AAEA members who were classified as affiliate, student, or honorary were not relevant to the study and were not included in the sample. The 2007 NASW directory included the names of 2,181 individuals with e-mail addresses. A thorough examination of these names indicated 1,167 people who were listed as staff reporters, editors, and freelance jour nalists in the United States. This list does not include research journal editors, retirees, university professors, or public information officers. Previous studies with communicators and journalists indicate the n eed to over-sample in order to 60

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reach an appropriate sample size based on poor response rates (Schmierbach, 2005). Therefore, the accessible sample of all 237 members of AAEA and 1,167 members of NASW who fit the sampling frame were included in the study for a total sample size of 1,404. From the initial email sent to all subjects, 164 (11.7%) were retu rned due to inaccessible addresses after two attempts (23 from AAEA, 141 from NASW). This wa s determined to be an inaccessible group in the sample. After removing the invalid addres ses, the final accessible sample size was 1,240. From this sample, 362 started the survey, but 54 ha d to be removed due to incomplete responses resulting in a final response rate of 24.8% (n = 308). In respect to e ach organization, response rates were 35.0% (n = 75) for AAEA and 21.0% (n = 215) for NASW. Eighteen respondents included in the study (5.8%) said they did not be long to either organiza tion although their contact information was located in one of the membership directories. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of the three message groups, which helped mitigate the influence of extraneous variables. Random assignment improves internal validity because each subject has an equal chance of being assigned to any group and any confounding variables are distributed in the same way (W immer & Dominick, 2003). The groups differed by the message frame scientific progress, economics and health. Message Stimuli The experiment in this study was designed to te st message stimuli. Subjects were randomly assigned (with the use of a random number genera tor) to one of three messages about peanut allergen research. The topic of the messages was based on actual res earch conducted at the University of Florida and featured by the Sc ientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP) Program. The researcher quoted in the me ssage, Dr. Maria Gallo, assisted in the message development and approved each version for accur acy. Each of the messages (see Appendix D) was presented using a press release format with masthead, dateline, contact information (which 61

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was left unassigned), Associated Press style, and the inverted pyramid style of news writing. The purpose of the message was to look close enough to an actual press release without using an actual contact person who might be c ontacted for additional information. Each of the messages presented a frame, two of which were positively valenced ( scientific progress and economics ) while the third acted as a conditional control ( health ). The conditional control message was developed to contain factual information to resemble the way this type of information is commonly presented. Identified as a dominant theme and benefit of agricultural biotechnology applications (Gaskell et al., 1999; Marks et al., 2007), the health message contained a human interest lead about someone w ith peanut allergies and continues with details about the prevalence of this type of allergy, foods to avoid, and one quote from the researcher. The headline read: Recen t study explores possibili ty of allergen-free peanuts. This frame did not provide any specifics about the research process or fu ture research endeavors. The scientific progress frame has been identified as a dominant frame in news media coverage of agricultural biotechnology (Gaskell et al., 1999; Nisbet & Lewenstein, 2002; Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003; Lundy & Irani, 2004; Crawley, 2007). The message developed that utilized this frame highlighted the research proce ss and used keywords or phrases such as breakthrough, paving a new path, progress, discovery, and future investigation. The message also featured step-by-step organization to highlight the research process. The headline for this message read: Scientific breakthr ough may lead to allerg en-free peanuts. The researcher explained the resear ch process and what the findings mean for future research. Also identified as a dominant frame in news coverage of agricultural biotechnology (Gaskell et al., 1999; Nisbet & Lewenstein, 2002 ; Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003; Crawley, 2007), the economics frame emphasized the impact the developmen t of allergen-free peanuts may have on 62

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the peanut industry. The headline read: Work on allergen-free peanuts ma y lead to substantial economic growth for $800 million peanut indust ry. This message utilized a number of keywords or phrases including economics, s upply and demand, sales, growth, and peanut commodity market. The researcher provid ed her opinion about what this research may mean for the peanut industry and how commodity representatives are involved in the research project. All three messages were revised by a pane l of experts and pre-tested with professional communicators. A manipulation check was al so included in the final instrument. Message Stimuli Testing To pre-test the message frames, 162 memb ers of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) who are involved in the Writing Special Interest Group (SIG) received one of three messages (see Appendix B). ACE is a professional organi zation of communicators and information technologists who work in a variety of positions for universities, government agencies, and private companies. Members of the ACE Writing SIG were chosen due to their expertise and experience in writing and editing press releases Three messages were developed to exhibit a health, economics, or scientific progress frame. In the first round of message testing, respondents were asked to read a randomly assigned press rel ease then list the main topic of the message. The health frame was initially developed to serve as a c onditional control so it was not provided as a frame option. Following several more questions respondents were provi ded with a list of possible options to describe the frame: economics, scien tific progress, neither, or dont know. Less than half of the respondent s correctly identified their assigned message frame (48.7%, n = 19). Using comments from the respondents, message s were further refined to be more distinct, especially between the health and scientific progress frames. 63

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In the second round of message testing, res pondents were randomly assigned to receive one of the three message treatments and provide quantitative and qualitative feedback regarding the message topic or frame. Re spondents were asked to select a provided message frame that they would use to descri be the press release: economics, scientific progress, health or dont know. The health frame was included as an option after th e first round of message testing indicated the possibility that respondents wanted to choose th e best option instead of choosing neither. The messages showed improvement in testing with 73.5% (n = 25) of the respondents selecting the correct message frame (Table 3-1). Table 3-1. Frequency of Subjects Corre ctly Identifying the Message Frame Main Frame of Message N % Round 1 Economics 6 50.0 Scientific Progress 12 92.3 Control 1 .1 Total 19 48.7 Round 2 Economics 7 70.0 Scientific Progress 10 76.9 Health 8 72.7 Total 25 73.5 In the second round of message testing, respond ents were asked to evaluate the argument quality of the message using a 10-item index of attributes measuring on a semantic differential scale. A one-way ANOVA found no significant di fference between the three message frames (F2,33 = .43, p = .66) indicating that the respondents found them to be the same in argument quality regardless of the identified frame. Independent Variables This study has three independent variables one of which was manipulated. The message frame was manipulated so as to specifically focus on the scientific progress, economics, or health (the conditional control) fram e. The other independent variab les are issue involvement and 64

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attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. Issue involvement was not manipulated, but was measured as a preexisting disposition using inst rumentation to indicate whether a subject was high or low in involvement. The final independent variable of attitude toward agricultural biotechnology was also not manipul ated. It was measured as a preexisting disposition for the purposes of comparison. Message Frame For the purpose of the study, three press rel eases were prepared regarding the same agricultural biotechno logy news story about the development of an allergen-f ree peanut. This context was selected because it is an area of biotechnology that includes both human and plant aspects. The Scientific Thinking and Educational Partnership (STEP ) featured this research area in its outreach endeavors. Within the press releases, the key information was consistent in all versions, but certain facts were emphasized or de-emphasized to utilize a specific frame. Manipulation checks during a preliminary round of message testing were conduc ted to establish the me ssages as distinct and identifiable by frame. As explained previ ously, the two treatment message frames ( scientific progress and economics ) were selected based on a review of the literature (Gaskell et al., 1999; Nisbet & Lewenstein, 2002; Priest & Ten Eyck, 2003; Lundy & Irani, 2004; Crawley, 2007). The conditional control frame ( health ) was selected because it ha s been identified as an important theme in news media coverage of bi otechnology (Gaskell et al ., 1999) and benefit of agricultural biotechnolo gy (Marks et al., 2007). Issue Involvement Issue involvement affects the amount of impor tance and attention individuals give to a persuasive message. The level of involvement influences what message elements (i.e. issuerelevant arguments, peripheral cu es, etc.) a message recipient at tends to and what thoughts are 65

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developed as a result of the persuasive messa ge (Petty & Cacioppo, 1979). Issue involvement was not purposively manipulated in this study a lthough it is assumed that members of the two organizations (AAEA and NASW) ma y have different levels of i ssue involvement. Two different groups were used in order to ensure there would be some variation in issue involvement. Within the context of this study, comm unicators who regularly cover issues related to agriculture or agricultural biotechnolo gy are hypothesized to have higher levels of issue involvement. Conversely, individuals who do not report on agriculture or agricultural biotechnology issues regularly will have less personal relevance or issue involvement. This variable was measured using Zaichkow skys (1994) Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) s cale (cited in Bearden & Netemeyer, 1999). The 10-item PIIA scale was adapted from Zaichkowskys (1985) original 20-item Personal Involvement Inventory (PII) scale. The purpose of the PII scale is to m easure a persons perceived rational and emotional relevance toward an advertisement or object th rough assessment of intere sts, values, and needs (Zaichkowsky, 1985). The revised scale was selected a priori in an effort to minimize the time needed to complete the entire in strument. The PIIA presents an individual with the product of research interest followed by 10 semantic differe ntial items, each measured on a 7-point scale (a 5-point scale was used in the current study). The opposing adjectives include items such as Important versus Unimportant and Irrelevant versus Relevan t. Individuals then indicate the level of personal relevance to the object by marking along the 7-point scale for each semantic differential item. The PIIA scale has a reported reliability alpha coefficient ranging from .68 to .95 with a unidimensional structure in factor analysis (Zaichkowsky, 1994). Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology Two separate indices were used to measure the third independent variable of attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. On the first meas ure, respondents indicate d their attitude to 66

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the statement: I feel ag ricultural biotechnology is. This index used a five-point semantic differential scale with six bipolar adjective pairs: foolish/wise, wrong/right, unacceptable/acceptable, unfavorable /favorable, bad/good, and negative/positive Wood (2006) adapted this index from Burgoon, Cohen, Miller, and Montgomery (1978) to determine attitude toward agricultural biotechnology with an alpha reliability coefficient of .95. The second attitude index include d seven belief statements de rived from an original 20item list of arguments and counterarguments ut ilized by Wood (2006). Respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreemen t from strongly disagree to str ongly agree to each of the belief statements. No alpha reliability coefficient was provided in the original study for the 20-item index. In addition to preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, respondents also indicated their attitude toward the message topic (peanut allergen research) after receiving the message treatment. This variable was measured using the same six-item semantic differential index used to gather preexisting beliefs. Dependent Variables Argument Quality Petty and Cacioppo (1986) outline several subconstructs of argument quality including believability, comprehensibility, complexity, credibility, and familiarity of the message. Argument quality is often manipulated in studies of persuasive messages, but in the current study this construct is utilized to provide an objective measure of newsworthiness, which is a subjective measure of news quality. To measure attitudes toward argum ent quality, a 10-item semantic differential scale was utilized to measur e subjects perceptions of the issue-relevant arguments within the message they received. Se ven of the items were adapted from a 10-item index Lundy (2004) utilized to measure argument quality attributes, which was adapted from 67

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several scales (Beltramini, 1982; Thorson, Ch rist, & Caywood, 1991). These attributes were presented on a semantic differe ntial scale to determine whet her messages are perceived as believable, high quality, convincing, credible, reasonable, co nclusive, and accurate. The remaining three items were taken from Schmierb achs (2005) index of newsworthiness based on journalists rating of timeliness, significance, and relevance to readers. Th is 3-item index had an alpha of .80. Combining the two indices created a 10-item semantic differential index to measure the dependent variable of attitudes toward ar gument quality. By utili zing attitudes toward argument quality as a determinant of newswort hiness, this study seeks to provide a more objective measure of newsworthiness when communicators are presented with a positively valenced news frame. Likelihood to Publish To assess the likelihood a newspaper would publis h a story based on information in a press releasese, Schmierbach (2005) used a 2-item 10-point scale that aske d how likely respondents would be to write a story based on the press release and how likely they would be to use a wire story based on the information in the press release. The scores on these items were then averaged to develop an index about the likelihood a newspaper would publish a story based on the information (Cronbachs alpha = .72). These ques tions were adjusted in the current study to utilize a 5-point scale and an additional que stion was added to determine the likelihood a respondent would be to seek out a sour ce to write or publish a story. Attribute Variables In order to improve the generalizability of research findings, several attribute variables were included in the factorial design (Ary et al., 2002). These variable s included age, gender, education, years as a professional in the communi cations field, position title, type of news publication, circulation of publication, and need for cognition. Need for cognition was measured 68

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using the 18-item Need for Cognition Scale (N CS) with one item removed to improve the reliability coefficient alpha (Cacioppo et al., 1984). Instrumentation The instrumentation for this study was di stributed via an online survey using SurveyMonkey, which is an online tool used to create, deliver, and analyze online survey questionnaires. Online or Web surveys are the latest development in survey research as they become more frequently utilized. Web surveys ar e more common due to an increased familiarity and adoption of computers for everyday use as well as increased Internet access. Computer hardware and software make online surveys easi er to construct and less expensive to conduct (Dillman, 2007). Instrument Pilot Test To determine the instruments reliability and va lidity, it was pilot tested in April 2008 with a sample (n = 111) of media representatives within the state of Florida who were not members of either AAEA or NASW. Thirty-seven surveys were completed for a 33% response rate. Prior to disseminating the survey, it was reviewed by a panel of experts for face and content validity. Construct validity was es tablished through the logical approach, which measures each concept within a theory using a se t of questions. These questions are piloted and only those with high reliability are used in th e final instrument (Black, 1999). Using SPSS 16.0 for Windows, item analysis statisti cs were run to determine the construct validity of each of the scales measuring concepts of interest. In the social sciences, a reliability coefficient of .80 or larger indicates an index is well-constructed and relatively precise (Traub, 1994). This data analysis indicated several necessary changes to the instrument before final distribution. The 10-item issue involvemen t index measuring reporting on food and natural resource issues had an alpha reliability coefficient of .89. One item had a corrected item-total correlation 69

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of .37 and was removed from the index. The final version 9-item scale had a reliability alpha of .89 (Table 3-2). Table 3-2. The PIIA Scale Used to Measure Issue Involvement I feel that reporting on food and natural resource issues is Important* 1 2 3 4 5 Unimportant Boring 1 2 3 4 5 Interesting Relevant* 1 2 3 4 5 Irrelevant Exciting* 1 2 3 4 5 Unexciting Means Nothing to Me 1 2 3 4 5 Means A Lot To Me Appealing* 1 2 3 4 5 Unappealing Fascinating* 1 2 3 4 5 Mundane Worthless 1 2 3 4 5 Valuable Involving* 1 2 3 4 5 Uninvolving Not Needed 1 2 3 4 5 Needed Note: *Item is reverse coded. Strikethrough indicates item was removed in final instrument. To measure pre-existing attitudes toward ag ricultural biotechnology, two separate indices were piloted. The 6-item index had an alpha reliab ility of .97 so all items were kept in the final version. The 8-item index had an alpha reliabil ity of .79. One item had a corrected item-total correlation of .37 and was removed. As show in Ta ble 3-3, the final version used a 7-item index with an alpha reliability coefficient of .80. Table 3-3. The Scale Used to Measure Preexisti ng Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology Biotech foods are being forced on U.S. consumers.* Both large and small farmers reap economi c benefits from agricultural biotechnology. Agricultural biotechnology lacks adequate testing.* Agricultural biotechnology is natural. The process is just faster and more precise than traditional plant breeding. Biotech foods are in development that will improve human health. Agricultural biotechnology will help to feed the worlds rapidly expanding population. Biotech crops improve water quality, requiring fewer chemicals than traditional crops. Biotech foods pose unforeseen health risks.* Note: *Item is reverse coded. St rikethrough indicates item was removed in final instrument. Items measured on a 5-point Likert scale where 1 = strongly disagree a nd 5 = strongly agree. Attitude about the message topic, peanut allergen research, was measured using the same 6-item semantic differential index as preexisti ng attitudes toward biot echnology. This index had 70

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an alpha reliability of .95 so all items were reta ined for the final versi on. Argument quality was measured with a 10-item index that had an alpha reliability of .88. Seven of the items were drawn from Lundy (2004) while the remaining th ree were added from Schmierbachs (2005) study of newsworthiness. All of the items were reta ined in the final versi on. Intent to publish the information contained in the message was meas ured using a 3-item index with an alpha reliability coefficient of .94. All it ems had to be retained for the final version to be loaded as an index. The final index utilized in the instrume nt was need for cognition, which was measured using 18-items. The full index had an alpha re liability of .88, which was improved to .91 by dropping one item (Table 3-4). Table 3-4. The Scale Used to Measure Need for Cognition 1. I would prefer complex to simple problems. 2. I like to have the responsibil ity of handling a situ ation that requires a lot of thinking.* 3. Thinking is not my idea of fun.* 4. I would rather do something that requires li ttle thought than somethi ng that is sure to challenge my thinking abilities.* 5. I try to anticipate and avoid situ ations where there is likely ch ange I will have to think in depth about something.* 6. I find satisfaction in deliberat ing hard and for long hours. 7. I only think as hard as I have to.* 8. I prefer to think about small, da ily projects to long-term ones.* 9. I like tasks that re quire little though once Ive learned them.* 10. The idea of relying on thought to make my way to the top appeals to me. 11. I really enjoy a task that involves coming up with ne w solutions to problems. 12. Learning new ways to think doesn t excite me very much.* 13. I prefer my life to be filled w ith puzzles that I must solve. 14. The notion of thinking abstra ctly is appealing to me. 15. I would prefer a task that is intellectual, di fficult, and important to one that is somewhat important buy does not require much thought. 16. I feel relief rather than satis faction after completing a task that required a lot of mental effort.* 17. Its enough for me that something gets the job done; I dont care how or why it works.* 18. I usually end up deliberating about issues ev en when they do not affect me personally. Note: *Item is reverse coded. St rikethrough indicates item was removed in final instrument. Items measured on a 5-point Likert scale where 1 = strongly disagree a nd 5 = strongly agree. 71

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Instrument Content The survey was the same for all subjects except for a randomly assigned link to three different versions of the message stimuli (Appe ndix D), which were presented as Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Files. The instrument (Appendix C) was deve loped as a series of pages to minimize scrolling and was comprised of the following elements: Page 1 included the informed consent pro cedure and online instru ctions for enabling JavaScript and cookies, which are necessary to access the onli ne survey in SurveyMonkey. This information was provided to overcome any technical difficulties respondents may have encountered. Page 2 included three demographic questions as king participants if they were members of AAEA or NASW, their current position title, an d what type of news organization they work for. These questions were included at the beginning because they were deemed crucial for data analysis. Page 3 included the 9-item Personal Involve ment Inventory for Advertising Scale to measure issue involvement to the statement: I feel that reporting on food and natural resource issues is. Page 4 included the first of two indices to measure attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology. The instructions asked responde nts to indicate their attitude to the statement I feel agricultural biotechnology is on a series of six bipolar adjective statements. Page 5 included the second index to measur e attitudes toward ag ricultural biotechnology. This index asked respondents to indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with seven belief statements. Page 6 included a link to the randomly assi gned message stimuli and instructions for the subjects to read the message car efully at least twice. The me ssage appeared in a separate window as an Adobe Acrobat Portable Document File. Page 7 included six comment boxes that al lowed respondents to provide their thoughts after reading the message. Questions then asked respondents how important the message was to them personally (measured on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 = not at all important and 5 = very important) and how motivated they were to read the message (measured on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 = not at all motivated and 5 = very motivated). Another question asked respondents to identify the dominant frame or theme in the message as health, economics, sc ientific progress, or dont know. The final question on this page asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement (on a 5point Likert scale with 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree) to the statement: I believe this press release is newsworthy. 72

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Page 8 included an attitude index to measure attitudes toward the message topic of peanut allergen research. The instruc tions asked respondents to i ndicate their attitude to the statement I feel peanut allerg en research is on a series of six bipolar adjective statements. Page 9 included the attitudes toward argum ent quality index comprised of 10 bipolar adjective statements to measure newsworthiness. Page 10 included a three-item index to m easure respondents intent to publish the information contained in the message stimuli. Subjects were asked to indicate 1) how likely they were to utilize the information in the message, 2) if they saw this story on the AP wire service, how likely they would be to publish, and 3) how likely they would be to seek out a source to write or publish a stor y based on information in the message. These questions were measured using a 5-item Likert scale with 1 = hi ghly unlikely and 5 = highly likely. This index also included a Not Applicable res ponse option. The final question on this page asked subjects what their perceived method for receiving a press release was. Page 11 included the 17-item need for cogniti on scale, which was measured using a 5point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree). Page 12 was the final page of the survey and included additional demographic questions: year born, gender, highest level of educati on, years working in the communications field, and publications circulation. Respondents were also able to provide additional comments about the survey. Procedure To conduct the study, subjects were sent an e-mail with a link to a randomly assigned message treatment. The message treatment was embedded in a news release about agricultural biotechnology in the area of pea nut allergen research. The expe rimental manipulation was based on how the news release is framed scientific progress, economics, or health as the conditional control. A manipulation check within the instrument determined respondents were able to identify a dominant message frame. Following the framed message, respondents completed a thought-listing measure (Brock, 1967; Greenwald, 1968) in whic h they recorded any thoughts the message elicited. These thoughts were then coded as favorable, unfavorable or neutral toward the message (Cacioppo, Harkins, & Petty, 1981). 73

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Administration of the survey followed Dillm ans (2007) Tailored Design Method with adjustment for an online questionnaire instead of the traditional mail questionnaire. A pre-notice letter was mailed to the sample a few days before they were sent online directions for the survey (see Appendix A). This helped improve perceptions of importance and make the respondents aware of the upcoming e-mail. The letter also included the URL address for the online survey and the subjects e-mail address where the survey would be sent. This provided respondents an opportunity to access the survey immediately as well as to inform the researcher of any mistake in the provided e-mail address. The actual instru ment was then delivered to the sample through an e-mail link to the questionnair e with a randomly assigned treatme nt or control message frame (see Appendix B-2). This e-mail again emphasized why the respondents feedback was important and provided incentive to participate in the st udy. The informed consent process was provided on the first page of the survey in strument. Two weeks after the initi al pre-notice letter was mailed, a reminder e-mail with a link to th e questionnaire was distributed (see Appendix B-1). A final reminder e-mail was sent 10 days after the firs t reminder to encourage participation (Dillman, 2007). Data Analyses Data analysis for this study was co mpleted using SPSS 16.0 for Windows PC. Cronbachs coefficient alpha was used as an in ternal-consistency measur e of reliability. This measure is used with Likert type questions when a score can take on a range of values (Ary et al., 2002). Three-way and two-way factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to address the research hypotheses. Black (1999) states that this design can be more comprehensive in its examination of the main factors and possible interactions. This statistical procedure is more economical than other one-way designs and featur es the same amount of power. This type of 74

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data analysis enhances external validity by maki ng it possible to generalize to realistic settings (Black, 1999). Additional analysis of the hypotheses utilized multiple linear regression to further explore the relationship between each dependent variable and the independent variables. The coefficient of multiple determination (R2) was used to explain the differe nce in each dependent variable attributed to the independent va riables. Finally, factor analysis procedures were utilized in post hoc analysis to examine groups of questions a nd their suitability to develop several indexes (Black, 1999). 75

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CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Overview Utilizing the ELM and framing theory, the purpose of this study was to determine the effect of message framing on: 1) communicators attitudes toward the argument quality, and, 2) likelihood to publish information regarding a specif ic science application. In this research, the message was about the application of agricultu ral biotechnology to develop an allergen-free peanut. The information was delivered via an on line press release format to members of the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). Guided by the ELM and res earch hypotheses, the key three independent variables were preexisting at titudes toward agricultural bi otechnology, issue involvement, and message frame. The two dependent variables of in terest were attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish the informati on within the press release message. This chapter provides an analysis of the data beginning with sample demographics, then moves to analysis of th e variables of interest, which incl ude issue involvement with reporting food and natural resource issues, preexisting attitudes toward agricu ltural biotechnology, and attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish. Next the chapter c ontinues with a discussion of scale reliabilities utilized to deve lop the indexes that measure the independent and dependent variables. This is followed by an overv iew of manipulation checks, then tests of the hypotheses are provided. The chapte r concludes with a series of post hoc analyses. Descriptive Analysis Using online survey development and admini stration software, the 77-item questionnaire was administered to the accessible sample of 237 members of AAEA and 1,167 members of NASW who fit the sampling frame for a total sample size of 1,404. After removing the invalid e76

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mail addresses, the final accessible sample size was 1,240 and 308 questionnaires were completed for a 24.8% response rate. The response rate for AAEA was 35.0% (n = 75) and NASW had a 21.0% (n = 215) response rate. Potential Error Dillman (2007) describes four types of erro r that can occur when conducting surveys: sample, coverage, measurement, and nonresponse Sampling error is created when a proportion, and not all, of the population is sampled. To address this possibilit y, all members of the population who met the guidelines of the sampli ng frame were included in the study. The next type of error that can occur is coverage error, which is possible when the list used to draw the sample does not include all members of the population. The current study does have a limitation due to coverage error because the sample included only member s of the organizations who had e-mail addresses listed in the membership dir ectories. Those members who did not have e-mail addresses were not included in the accessible samp le and may have differences from those in the study. Measurement error, the third type of survey er ror, occurs when the questionnaire is poorly constructed or questions are difficu lt for the sample to answer. To address this potential error, a panel of experts was used to establish face validit y and the instrument was pilot tested to develop construct validity. The final type of error is nonresponse error, which happens when a significant portion of the sample does not respond to the su rvey and may be different than those who do respond (Dillman, 2007). The current study had a fina l response rate of 24.8% and falls within the range of response rates repor ted in previous studies that have surveyed journalists or communicators using online instruments (Arant & Anderson, 2001; Cassidy, 2005; Chung, Kim, Trammell, Porter, 2007). To account for poten tial nonresponse bias, early responders were compared to late responders on key demogr aphic characteristics including organization 77

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membership, current position title, type of news organization for which they work, gender, age, education, years working in the communications field, and their public ations circulation. Early responders (n = 250) were defined as those who completed the survey prior to the first reminder e-mail. Late responders (n = 58) were those who completed the survey after the first or second follow-up e-mail. In a study with NASW members, Y un and Trumbo (2000) found that 80% of responses to an e-mailed survey were collected within three days of sending the initial e-mail demons trating a similar skew toward early responses. Chi-square statistics compared the early a nd late responders on a number of demographic characteristics (Table 4-1) and an independent samples t-test compared the groups on age (Table 4-2) to determine if the proportion of responde rs in the early and late categories were significantly different. No signi ficant difference was found between early and late responders on gender, education, years in communication pr ofession, position, several news organization categories, publication circula tion, and age. Results indicated a significant difference between the responder groups in terms of membership (p value = .05) and those who work in a communication department (p value = .03). As anticipated, the difference between the membership categories may be attributed to how salient the research topic was to individuals. These two groups were chosen to ensure so me variation in issue involvement and AAEA members may have found the topic of peanut allergen research to be more closely related to their interests. The other significant difference between the early and late responder groups was those who worked in communication departments with many more replying earlier than later. This difference may be because responders could identify themselves in more than one category of 78

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news organization. These differences in respond er groups do introduce a limitation to the study and a potential nonresponse bias. Table 4-1. Characteristics of Early and Late Survey Respondents Early Respondents Late Respondents X2 p value N % N % Membership American Agricultural Editors Association 66 28.1 9 16.4 3.19 .05 National Association of Science Writers 169 71.9 46 83.6 Gender Male 105 44.3 23 41.8 .11 .43 Female 132 55.7 32 58.2 Education Some college to bachelors degree 97 40.6 22 38.6 .08 .45 Graduate or professional degree 142 59.4 35 61.4 Years in Communication Profession Less than 3 years 7 2.9 2 3.5 2.12 .83 3-5 years 28 11.7 5 8.8 6-10 years 30 12.6 10 17.5 11-15 years 30 12.6 7 12.3 16-20 years 25 10.5 8 14.0 More than 20 years 119 49.8 24 43.9 Position Title Freelance 136 55.1 38 66.7 6.57 .36 Writer for single publication 25 10.1 6 10.5 Editor for single publication 45 18.2 8 14.0 Public relations practitioner 7 2.8 3 5.3 President or owner 3 1.2 0 0 Other 31 12.6 2 3.5 79

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Table 4-1. Continued Early Respondents Late Respondents X2 p value N % N % News Organization Daily newspaper 29 11.6 5 8.6 .43 .35 Weekly newspaper 20 8.0 2 3.4 1.47 .18 Weekly magazine 22 8.8 7 12.1 .59 .29 Monthly magazine 123 49.2 29 50.0 .01 .51 News Organization Online journalism 104 41.6 17 29.3 2.98 .06 Broadcast journalism 16 6.4 5 23.8 .37 .36 Communication department 31 12.4 2 3.4 3.94 .03 Public relations 12 4.8 3 5.2 .01 .56 Publication Circulation Less than 19,999 18 7.6 4 7.1 3.28 .66 20,000-49,999 16 6.8 1 1.8 50,000-74,999 14 5.9 2 3.6 More than 75,000 41 17.4 13 23.2 Work for more than one publication 131 55.5 32 57.1 Other 16 6.8 4 6.8 Table 4-2. Independent Samples T-Test to Compare Age of Early and Late Survey Respondents Early Responders Late Responders Mean SD Mean SD t df p value Age 49.63 13.40 51.28 11.87 -.83 281 .41 Additional comparison of the early and late resp onders utilized independent samples t-tests to compare the two responder groups scores on th e independent variables of issue involvement 80

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and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnol ogy. As shown in Table 4-3, no significant differences were indicated. Table 4-3. Independent Samples T-Test for Significant Differe nces Between Early and Late Respondents Early Respondents Late Respondents N Mean SD N Mean SD t df p value Issue Involvement 235 4.24 .56 54 4.22 .52 .34 287 .74 Preexisting Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology 243 3.98 .84 55 3.85 .84 1.05 296 .29 Demographics Demographic characteristics coll ected in the survey included: gender, age, education, years working in the communications field, organi zation membership (AAEA or NASW), type of news organization, current position title, and publication circulation (Table 4-4). Several demographic questions have missing responses becau se they were included at the end of the instrument and some respondents did not complete th e survey in its entirety. Descriptive analysis indicated 164 female respondents (53.2%) and 1 28 male respondents (41.6%). Respondents ages ranged from 22 to 85 years old with a mean age of 49.9 years. The majority of respondents had a graduate or professional degree (57.5%, n = 177) and 37.7% (n = 116) had at least a f our-year bachelors degree. Thr ee (1.0%) responded that they had at least some college. Nearly half of the respondents (46.8%, n = 144) had worked as a professional in the communications field for mo re than 20 years. The remaining respondents exhibited a range of years of experience from less than three years (2.9%, n = 9), three to five years (10.7%, n = 33), six to 10 years (13.0%, n = 40), 11 to 15 years (12.0%, n = 37), and 16 to 20 years (10.7%, n = 33). 81

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Seventy-five respondents were members of AAEA (24.4%) and 215 respondents (69.8%) were members of NASW. The remaining responde nts (5.8%, n = 18) indicated they were not members of either organization, in troducing some potential for cove rage error. At the time the study was conducted, the most current membership directories were utilized to develop the sample. However, these respondents may have c hosen to leave the organizations since the directories were made available. Respondents worked for a variety of news or ganizations and could choose more than one response due to the possibility of freelance writers working w ith a number of clients. The greatest number of respondents worked for a monthly magazine (49.4%, n = 152). The next highest category was online public ation (39.3%, n = 121) followed by a daily newspaper (11.0%, n = 34), communication division/d epartment (10.7%, n = 33), weekly magazine (9.4%, n = 29), weekly newspaper (7.1%, n = 22), broadcast (6.8%, n = 21), and pub lic relations (4.9%, n = 15). In addition, 95 respondents (30.8% ) provided other responses including freelance, quarterly magazines, non-profit organizations, and book publishers. Respondents worked in a variety of positions, but the majority (58.4%, n = 180) described themselves as freelance writers who work for more than one client. Other positions represented in the sample included: editor for single publi cation (17.2%, n = 53), writ er for single publication (10.1%, n = 31), public relations prac titioner (3.2%, n = 10), or pres ident or owner (1.3%, n = 4). Positions in the other category were identified as broadcast journalist (1.9%, n = 6), editor for several publications (1.3%, n = 4) working in a communication divi sion as a writer or editor (1.0%, n = 3), multimedia developer (.6%, n = 2), and the remaining 11 respondents positions (3.6%) were those who perform a va riety of tasks that could not be labeled with one position title or had unique titles that could not be categorized. 82

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The final demographic characte ristic collected was circulation of publication. Due to the large percentage of respondents who were freelan ce writers, the majority of respondents (52.9%, n = 163) could not provide a circulation number. The remaining respondents worked for publications with more than 75,000 (17.5%, n = 54), followed by publications with less than 19,999 circulation (7.5%, n = 23), circulation of 20,000-49,999 (5.5%, n = 17), and circulation of 50,000-74,999 (5.2%, n = 16). Respondents in the other category worked for online publications (1.3%, n = 4) or broadcast radio or television (1.0%, n = 3). Five respondents (1.6%) said they did not know or could not provide this inform ation. The remaining respondents (2.3%, n = 7) said the question was not appli cable or provided numbers that could not be identified as online, viewership, or circulation. Table 4-4. Characteristics of Survey Respondents N% Membership American Agricultura l Editors Association 75 24.4 National Association of Science Writers. 215 69.8 Neither 18 5.8 Gender Male 128 41.6 Female 164 53.2 Education Some college to bachelors degree 119 38.6 Graduate or profe ssional degree 177 57.5 Years in Communication Profession Less than 3 years 9 2.9 3-5 years 33 10.7 6-10 years 40 13.0 11-15 years 37 12.0 16-20 years 33 10.7 More than 20 years 144 46.8 83

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Table 4-4. Continued N% Position Title Freelance 180 58.4 Writer for single publication 31 10.1 Editor for single publication 53 17.2 Public relations practitioner 10 3.2 Position Title President or owner 4 1.3 Broadcast journalist 6 1.9 Multimedia 2 .6 Communication division writer or editor 3 1.0 Editor for several publications 4 1.3 Other 11 3.6 News Organization Daily newspaper 34 11.0 Weekly newspaper 22 7.1 Weekly magazine 29 9.4 Monthly magazine 152 49.4 Online journalism 121 39.3 Broadcast journalism 21 6.8 Communication department 33 10.7 Public relations 15 4.9 Other 95 30.8 Publication Circulation Less than 19,999 23 7.5 20,000-49,999 17 5.5 50,000-74,999 16 5.2 More than 75,000 54 17.5 Work for more than one publication 163 52.9 Online 4 1.3 Broadcast 3 1.0 Dont Know 5 1.6 Other 7 2.3 84

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In addition to demographic characteristics, respondents were asked to provide their preferred method for receiving press releases The majority of respondents prefer online methods, specifically e-mail (71.8%, n = 221), webs ites (13.3%, n = 41), and RSS feeds (1.9%, n = 6). Only 5.5% (n = 17) prefer receiving pre ss releases via mail and no respondents indicated fax as a preferred method. In addition, seven (2.3 %) respondents said they do not want to receive press releases. Issue Involvement Issue involvement was measured using Za ichkowskys (1994) Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) scale (cited in Bearden & Netemeyer, 1999). The 10-item PIIA scale was adjusted to 9-items after pilot testing revealed improvement of the reliability alpha by removing one item. Using a 5-point semantic differential scale, respondents indicated their response to each item. In order to test the re search hypotheses, a mean split was conducted to establish two groups (high and low) based on av erage issue involvement scores. The mean for this scale was 4.24 resulting in 141 low issue involvement respondents (M = 3.78, SD = .42) and 148 high issue involvement respondents (M = 4.67, SD = .22). An independent samples t-test indicated a significant difference between the tw o groups issue involvement scores (t = -22.84, p = .00). Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology To determine preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology respondents indicated their response to I feel agricultural biotechno logy is using six bipolar adjectives (foolish/wise, unacceptable/acceptable, unfavorable/favorable, wrong/right, bad/good, negative/positive) on a 5-point scale. Responses we re then summed and averaged to develop the attitude scale. Respondents were classified as more positive or less positive in their average attitude responses using a mean split of 3.96, re sulting in 115 less positive attitude respondents 85

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(37.3%) and 183 more positive attitude respondent s (59.4%). An independent samples t-test indicated a significant difference between the tw o groups attitude scores (t = -25.65, p = .00). The mean response for the less positive group was 3.08 (SD = .52) while the mean response for the more positive group was 4.51 (SD = .43). Furthe r exploration of the data indicated no significant difference in attitude s toward agricultural biotech nology between high and low issue involvement respondents (t = -1.53, p value = .13). Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements Following the six-item scale to determine preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, respondents were asked a series of seven belief statements regarding agricultural biotechnology. Using a 5-point Likert scale, respondents indicated their agreement to each statement from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongl y agree). Subjects gave the belief statement, Agricultural biotechnology will he lp to feed the worlds rapidly expanding population, the highest overall mean of 3.82 (SD = .96). The lo west mean was 2.85 (SD = 1.11) for the belief statement, Agricultural biotechno logy is natural. The process is just faster and more precise than traditional plant breeding. Table 4-5 displays the means for each statement organized by high and low issue involvement. Independent samp les t-tests to compare the responses for high and low issue involvement respondents found no si gnificant differences on any of the belief statements. Attitudes Toward Message Topic After reading the randomly assigned message tr eatment, respondents were asked a series of questions to determine their att itude regarding the message topic about peanut allergen research. Respondents were asked to indicate their response to I feel peanut allergen research is using six bipolar adjectives on a 5-point Likert scale. The response categories were the same as those used to determine preexisting attitudes towa rd agricultural biotec hnology. Responses were 86

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summed and averaged to develop the attitude scale. The mean score was 4.36 (SD = .70) indicating more positive attitudes ov erall toward the message topic. Table 4-5. Agreement with Agricultur al Biotechnology Belief Statements High Issue Involvement Low Issue Involvement N Mean SD N Mean SD Both large and small farmers reap economic benefits from agricultural biotechnology. 148 3.28 1.13 141 3.40 .97 Agricultural biotechnology lacks adequate testing.* 147 2.98 1.10 141 2.96 1.01 Agricultural biotechnology is natural. The process is just faster and more precise than traditional plant breeding. 148 2.86 1.13 141 2.86 1.12 Biotech foods are in development that will improve human health. 148 3.72 .91 141 3.71 .89 Agricultural biotechnology will help to feed the worlds rapidly expanding population. 148 3.81 1.07 140 3.89 .81 Biotech crops improve water quality, requiring fewer chemicals than traditional crops. 148 3.44 .96 140 3.48 .83 Biotech foods pose unforeseen health risks.* 147 2.91 .97 141 2.99 .92 Scores based on Likert scale wi th 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. *Item was reverse coded. Likelihood to Publish Respondents were asked a series of three questions to measure the likelihood the information within the message would be published. The items used a 5-point Likert scale with 1 being highly unlikely and 5 being highly likely with an option to re spond not applicable. Table 4-6 displays the descriptive statistics for the individual statements The scores for these questions 87

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were then summed and averaged to create the lik elihood to publish index. Overall, the mean score for this index was 2.48 (SD = 1.26) indicat ing a low intent to publish the information contained in the message. Table 4-6. Descriptive Statistic s for Likelihood to Publish N Number of not applicable Mean SD How likely would you be to utilize the information in the press release to write or publish a story? 274 29 2.32 1.37 If you saw this story on the AP wire service, how likely would you be to publish the information? 244 59 2.51 1.36 How likely would you be to seek out a source to write or publish a story based on the information in the press release? 270 33 2.63 1.40 Scores based on Likert scale with 1 = highly unlikely and 5 = highly likely. Need for Cognition For the purposes of the current study, need for cognition (NFC) was evaluated as an attribute variable. The original 18-item scale wa s adjusted to 17 items following pilot testing, which revealed an improvement in Cronbachs al pha with the deletion of one item. Respondents indicated their agreement to th e 17 items on a 5-point Likert s cale where 1 indicated strongly disagree and 5 indicated strongly agree. Due to the length of this index and its placement at the end of the instrument, it was not completed by all respondents (273 subjects completed the index). Average NFC scores ranged from 1.82 to 5.00 with a mean score of 3.95. For the purpose of describing respondents, a mean split was used to categorize respondents as high or low in need for cognition, which resulted in 146 ( 47.4%) low need for cognition respondents who 88

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scored below the mean and 127 ( 41.8%) high need for cognition re spondents who scored at or above the mean. An independent samples t-test indicated a significant difference between the two groups (t = -20.38, p = .00). The ELM Scales Within the framework of the ELM (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986), several scales were utilized to determine the underlying constructs of issue involvement, attitudes to ward argument quality, and need for cognition. The current study used issue involvement and attitudes toward agricultural biotechno logy as independent variables while at titudes toward argument quality was a dependent variable. Need for cognition was an attribute variable that was not included in the hypothesis testing process. Issue Involvement Scale In the current study, issue involvement was measured using Zaichkowskys (1994) Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) scale (cited in Bearden & Netemeyer, 1999). Following pilot testing, the 10 -item PIIA scale was adjusted to nine items to improve the reliability alpha. Using a 5-point semantic differential scale, respondents indicated their response to each of the nine items. The scale had a range of standard deviations from .52 to .96 demonstrating some variance in the data for this scale. The discrimination index for the items included in the issue involvement scale (Table 4-7) showed the corrected item-total correlation ranged from .44 to .73. The corrected item-total correlation measures the correlation between each item and the overall summated index score. Th e alpha reliability coefficient for the entire index was = .87 and would not be improved by removi ng any item. Therefore, the grand mean for the issue involvement scale was 4.24 (SD = .55). 89

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Table 4-7. Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertising (PIIA) Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Important/Unimportant* 4.76 .54 .48 .87 Boring/Interesting 4.26 .90 .66 .85 Relevant/Irrelevant* 4.70 .70 .44 .87 Exciting/Unexciting* 3.61 .92 .73 .85 Appealing/Unappealing* 3.92 .88 .73 .85 Fascinating/Mundane* 3.70 .96 .72 .85 Worthless/Valuable 4.64 .57 .56 .86 Involving/Uninvolving 3.82 .93 .69 .85 Not needed/Needed 4.74 .52 .52 .87 Scores based on semantic differential scale w ith 1 = important and 5 = unimportant. *Item was reverse coded. Valid N = 289. Attitudes Toward Argument Quality Attitudes toward argument quality were meas ured in this study using a researcherdeveloped index that was a combination of tw o scales. After reading the randomly assigned message, respondents indicated their attitude re garding issue-relevant arguments within the message on a series of 10 bipolar adjectives measured using a 5-point semantic differential scale. Seven items were adapted from a 10-item index that Lundy (2004) utilized to measure argument quality attributes and the remaining three items were drawn from Schmierb achs (2005) index of newsworthiness. The standard deviations for th e scale ranged from .79 to 1.18 and the lowest corrected item-total correlation was .56 as shown in Table 4-8. The alpha reliability coefficient for the overall index was = .92 and could not be improved by deleting a single item. The grand mean for the argument quality index was 3.43 (SD = .79). 90

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Table 4-8. Perceived Argument Quality Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Insignificant/Significant 3.29 1.18 .72 .90 Irrelevant/Relevant 3.54 1.10 .69 .91 Untimely/Timely 3.31 1.15 .60 .91 Not Believable/Believable 3.96 .95 .68 .91 Low Quality/High Quality 3.12 1.17 .76 .90 Not Convincing/Convincing 3.25 1.11 .77 .90 Not Credible/Credible 3.74 .97 .70 .91 Unreasonable/Reasonable 3.85 .91 .72 .91 Inconclusive/Conclusive 2.69 1.15 .70 .91 Inaccurate/Accurate 3.52 .79 .56 .91 Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1 = insignificant and 5 = significant. Valid N = 282. Need for Cognition Scale The Need for Cognition Scale c onsisted of 17 Likert-type qu estions where 1 was strongly disagree and 5 was strongly agree. The data for this scale demonstrated a satisfactory amount of variance with standard deviation ranging from .73 to 1.12. The discrimination index for the NFC scale (Table 4-9) showed the lowest corrected item-total correlation was .31. The reliability alpha coefficient for the overall NFC index was = .86 and would not have been improved with the removal of any single item. The grand mean for the overall index was 3.95 (SD = .51). Table 4-9. Need for Cognition Scale In ter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted NFC.1 3.55 .92 .41 .86 NFC.2* 4.46 .74 .58 .85 NFC.3* 4.27 .87 .46 .86 91

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Table 4-9. Continued. Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted NFC.4 4.47 .73 .51 .86 NFC.5 3.40 1.12 .31 .86 NFC.6* 3.93 .98 .52 .85 NFC.7* 3.64 .99 .38 .86 NFC.8* 3.88 .94 .48 .86 NFC.9 4.08 .86 .59 .85 NFC.10 4.26 .81 .62 .85 NFC.11* 4.35 .74 .62 .85 NFC.12 3.44 .93 .46 .86 NFC.13 3.92 .92 .55 .85 NFC.14 3.93 .98 .54 .85 NFC.15* 3.74 1.00 .47 .86 NFC.16* 4.10 .92 .44 .86 NFC.17 3.70 .91 .37 .86 Scores based on Likert scale wi th 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. *Item was reverse coded. Valid N = 273. Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology To measure preexisting attit udes toward agricultural bi otechnology, respondents provided their response to six items on a 1 to 5 semantic di fferential scale. Standard deviations for items in this index ranged from .89 to .95. The lowest corre cted item-total correlati on (Table 4-10) for the items in this index was .85 indicating strong co rrelation between each item and the overall index score. The alpha reliability coefficient was = .96 justifying its use in the study. The grand mean for the overall scale was 3.96 (SD = .84). 92

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Table 4-10. Preexisting Attitudes toward Ag ricultural Biotechnology Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Foolish/Wise 3.99 .90 .87 .96 Unacceptable/Acceptable 4.09 .89 .85 .96 Unfavorable/Favorable 3.93 .94 .90 .96 Wrong/Right 3.93 .89 .90 .96 Bad/Good 3.93 .90 .92 .95 Negative/Positive 3.86 .95 .88 .96 Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1 = foolish and 5 = wise. Valid N = 298. Agricultural Biotechnology Belief Statements In addition to the six-item scale to assess preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, respondents provided th eir responses to a series of seven belief statements. These items were measured on a 5-point Likert scal e with 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree. Standard deviati ons for items in this scale ranged from .89 to 1.11. Table 4-11 shows the discrimination index with the lowest corrected item-total co rrelation at .58. The alpha reliability coefficient is = .85 indicating an acceptable level of reliability. Th e grand mean for the complete index was 3.30 (SD = .72). Table 4-11. Agricultural Biot echnology Belief Statements Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Both large and small farmers reap economic benefits from agricultural biotechnology. 3.34 1.06 .60 .84 Agricultural biotechnology lacks adequate testing.* 2.95 1.04 .58 .84 93

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Table 4-11. Continued Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Agricultural biotechnology is natural. The process is just faster and more precise than traditional plant breeding. 2.86 1.11 .60 .84 Biotech foods are in development that will improve human health. 3.71 .89 .63 .83 Agricultural biotechnology will help to feed the worlds rapidly expanding population. 3.82 .96 .70 .82 Biotech crops improve water quality, requiring fewer chemicals than traditional crops. 3.44 .92 .62 .83 Biotech foods pose unforeseen health risks.* 2.95 .93 .60 .84 Scores based on Likert type scale with 1 = st rongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. *Item was reverse coded. Valid N = 301. Attitudes Toward Message Topic To measure attitudes toward the message topi c of peanut allergen research, respondents provided their response to the same six items us ed to establish preexis ting attitudes toward agricultural biotechno logy. The six items were measured us ing a 1 to 5 semantic differential scale. Standard deviations for items in this attitude index ranged from .89 to .95. The discrimination index found the lowest corrected item -total correlation (Tab le 4-12) for the items in this index was .78. The alpha reliability coefficient was = .95 indicating its acceptability as an index in the current study. The grand m ean for the overall scale was 4.36 (SD = .70). 94

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Table 4-12. Attitudes toward Message Topic Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Foolish/Wise 4.29 .79 .81 .95 Unacceptable/Acceptable 4.53 .72 .78 .95 Unfavorable/Favorable 4.34 .81 .86 .94 Wrong/Right 4.32 .80 .86 .94 Bad/Good 4.34 .78 .91 .94 Negative/Positive 4.35 .77 .89 .94 Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1 = foolish and 5 = wise. Valid N = 299. Likelihood to Publish This scale included three items to measure how likely the respondent was to use the information contained in the message to write or publish a story. Standard deviations for the scale ranged from 1.36 to 1.41. The lowest correc ted item-total correlation shown in the discrimination index (Table 4-13) was .75. Table 4-13. Likelihood to Publish Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted How likely would you be to utilize the information in the press release to write or publish a story? 2.33 1.39 .85 .81 If you saw this story on the AP wire service, how likely would you be to publish the information? 2.51 1.36 .80 .85 How likely would you be to seek out a source to write or publish a story based on the information in the press release 2.59 1.41 .75 .90 Scores based on Likert type scale with 1 = highly unlikely and 5 = highly likely. Valid N = 239. 95

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The alpha reliability coefficient fo r the likelihood to publish index was = .90, which is an acceptable level to use this index in the study. Although the alpha could be improved by removing one item, it is necessary to retain all three items in order to construct an index. The grand mean for the overall scale was 2.48 (SD = 1.26). Manipulation Checks To evaluate the message frame stimuli used as an independent variable, a series of manipulation checks were conducte d. The three message frames ( scientific progress, health, and economics ) were developed using the same basic inform ation regarding resear ch of an allergenfree peanut. Each individual message was then en hanced with key words and phrases to exhibit the characteristics of the assigne d frame. The messages were review ed by a panel of experts then submitted to two rounds of message stimuli test ing. During the second round of message testing, the mean attitudes toward argument quality scor e (based on the 10-item index utilized in the study) was used to compare the three frames. A one-way ANOVA found no significant difference between the attitudes toward argum ent quality of the three message frames (F2,33 = .43, p = .66) indicating that the respondents found them to be the same in argument quality regardless of the frame. In the current study, respondents were randomly assigned to receive one of the three message frames. As a second manipulation check, re spondents were then asked to select one of the frame categories ( scientific progress, health, or economics) they thought was the most appropriate classification for the dominant theme or frame for the message. The economics and health frames seemed to be easily identifiable, but respondents who received the scientific progress frame classified it as either the intended frame ( scientific progress ) or the health frame (Table 4-14). This confusion between the scientific progress and health frames is a limitation of the study. Overall, 63% (n = 194) correctly identified their assigned message stimuli frame. 96

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Table 4-14. Classification of Me ssage Frame by Assigned Frame Identified Frame Assigned Frame N Health Economics Scientific Progress Dont Know Health 91 66 3 19 3 Economics 103 19 70 8 6 Scientific Progress 114 53 0 58 3 Total 308 138 73 85 12 A one-way ANOVA found a significan t difference between the attitudes toward argument quality of the three message frames (F2,281 = 7.46, p = .00). In post hoc analysis, the Bonferroni procedure was used to explore this differen ce and found a significant difference in perceived argument quality between the health message frame and economics message frame (p = .00) and the economics and scientific progress frames (p = .01). However, no significant difference was found between the health and scientific progress message frames (p = 1.0 0). In the current study, argument quality was not in tentionally manipulated a priori and was explored as a dependent variable and proxy for m easuring newsworthiness. To further evaluate the manipulation influe nce on the message frames, three additional univariate ANOVA tests were conducted (Table 4-15). Subjects were asked two questions to assess how important the message was to them personally and how motivated they were to read the message. To determine importance, subjects were asked How important was the press release message to you personally? on a 5-point Likert scale with 1 being not important at all and 5 being very important. A one-way ANOVA to compare the mean responses for subjects receiving the different message frames was not significant (F2, 305 = .84, p = .43). To determine motivation, subjects were asked How motivated were you to read the press release? on a 5-point Likert scale. Comparis on of the mean response for each message frame 97

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using a one-way ANOVA found there was a significant difference (F2,306 = 5.10, p = .01). Subjects who received the health message frame indicated more personal motivation (M = 3.06, SD = .95) than those who received the economics (M = 2.72, SD = 1.11) or scientific progress (M = 3.13, SD = .93) message frames. Subjects were also asked to assess the newswo rthiness of the press release message using a 5-point Likert scale where 1 was strongly disagr ee and 5 was strongly agree. Responses to the statement: I believe this press release is news worthy were significantly different between the three message frames (F2,306 = 11.54, p = .00). The mean response for health (M = 3.53, SD = .98) and scientific progress (M = 3.49, SD = 1.13) indicated these message frames were more newsworthy than the economics frame (M = 2.87, SD = 1.14). Table 4-15. ANOVA for Subjects Per ceptions of Message Frames Health Economics Scientific Progress N Mean SD N Mean SD N Mean SD Importance 90 2.34 1.11 102 2.18 1.01 114 2.34 1.10 Motivation 90 3.06 .95 103 2.72 1.11 114 3.13 .93 Newsworthiness 91 3.53 .98 103 2.87 1.14 113 3.49 1.13 F p value Importance .84 .43 Motivation 5.10 .01 Newsworthiness 11.54 .00 Additional Bonferroni comparis ons were conducted to extend the manipulation check of the message frames. The comparison showed no significant difference in motivation or importance between the three frames, but did show a significant difference in newsworthiness between the health and economics message frames (p = .00) and economics and scientific progress message frames (p = .00). The co mparison did not show a significant 98

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difference between the health and scientific progress message frames in regard to newsworthiness. Tests of Hypotheses Hypothesis testing focused on three indepe ndent variables (message frame, issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward ag ricultural biotechnology) and two dependent variables (attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish). H1: Attitudes toward argument quality of a positively valenced message will differ significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame. To address H1, a three-way factorial ANOVA wa s conducted to examine the interaction of the independent variables on attitudes toward argu ment quality. As illustrated in Table 4-16, the interaction of message frame, issue involveme nt, and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology was not significant (F2,253 = 2.76, p = .07) on attitudes toward argument quality. However, the three-way factorial ANOVA did i ndicate main effects for message frame (F1,253 = 5.65, p = .00), issue involvement (F1,253 = 3.88, p = .05), and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural bi otechnology (F1,253 = 22.42, p = .00). Table 4-16. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Attitudes toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality Source df F p value Message Frame 2 5.65 .00 Issue Involvement 1 3.88 .05 Preexisting Attitudes 1 22.42 .00 Message Frame Issue Involvement Preexisting Attitudes 2 2.76 .07 Post hoc analysis using the Bonferroni procedur e examined the significant difference in message frame and found a significant difference between the health and economics message frames (p = .00) and economics and scientific progress message frames (p = .02). The 99

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comparison did not show a signi ficant difference between the health and scientific progress message frames (p = 1.00). An overall means ta ble provides a summary of attitudes toward argument quality, split by high/low issue invol vement, more positive/less positive preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the assigned me ssage frame (Table 4-17). Table 4-17. Means for Attitudes Toward Argument Quality Split by High/Low Issue Involvement, More Positive/ Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology, and Message Frame Message Frame High Issue Involvement Low Issue Involvement More Positive Attitudes Less Positive Attitudes More Positive Attitudes Less Positive Attitudes Health 3.97 (26) 3.15 (13) 3.74 (23) 3.14 (19) Economics 3.46 (27) 3.03 (15) 3.23 (27) 2.93 (20) Scientific Progress 3.57 (39) 3.69 (14) 3.67 (22) 3.03 (20) Total 3.65 (92) 3.28 (42) 3.53 (72) 3.03 (59) Note: Frequencies are in parentheses. H2: Attitudes toward likelihood to publish inform ation presented in a positively valenced message will differ significantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame. To address H2, a three-way factorial ANOVA wa s conducted to examine the interaction of the independent variables on attitudes toward likelihood to publish. The three-way factorial ANOVA for likelihood to publish found no significant in teraction or main effects (Table 4-18); therefore, H2 is not supported. Table 4-19 provides the means tabl e for likelihood to publish split by the two levels for issue involvement a nd preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology and the three message frames. 100

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Table 4-18. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Likelihood to Publish Source df F p value Message Frame 2 2.40 .09 Issue Involvement 1 .80 .37 Preexisting Attitudes 1 2.76 .10 Message Frame Issue Involvement Preexisting Attitudes 2 .049 .95 Table 4-19. Means for Likelihood to Publish Sp lit by High/Low Issue Involvement, More Positive/ Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology, and Message Frame Message Frame High Issue Involvement Low Issue Involvement More Positive Attitudes Less Positive Attitudes More Positive Attitudes Less Positive Attitudes Health 2.76 (25) 2.14 (12) 2.95 (20) 2.52 (17) Economics 2.63 (23) 2.18 (15) 1.97 (22) 1.83 (14) Scientific Progress 2.70 (37) 2.60 (10) 2.41 (18) 2.36 (12) Total 2.70 (85) 2.28 (37) 2.43 (60) 2.26 (43) Note: Frequencies are in parentheses. H3: Subjects who are high in issue invol vement and are presented with the scientific progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those who are low in issue involvement and receive either the economics or health frames. It was hypothesized that subjects who were presented with the scientific progress frame who were high in issue involvement (n = 53) would have more favorab le attitudes toward argument quality than those who were low in issue involvement a nd received either the economics (n = 47) or health (n = 42) message frames. A two-way factorial ANOVA partially supported this hypothesis (Table 4-20). The inter action of message frame and issue involvement 101

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was not significant (F2,262 = .01, p value = .99), but the main eff ects were significant for message frame (F1,262 = 5.50, p value = .01) and issue involvement (F1,262 = 4.70, p value = .03). Although the interaction of message frame and issue involvement was not si gnificant, visual inspection of the means table indicated that the mean for at titudes toward argument quality was highest for subjects exposed to the health frame with high issue involvement (M = 3.69, SD = .84), followed by the hypothesized group subjects exposed to the scientific progress frame with high issue involvement (M = 3.56, SD = .83). Table 4-20. ANOVA for Message Frame and Issue Involvement on Percei ved Argument Quality Source df F p value Message Frame 2 5.50 .01 Issue Involvement 1 4.70 .03 Message Frame Issue Involvement 2 .01 .99 H4: Subjects who have more positive attitude s toward agricultural biotechnology and are presented with the scientific progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those who have less positive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology and r eceive either the economics or health frames. It was expected that subjects exposed to the scientific progress frame who had more positive preexisting attitudes toward agricultu ral biotechnology (n = 61) would have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those with less positive attitudes and presented with the economics (n = 35) or health (n = 32) message frames. A two-way factorial ANOVA (Table 4-21) provides partial support for this hypothesis. The interaction between message frame and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology was not significant (F2,271 = 2.04, p value = .13). However, the ANOVA did indicate significan t main effects for message frame (F1,271 = 6.59, p value = .00) and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology (F1,271 = 28.52, p value = .00). 102

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Table 4-21. ANOVA for Message Frame and Attit udes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality Source df F p value Message Frame 2 6.59 .00 Preexisting Attitudes 1 28.52 .00 Message Frame Preexisting Attitudes 2 2.04 .13 Post hoc analysis using the Bonferroni procedur e examined the significant difference in message frame and found a significant difference between the health and economics message frames (p = .00) and economics and scientific progress message frames (p = .01), but did not find a significant difference between the health and scientific progress message frames (p = 1.00). Visual inspection of the means table indicated that the mean for atti tudes toward argument quality was highest for subjects exposed to the health frame with more positive preexisting attitudes (M = 3.89, SD = .70), followed by the hypothesized group subjects exposed to the scientific progress frame with more positive preexisting attitudes (M = 3.63, SD = .81). H5: For those who receive the scientific progress frame, subjects who are high in issue involvement will have more favorable attitude s toward argument quality than subjects who are low in issue involvement. It was expected that for subjects who were presented with the scientific progress frame, those who were high in issue involvement (n = 53) would have more favo rable attitudes toward argument quality than those low in issue involve ment (n = 42). An independent samples t-test (Table 4-22) found no significant difference betw een the two groups (t = -1.23, p value = .22), providing no support for this hypothesis. The mean attitudes toward argument quality score for those low in issue involvement was 3.37 (SD = .69) compared to the mean score of 3.56 (SD = .83) for those high in issue involvement. 103

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Table 4-22. Independent Sample s T-test for Significant Di fferences Between High/Low Issue Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality for Subjects Who Received Scientific Progress Message Frame N Mean SD t df p value Low Issue Involvement 42 3.37 .69 -1.23 95 .22 High Issue Involvement 55 3.56 .83 H6: For those who receive the health frame, subjects who are low in issue involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argum ent quality than subjects who are high in issue involvement. It was hypothesized that for subject s who were presented with the health frame, those who were low in issue involvement (n = 42) would have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those high in issue involvement (n = 39). An independent samples t-test (Table 423) found no significant difference between the two groups and indicated no support for this hypothesis. In fact, the mean for those high in issue involvement (M = 3.70, SD = .84) was greater than those low in issue involvement (M = 3.47, SD = .70). Table 4-23. Independent Sample s T-test for Significant Di fferences Between High/Low Issue Involvement on Perceived Argument Quality for Subjects Who Received Health Message Frame N Mean SD t df p value Low Issue Involvement 42 3.47 .70 -1.29 79 .20 High Issue Involvement 39 3.70 .84 H7: A combination of issue involvement, pr eexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in attitudes toward ar gument quality. To test H7, multiple linear regression was conducted with issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, message frame serving as predictors of attitudes toward argument quality. Table 4-24 displays the re sults of this analysis and provides support for the hypothesis. The model is significant (F3,264 = 15.46, p value = .00) and explained 14.1% (adjusted R2) of the variance in perceived argument qua lity. Of the significant predictors, the 104

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beta weights for preexisting attitudes ( = .33) and issue involvement ( = .18) indicate a positive relationship between each of these variables and attitudes toward argument quality. Table 4-24. Multiple Linear Regression Anal ysis for Variables Predicting Perceived Argument Quality Argument Quality Adjusted R2 Explanatory Variable B SE B p value .141 Message Frame -.04 .06 -.04 .45 Preexisting Attitudes .31 .05 .33 .00 Issue Involvement .27 .08 .18 .00 H8: A combination of issue involvement, pr eexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in likelihood to publish the information. Similar to the previous hypothesis, H8 expects that the combination of three independent variables will explain th e greatest variance in likelihood to publish. Table 4-25 displays the results of this analysis and provides support for the hypothesis. The m odel is significant (F3,224 = 3.57, p value = .02), but only explains 3.3% (adjusted R2) of the variance in likelihood to publish. Preexisting attitudes was a significant pred ictor of attitudes towa rd argument quality and the positive beta weight ( = .18) indicates a positive relationship. Table 4-25. Multiple Linear Regression Analys is for Variables Predicting Likelihood to Publish. Argument Quality Adjusted R2 Explanatory Variable B SE B p value .033 Message Frame -.07 .10 -.04 .50 Preexisting Attitudes .28 .10 .18 .01 Issue Involvement .23 .15 .10 .12 105

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Post Hoc Analyses The data collected in this study allowed for additional data analysis using independent samples t-tests, ANOVA, and regression. These an alyses provided additional insight into the data and possible implicati ons beyond those hypothesized a priori Message Frame Identification In reference to the lack of clarity between the scientific progress and health message frames, a three-way AVOVA was conducted using th e message frames as subjects identified them instead of the randomly assigned message condition. The independent variables of issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward ag ricultural biotechnology were also included to explore the interaction of subj ect-identified message frames on attitudes toward argument quality. Subjects had four options to identify the frame: health, economics, scientific progress, or unknown. Table 4-26 displays the results of th is ANOVA which found a significant three-way interaction between the message frame identified by subjects, issue involvement, and attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology (F3,264 = 3.24, p value = .01) on attitudes toward argument quality. The main effects of message frame (F3,264 = 8.57, p value = .00) and attitudes toward agricultural bi otechnology (F1,264 = 11.20, p value = .00) were also significant, but the issue involvement main effect was not significant (F1,264 = 2.55, p value = .11). Table 4-26. ANOVA for Subject-Iden tified Message Frame, Issue Involvement, and Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality Source df F p value Subject-Identified Me ssage Frame 3 8.57 .00 Preexisting Attitudes 1 11.20 .00 Issue Involvement 1 2.55 .11 Message Frame Issue Involvement Attitudes 3 3.24 .01 106

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Attitudes and Message Frame As outlined in hypotheses 5 and 6, the influence of high or low issue involvement did not demonstrate a significant difference in at titudes toward message quality for the health and scientific progress frames. However, preexisting attitude s toward agricultur al biotechnology did have an influence on message quality between those who were more positive or less positive in their attitudes for two of the three messages (Tab le 4-27). Independent samples t-tests showed that for subjects who received the health message frame, there was a significant difference between those who were more positive or less positive in their preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechno logy (t = -4.96, p value = .00). This significant difference was also found for those who received the economics frame (t = -2.46, p value = .02), but there was not a significant difference between the two groups for those who received the scientific progress message (t = -1.98, p value = .05). Table 4-27. Independent Samp les T-test for Significant Differences Between More Positive/Less Positive Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology on Perceived Argument Quality Spil t by Message Frame Message Frame N Mean SD t df p value Health Less Positive 33 3.14 .65 -4.96 85 .00 More Positive 54 3.89 .70 Economics Less Positive 37 2.94 .75 -2.46 90 .02 More Positive 55 3.35 .78 Scientific Progress Less Positive 35 3.32 .69 -1.98 96 .05 More Positive 63 3.63 .83 In addition to preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, subjects also provided their attitudes toward the message topic of peanut allergen research. An independent samples t-test (Table 4-28) to compare less positive and more positive subjects in terms of 107

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preexisting attitudes found a significant difference on attitudes to ward the message topic (p = .00). Table 4-28. Independent Samples T-Test for Significant Differences Between Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology Groups and Attitudes Toward Message Topic N Mean SD t df p value Less Positive 112 3.98 .75 -8.29 292 .00 More Positive 182 4.60 .53 Need for Cognition Need for cognition scores were collected in the instrument, but were not included in the hypothesis tests. Subjects were split into high and low need for cognition based on a mean split (M = 3.95, SD = .51) resulting in 146 (47.4%) low need for cognition subjects and 127 (41.2%) high need for cognition subjects. Independent samp les t-test to compare low and high need for cognition subjects found no significa nt difference on attitudes toward argument quality (p = .15). Post hoc analysis using multiple linear regression included need for cognition score with the independent variables of issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frame to predict perceived argument quality score. This regression model (Table 4-29) was significant (F4,245 = 11.59, p value = .00) and explained 14.7% of the variance in the perceived argument quality score. Table 4-29. Multiple Linear Regression Anal ysis for Variables Predicting Perceived Argument Quality, Including Need for Cognition Argument Quality Adjusted R2 Explanatory Variable B SE B p value .147 Message Frame -.04 .06 -.04 .49 Attitudes .28 .06 .30 .00 Issue Involvement .26 .09 .17 .00 Need for Cognition -.25 .09 -.16 .01 108

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Need for cognition was also included in a 4-way factorial ANOVA to examine the interaction of message frame, issue involveme nt, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and need for cognition on attitudes toward argument quality. As Table 4-30 shows, the 4-way interaction was not significant (F2,246 = 1.75, p= .18), but the ANOVA did find significant main effects for the message frame (F2,246 = 6.57, p = .00) and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology (F1,246 = 3.09, p = .08). A Bonferroni procedure to explore the significant difference between message frames i ndicated a significant difference between the health and economics frames (p = .00) and scientific progress and economics frames (p = .01), but the health and scientific progress frames were not significa ntly different (p = 1.00). Table 4-30. ANOVA for Message Frame, Issue Involvement, Preexisting Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology, and Need for Cognition on Perceived Argument Quality Source df F p value Message Frame 2 6.57 .00 Preexisting Attitudes 1 24.49 .00 Issue Involvement 1 3.09 .08 Need for Cognition 1 .32 .57 Message Frame Issue Involvement Attitudes Need for Cognition 2 1.75 .18 Differences Between Organization Membership Post hoc analyses were conducted to explore what differences existed between members of AAEA and NASW. As mentioned previously, 75 respondents we re members of AAEA (24.4%) and 215 (69.8%) were members of NASW, while the remaining 18 (5.8%) respondents said they were not members of either organization. Mean s for average issue involvement score were compared using an independent samples t-test to determine if there were any differences according to organization membership. Table 4-31 demonstrates there were significant differences in means for issue involvemen t based on membership in AAEA or NASW. 109

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Respondents who were members of AAEA had higher average issue involvement scores than members of NASW. This was originally hypothes ized because the issue involvement question dealt with reporting on food and natural resource issues, which best describes the topics members of AAEA would report on most often. A lthough the mean issue involvement scores are statistically significantly different for the two groups, the mean scores for AAEA (M = 4.39) and NASW (M = 4.20) are on the higher end of the sc ale indicating an overall interest in food and natural resource topics for both groups. This result demonstrates agricultural topics have the potential to be covered by different types of reporters, but issue involvement does vary and may be an influence when persuading communicators as to the newsworthiness of agricultural issues. Table 4-31. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization Membership and Issue Involvement N Mean SD t df p value AAEA 73 4.39 .51 2.54 275 .01 NASW 204 4.20 .56 Note: AAEA = American Agricultural Editors Association and NASW = National Association of Science Writers. Preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology between members of the professional communication organiza tions were also significantly different as shown in Table 432. AAEA members indicated more positive att itudes toward agricultu ral biotechnology (M = 4.39, SD = .71) than NASW members (M = 3.80, SD = .82). Again, both means were above the midpoint on the 1 to 5 scale indicating more posit ive preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology overall. 110

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Table 4-32. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization Membership and Preexisting Attitude s toward Agricultural Biotechnology N Mean SD t df p value AAEA 74 4.39 .71 5.472 282 .00 NASW 210 3.80 .82 Note: AAEA = American Agricultural Editors Association and NASW = National Association of Science Writers. Further data analysis examined what frames were randomly assigned to members of each organization. Table 4-33 shows the proportion of subjects who received each message frame divided by their membership organization. Compar ison of the percentage of subjects for each frame indicated similar distribution across frames and between groups. Table 4-33. Percentage of Assigned Fram e Split within Membership Organization Assigned Frame Membership Organization Health Economics Scientific Progress AAEA 25.3 (19) 37.3 (28) 37.3 (28) NASW 30.7 (66) 33.0 (71) 36.3 (78) Total 29.3 (85) 34.1 (99) 36.6 (106) Note: Frequencies are in parentheses. Missing N=18. This data was further explored to disc over whether or not members of the two organizations were able to identify the frame to which they were assigned. Table 4-34 shows the proportion of subjects who identified each fram e divided by the membership organization. For AAEA members, 68.4% (n = 13) correctly identified the health frame, 50% (n = 14) correctly identified the economics frame, and 57.1% (n = 16) correctly identified the scientific progress frame. For NASW members, 75.8% (n = 50) correctly identified the health frame, 73.2% (n = 52) correctly identified the economics frame, and 53.8% (n = 42) correctly identified the 111

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scientific progress frame. Overall, NASW memb ers were better able to correctly classify their assigned frame. It appeared that AAEA members who received the economics frame were confused on how to classify it. Only half of the subjects correctly identified the frame, while the remaining half were divided between health (32.1%, n = 9) and scientific progress (14.3%, n = 4) frames. The scientific progress frame was also difficult for me mbers of both organizations to classify. For those who received scientific progress as their assigned message frame, 42.9% (n = 12) of AAEA members and 43.6% (n = 34) of NASW members classified it as the health frame. This confusion may be attributed to the fact that the topic of peanut a llergen research can be viewed as a health concer n and subjects chose the health frame accordingly. Table 4-34. Classification of Message Fr ame within Membership Organization Percent of Identified Frame Assigned Frame Health Economics Scientific Progress Dont Know AAEA Health 68.4 (13) .0 (0) 26.3 (5) 5.3 (1) Economics 32.1 (9) 50.0 (14) 14.3 (4) 3.6 (1) Scientific Progress 42.9 (12) .0 (0) 57.1 (16) .0 (0) NASW Health 75.8 (50) 3.0 (2) 18.2 (12) 3.0 (2) Economics 14.1 (10) 73.2 (52) 5.6 (4) 7.0 (5) Scientific Progress 43.6 (34) .0 (0) 53.8 (42) 2.6 (2) Note: Frequencies are in parentheses. Missing N=18. Beyond the independent variables, the two membership groups were also compared on the dependent variables of attit udes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish. Table 4-35 112

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displays the results of an independent samples t-test that indicated a significant difference between the groups in their attitudes toward argument quality. AAEA members were more favorable in their attitudes toward the argumen t quality of the messages (M = 3.85, SD = .73) than NASW members (M = 3.25, SD = .73). Table 4-35. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization Membership and Attitudes Toward Argument Quality N Mean SD t df p value AAEA 72 3.85 .73 5.72 266 .00 NASW 196 3.25 .76 Note: AAEA = American Agricultural Ed itors Association and NASW = National Association of Science Writers. Upon further examination, a significant di fference was found between each groups mean scores for attitudes toward argument quality for each frame (Table 4-36). AAEA members indicated significantly more favor able attitudes toward argument qua lity for each of the message frames than NASW members. For both groups, the health frame received the most favorable attitudes toward argument qual ity with the AAEA mean score of 4.15 (SD = .63) and the NASW mean score of 3.41 (SD=.75). Table 4-36. Independent Samples T-tests for Significant Differences Between Organization Membership and Attitudes Toward Ar gument Quality of Message Frames AAEA NASW Message Frame N Mean SD N Mean SD t df p value Health 18 4.15 .63 63 3.41 .75 3.83 79 .00 Economics 26 3.55 .83 65 3.03 .73 2.97 89 .00 Scientific Progress 28 3.93 .61 68 3.33 .77 3.72 94 .00 Finally, the two membership groups scores on the likelihood to publish index were compared. An independent samples t-test foun d a significant difference between the groups on 113

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this dependent variable (Table 4-37) with AAEA members providing a more favorable mean score (M = 3.11, SD = 1.30) than NASW members (M = 2.23, SD = 1.16). Table 4-37. Independent Samples T-test for Significant Differences Between Organization Membership and Likelihood to Publish N Mean SD t df p value AAEA 62 3.11 1.30 4.89 224 .00 NASW 164 2.23 1.16 Note: AAEA = American Agricultural Ed itors Association and NASW = National Association of Science Writers. Table 4-38 shows the mean likelihood to publish score for each message frame split by membership group. Again, there is a significant difference between the two groups scores for likelihood to publish for each message frame with health receiving the most favorable mean score for both AAEA members (M = 3.26, SD = 1.40) and NASW members (M = 2.42, SD = 1.21). It is also interesting to note that AAEA members lowest mean score was for the economics frame (M = 2.75, SD = 1.34), which was stil l greater than any mean score provided by NASW members regardless of the message frame. Table 4-38. Independent Samples T-tests for Significant Differences Between Organization Membership and Likelihood to Publish for Each Message Frame AAEA NASW Message Frame N Mean SD N Mean SD t df p value Health 18 3.26 1.40 53 2.42 1.21 2.43 69 .02 Economics 21 2.75 1.34 56 2.01 1.02 2.60 75 .01 Scientific Progress 23 3.32 1.15 55 2.28 1.22 3.47 75 .00 Index Development Additional post hoc analysis further explored the cons truction of the issue involvement and attitudes toward argument quality indexes. The issue involvement s cale was based on nine items, 114

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which had an alpha reliability coefficient of = .87. Through factor analysis, principal component analysis found that the items load ed to form two components (Table 4-39). Table 4-39. Factor Loadings for It ems Measuring Issue Involvement Items Component 1 Component 2 Important/Unimportant* .59 .38 Boring/Interesting .75 -.05 Relevant/Irrelevant* .55 .415 Exciting/Unexciting* .79 -.38 Appealing/Unappealing* .79 -.32 Fascinating/Mundane* .79 -.36 Worthless/Valuable .67 .46 Involving/Uninvolving .77 -.32 Not needed/Needed .64 .58 Eigenvalue 4.52 1.33 Percent of Variance Explained 50.18 14.80 Cronbachs Alpha .87 Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. *Item was reverse coded. Zaichkowsky (1994) also found two subscales during the developm ent of the 10-item Personal Involvement Inventory for Advertisi ng (PIIA) that was used to measure issue involvement in the current study. The items of interesting, appealing, fascinating, exciting, and involving were found to be based more on emotions a nd could be loaded to form an affective issue involvement scale. The items of i mportant, relevant, valuable, means a lot to me, and needed appeared to be more rational in nature and could be loaded together to form a cognitive issue involvement scale (Z aichkowsky, 1994). During the pi lot testing process, the means a lot to me item was removed to improve alpha reliability. Follow-up principal component analysis used these individual items to form the cognitive and affective issue involvement scales, which then loaded as unidimensional constructs. 115

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The cognitive issue involvement index (Table 4-40) had an alpha reliability coefficient of = .74 and explained 57.31% of the items variance. The scale had a range of standard deviations from .51 to .72. The discrimination index for the c ognitive issue involvement scale (Table 4-41) showed the corrected item-total correlation ranged from .47 to .63. The grand mean for the cognitive issue involvement scale was 3.55 (SD = .34). Table 4-40. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Cognitive Issue Involvement Items Component 1 Important/Unimportant* .70 Relevant/Irrelevant* .70 Worthless/Valuable .79 Not needed/Needed .839 Eigenvalue 2.29 Percent of Variance Explained 57.31 Cronbachs Alpha .74 Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. *Item was reverse coded. Table 4-41. Cognitive Issue Involvement Scal e Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Important/Unimportant* 4.76 .53 .47 .71 Relevant/Irrelevant* 4.69 .72 .49 .72 Worthless/Valuable 4.62 .60 .58 .65 Not needed/Needed 4.75 .51 .63 .63 Scores based on semantic differential scale w ith 1 = important and 5 = unimportant. *Item was reverse coded. Valid N=296. The affective issue involvement index (Table 442) had an alpha reliability coefficient of = .89 and explained 69.18% of the items variance. Standard devi ations for this index ranged from .88 to .96, and the discrimination index (Tab le 4-43) showed the corrected item-total 116

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correlation ranged from .62 to .77. The grand mean for the affective issue involvement scale was 3.21 (SD = .64). Table 4-42. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Affective Issue Involvement Items Component 1 Boring/Interesting .74 Exciting/Unexciting* .87 Appealing/Unappealing* .85 Fascinating/Mundane* .86 Involving/Uninvolving .83 Eigenvalue 3.46 Percent of Variance Explained 69.18 Cronbachs Alpha .89 Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. *Item was reverse coded. Table 4-43. Affective Issue Involvement S cale Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Boring/Interesting 4.27 .90 .62 .89 Exciting/Unexciting* 3.62 .92 .74 .85 Appealing/Unappealing* 3.92 .88 .75 .86 Fascinating/Mundane* 3.71 .96 .77 .85 Involving/Uninvolving 3.83 .93 .72 .86 Scores based on semantic differential scale w ith 1 = boring and 5 = interesting. *Item was reverse coded. Valid N = 293. Factor analysis was also utilized to further investigate the attitudes toward argument quality index during post hoc analysis. The index used in the current study was developed using seven items adapted from a 10-item index that Lundy (2004) utilized to measure argument quality attributes and the three items drawn from Schm ierbachs (2005) index of newsworthiness. In the current study, the 10-item index had an alpha reliability coefficient of = 117

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.92. Principal component analysis found these used individual items loaded as two distinct constructs (Table 4-44). Table 4-44. Factor Loadings for Items Measuring Perceived Argument Quality Items Component 1 Component 2 Insignificant/Significant .76 .49 Irrelevant/Relevant .74 .47 Untimely/Timely .66 .50 Not Believable/Believable .76 -.33 Low Quality/High Quality .81 .08 Not Convincing/Convincing .83 -.20 Not Credible/Credible .78 -.45 Unreasonable/Reasonable .79 -.31 Inconclusive/Conclusive .76 .16 Inaccurate/Accurate .64 -.35 Eigenvalue 5.72 1.31 Percent of Variance Explained 57.18 13.11 Cronbachs Alpha .92 Extraction Method: Princi pal Component Analysis. The two subscales that were included to de velop the attitudes toward argument quality index were then divided back into the 3-item and 7-item scales. These subscales then loaded as unidimensional constructs. The 3-item newsworthiness index of significant, relevant, and timely (Table 4-45) had an alpha reliability coefficient of = .87 and explained 79.23% of the items variance. This index had standa rd deviations ranging from 1.09 to 1.17. The discrimination index (Table 4-46) showed the correct ed item-total correlat ion ranged from .66 to .80. The grand mean for the affective issue involve ment scale was 3.01 (SD = .90). 118

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Table 4-45. Factor Loadings for It ems Measuring Newsworthiness Index Items Component 1 Insignificant/Significant .92 Irrelevant/Relevant .92 Untimely/Timely .83 Eigenvalue 2.38 Percent of Variance Explained 79.23 Cronbachs Alpha .87 Extraction Method: Princi pal Component Analysis. Table 4-46. Newsworthiness Scale Inte r-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Insignificant/Significant 3.28 1.17 .79 .77 Irrelevant/Relevant 3.53 1.09 .80 .77 Untimely/Timely 3.33 1.15 .66 .89 Scores based on semantic differential scale with 1 = insignificant and 5 = significant. Valid N = 300. The 7-item argument quality subscale (Table 4-47) had an alpha reliability coefficient of = .90 and explained 63.71% of the items variance. Standard devi ations for this index ranged from .80 to 1.17, and the discrimination index (T able 4-48) showed th e corrected item-total correlation ranged from .64 to .82 The grand mean for the affective issue involvement scale was 2.76 (SD = .65). Table 4-47. Factor Loadings for Items Meas uring Seven-Item Argument Quality Index Items Component 1 Not Believable/Believable .80 Low Quality/High Quality .79 Not Convincing/Convincing .87 Not Credible/Credible .86 Unreasonable/Reasonable .83 119

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120 Table 4-47. Continued Items Component 1 Inconclusive/Conclusive .72 Inaccurate/Accurate .69 Eigenvalue 4.46 Percent of Variance Explained 63.71 Cronbachs Alpha .90 Extraction Method: Princi pal Component Analysis. Table 4-48. Seven-Item Argume nt Quality Scale Inter-item Consistency Statistics Mean SD Corrected ItemTotal Correlation Alpha if Item Deleted Not Believable/Believable 3.96 .95 .71 .89 Low Quality/High Quality 3.13 1.17 .72 .89 Not Convincing/Convincing 3.25 1.11 .82 .87 Not Credible/Credible 3.74 .97 .78 .88 Unreasonable/Reasonable 3.86 .91 .75 .88 Inconclusive/Conclusive 2.69 1.15 .64 .90 Inaccurate/Accurate 3.52 .80 .59 .90 Scores based on semantic differential scale w ith 1 = not believable and 5 = believable. Valid N = 284.

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CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION Overview Research suggests that the American public has a limited understand ing of science and specifically its application in agricultural pursuit s. The media are the pub lics primary source of current information regarding science information, but provide limited coverage of agricultural topics. Those within the agri cultural industry charged with communicating about new and possibly controversial agricultural issues such as agricultural biotechno logy can utilize message frames to influence public opinion through media c overage. Traditionally, ag ricultural issues are framed as positive versus negative or risk versus benefit. However, little empirical research has been conducted to examine how the use of positi vely valenced message frames could affect communicators opinions toward the message and likelihood to publish the information. This study utilized the ELM framework to examine preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, issue involvement, a nd message frames on attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish information within the message. Three positively valenced message frames ( health, economics, and scientific progress) were constructed to communicate the development of an allerg en-free peanut through the us e of agricultural biotechnology. Accessible samples of AAEA and NASW members were randomly assigned to receive one of the messages, which featured a distinct message frame. Chapter 4 provided data analyses and resu lts, which are based on 308 subjects for an overall response rate of 24.8%. Seventy-fi ve (24.4%) were AAEA members and 215 (69.8%) were NASW members. The remaining 18 subjec ts (5.8%) did not identify themselves as members of either organization. Subjects were 53.2% (n = 164) female and 41.6% (n = 128) male with a mean age of 49.9 years old. Subjects had either a graduate or professional degree 121

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(57.5%, n = 177) or at least a four-year bachelors degree (3 7.7%, n = 116). Most subjects identified themselves as freelance writers ( 58.4%, n = 180). This chapter presents the key findings, implications, limitations, recommendations for theory and practice, and conclusions. Key Findings Descriptive analysis of the da ta found a mean issue involve ment score, to reporting on food and natural resource topics, of 4.24 (where 5.0 is the upper limit) to the issue of reporting food and natural resource topics indicating that overall, subjects were highly involved with the research area. As anticipated, members of AAE A and NASW did have si gnificantly different issue involvement scores, but the mean for bot h groups was on the upper end of the scale (AAEA M = 4.39, NASW M = 4.20). Subjects also had mo re positive preexisti ng attitudes toward agricultural biotechno logy overall with a mean score of 3.96 on a 1-5 scale. A total of eight major hypotheses were te sted in this study. Hypothesis 1 stated: Attitudes toward argument quality of a positively valenced message will differ si gnificantly as a function of issue involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricul tural biotechnology, and message frame. Hypothesis 1 was partially suppor ted. Findings indicated that the three-way interaction of message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology was not significant. However, the main effect for each of these variables was significant. Those with more favorable preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology had higher mean scores on attitudes toward argument qualit y. Similarly, those who were high in issue involvement had higher mean scores on attitudes toward argument quality. The frame alone also had a significant influence on attitudes toward argument quality. Although the hypothesis was not fully supported, visual inspect ion of the means table suggested that subjects who received the health frame and were high in issue involveme nt with more positive preexisting attitudes provided the highest mean score for attitudes toward argument quality. Conversely, subjects who 122

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received the economics frame and were low in issue involve ment with less positive preexisting attitudes indicated the lowest mean scor e for attitudes toward argument quality. Hypothesis 2 was similar to Hypothesis 1, but examined the second dependent variable: Attitudes toward likelihood to publ ish information presented in a positively valenced message will differ significantly as a function of issu e involvement, preexisting attitude toward agricultural biotechnolo gy, and message frame. Hypothesis 2 was not supported. The interaction of issue involvement, preexisting attitude towa rd agricultural biotechno logy, and message frame did not have a significant threeway interaction. Also, no main effects were found for any of the independent variables. Hypothesis 3 compared subjects in each of the message treatment conditions: Subjects who are high in issue involvement and are presented with the scientific progress frame will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those who are low in issue involvement and receive either the econom ics or health frames Hypothesis 3 was partially supported. Findings indicated that a two-way interaction of message frame and issue involvement was not significant, but the main effects for each of thes e variables was significant. Those who were high in issue involvement had higher scores on attitudes toward argument quality. The message frame alone also influenced attitudes toward argumen t quality. Visual inspect ion of the means table indicated that the mean attitude s toward argument quality score was highest for subjects exposed to the health message frame who were high in issu e involvement. The hypothesized group of subjects exposed to the scientific progress message frame with high issue involvement had the next highest attitudes towa rd argument quality score. Hypothesis 4 also compared recipients of the three message frame conditions and postulated that: Subjects who have more positive attitudes toward agricultura l biotechnology and 123

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are presented with the scientific progress fram e will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than those who ha ve less positive attitudes towa rd agricultural biotechnology and receive either the econom ics or health frames. Hypothesis 4 was partially supported. Although the two-way interaction was not signif icant between message frame and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, the main effects were significant for each variable on attitudes toward argument quality. Those who had more positive preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechno logy had higher scores on attitudes toward argum ent quality. The message frame alone also influenced attitudes toward argument quality. Visual inspection of the means table, found that for subjects who had more pos itive attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, the mean score for attitudes toward argument quality score was highest for subjects exposed to the health message followed by the hypothesized group of subjects exposed to the scientific progress message frame. Hypothesis 5 focused only on subjects who received the scientific progress frame and stated: For those who receive the scientific progre ss frame, subjects who are high in issue involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than subjects who are low in issue involvement. Hypothesis 5 was not supported becaus e an independent samples t-test found no significant difference between high an d low issue involvement groups for those exposed to the scientific progress frame. Hypothesis 6, which focused only on the subjects exposed to the health frame, stated: For those who receive the health frame, subjects w ho are low in issue involvement will have more favorable attitudes toward argument quality than subjects who are high in issue involvement. Hypothesis 6 was not supported. Fo r subjects who received the health frame, an independent samples t-test found no significant difference be tween high and low issue involvement groups. 124

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Hypothesis 7 examined the various independent variables ability to predict attitudes toward argument quality and postulated that: A combination of issue involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in attitudes toward argument quality. Hypothesis 7 was supported. The multiple linear regression model with message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology was significant and explained 14.1% of the variance in attitudes toward argument quality. The beta weight for preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnolo gy was .33, which means that for each unit increase in preexisting attitudes, the score on attitude s toward argument quality increased by .33 (t = 5.68, p = .00). In addition, the beta weight for issue involvement was .18 meaning that with each unit increase in issue involvement score, attit udes toward argument quality incr eased by .18 (t = 3.21, p = .00). Hypothesis 8 examined the various independent variables ability to predict attitudes toward the second dependent variable of likelihood to publish and stated: A combination of issue involvement, preexisting attitude s toward agricultural biotechnology and the scientific progress frame will explain the greatest variance in likelihood to publish the information. Hypothesis 8 was supported. Although the multiple linear regression model with message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attit udes toward agricultural biot echnology was significant, it only explained 3.3% of the variance in attitudes toward likelihood to publish. In this model, preexisting attitudes toward agri cultural biotechnology was a significant predictor of attitudes toward argument quality. The positive beta weight of .18 (t = 2.70, p = .01) means that with each unit increase in preexisting attit udes, the score on at titudes toward argumen t quality increases by .18. 125

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Implications The results of this study provide several significant theoretical and practical implications. Prior studies have researched framing messages within the ELM framework by comparing positive and negative frames and found that positive frames were more effective in persuading individuals with low issue involvement than the use of negative frames (Maheswaran & MeyersLevy, 1990; Donovan & Jalleh, 2000). The current study explored the use of three positively valenced message frames and found that issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology influenced attitudes to ward argument quality, but had little impact on likelihood to publish. These findings further the empirical work to examine framing and the ELM, and contribute to the agricultural communications discipline by illustrating how agricultural communicators can effectively utilize frames to improve media coverage and public awareness of agricultural issues. In previous ELM studies, argument quality was not a commonly researched construct (Areni & Lutz, 1988). However, argument quality is an important part of the persuasive communication process because it can influence thoughts and whic h route to persuasion is utilized (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). The current study treated attitude s toward argument quality as a dependent variable because it was necessa ry to gain a better understanding of how communicators identify argument qua lity, which can then be app lied to produce more effective persuasive messages. Based on the results of th is study, the frames did differ in terms of the subjects attitudes of argume nt quality. Certain frames (health and scientific progress) were viewed as higher in perceived argument quality, which indicate d that the frame can promote attitudes toward argument quality because so me frames are more salient for certain communicators. This implies that in order to improve media coverage of certain topics, 126

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practitioners should pay attention when tailoring the news messag es to develop those that are most attractive for the intended audience. Within the ELM, issue involvement is a measure of how much importance message recipients give to a persuasive message (Pet ty & Cacioppo, 1979). When issue involvement is high, people are more likely to dedicate cognitive effort to develop opinions of the issue and evaluate the issue-relevant arguments (Pe tty Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981). In the present study, the mean issue involvement score indicated a skew toward higher issue involvement and no difference was found between those categorized as low or high issue involvement on their attitudes toward argument quality. In cases such as this, when issue involvement is already at a high level, it is important to utilize messages th at contain issue-releva nt arguments to support evaluation of the persuasive communication. Results of this study suggest that while frames do make a difference in terms of attitudes toward argument quality, they are not solely responsible for the likelihood information will be published. The mean for the dependent variable of likelihood to publish might have been lower than expected because whether or not somethi ng is published is often not a straightforward decision. This may be attributed to where the topic of agricultural biotechnology currently is within the issue-attention cycle. Other agricu ltural issues are taking precedence during this election year such as the farm bill, food safety, and alternative fuels. The mean may also be low because many other factors influence a messages news value including human interest, prominence of the issue, number of people a ffected, controversy or conflict, uniqueness, proximity, timeliness, and locality (Shoemaker & Reese, 1991). The message frame alone may have some impact on drawing journalists at tention (Dunwoody, 1992), but the results of the 127

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current study found that the frame is not solely predictive of whether or not something may be presented in the media. In the data analysis process, the inability to find significant three-wa y interactions between message frame, issue involvement, and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology illustrated the difficulty in developing frames that are salient for the intended message recipient. Although the message frames developed a priori were deemed identifiable and salient during the message development and testing process with a panel of experts and individuals who are responsible for developing messages as a part of their professional careers, subjects did not always associate the intended frame w ith the one they received. However, post hoc analysis for the three-way ANOVA with the subject-identified frame was significant, which indicates that how message recipients interpret the frame was more important than how the frame was intended to appear. This implies that communicators who develop messages with specific frames may have difficulty in tailoring them appropriately in order to reach their a udience and be perceived by that audience as the intended frame. In further post hoc analysis, preexisting attitudes to ward agricultural biotechnology made a difference in attitudes toward of argum ent quality for those who received the health and economics message frames, but not for recipients of the scientific progress frame. This implies that preexisting attitudes toward a topic can have an impact on how certain frames are judged for argument quality. Also, examination of the less positive/more positive groups for preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology found a significant di fference in their attitudes toward the message topic of peanut allergen research. Subjects who had more positive preexisting attitudes toward agri cultural biotechnology indicated significantly more favorable attitudes toward the message topic than subjects who had less positive preexisting attitudes. This 128

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further illustrates the important role message r ecipients attitudes have on the evaluation of persuasive messages. Need for cognition was examined during post hoc analysis and was found to be a significant predictor of attitude s toward argument quality when included in a regression model with issue involvement, preexis ting attitudes toward agricult ural biotechnology, and message frame. However, the issue involvement and pr eexisting attitude variables were stronger predictors of attitudes toward argument quality and further ju stify identifying these audience member characteristics as they influence how persuasive messages are evaluated. Members of the two communication orga nizations (AAEA and NASW) differed significantly in their issue i nvolvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, attitudes toward argument qualit y, and likelihood to publish. Memb ers of the organizations are all communicators, but these findings imply that they do vary in key ch aracteristics that may influence how they interpret positively framed me ssages. It may be more difficult to persuade general science writers, who may have less fa vorable opinions about agricultural biotechnology, to publish information that is presented w ith the use of positive frames. In fact, post hoc analysis to explore the message frames influence on attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish for members of each organization found si gnificant differences between the two groups. Members of AAEA consistently indicated more fa vorable attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish for each message frame. Although the topic of peanut allergen research extends beyond production agricultu re and incorporates agricu ltural science, NASW members were still less favorable in their evaluations of the framed messages when compared to AAEA members. Overall, the health frame received the most favorab le scores on attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish, which implies that this message frame may be the 129

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most effective way to communicate about new agricultural technologies, including biotechnology. The factor analysis procedure indicated that the issue involvement index contained two subscales affective issue involvement and cognitive issue involvement (Zaichkowsky, 1994). These subscales indicate that perceptions of issue involvement are based on both rational and emotional evaluation. The attitudes toward argument quality index was also examined using factor analysis, which identified two subscales defined as the newsworthiness index and the seven-item argument quality index. This finding implies that the index requires additional refinement to identify what items best descri be how media professionals form attitudes toward argument quality. Limitations The exploratory nature of this study provides the opportunity for future research in the areas of framing within the ELM, persuasive communication developm ent, and agricultural communication, but several limitations do exist. The first limitation is that results are limited to members of the two organizations (AAEA and NASW) that comprised the accessible sample. Members of these organizations may differ from other communicators due to selection bias that encouraged them to join the organization. These subjects were also a ll rather high in issue involvement, which could be attributed to the self-selection nature of the survey where only those who were somewhat interested in or involved with the topi c of peanut allergen research mentioned in the pre-notice letter and e-mail announcement would feel compelled to complete the study. Although this sample was more appropriate than using a surrogate population, the sample was difficult and time-consuming to access. The response rate of 24.8% was similar to other studies of journalists and communicators through th e use of online surveys, but it still presents a 130

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potential for nonresponse error. Chapter 4 ad dressed this potential for error through the comparison of early and late responders, which were similar for the key independent variables and most of the demographic char acteristics. Chi-square tests did find a significant difference for the membership (AAEA or NASW) and the ne ws organization categor y of communication department. The difference in membership was anticipated because AAEA members were expected to have higher levels of issue involvement with repo rting food and natural resource topics. The difference in communication depart ment respondents may be attributed to the option to select more than one news organiza tion (to accommodate freelance writers). Some respondents may have not identified with this category while others may have selected this with another response option. This doe s indicate potential response erro r that should be addressed in future research. Another limitation of the study was th e subjects identi fication of the scientific progress frame as the health frame. The identification of the message frame as health may be justified because the topic of peanut allerg ies can be classified as a health issue. Prior studies examining the use of frames in persuasive communication have focused on positive versus negative frames (Maheswaran & Meyers-Levy, 1990; Donovan & Jall eh, 2000). However, negative frames are not always available for the persuasion topic and other frames may be better suited to communicate the intended message. In this current study, the dis tinction between the health and scientific progress frames was not evident to subj ects although the manipulation check conducted during message stimuli testing found the frames to be distinguishable. This limitation illustrated the difficulty in developing message frames a priori and encourages the future study of how communicators identify and define intentionally de veloped message frames. 131

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This study used a one-time only exposure to the message frame. Strong attitudes are resistant to change and require repeated exposur e to persuasive messages to influence change through the persuasion process (Perloff, 2003). The effect of the frames in this study were measured based on a single exposure, whereas repeated exposure over an extended amount of time would potentially discover a more significant influence of message frame on attitudes. The research instrument was designed to be as concise as possible, but it still required approximately 20 minutes to complete. Efforts were made to decrease the length of the questionnaire by removing repetitive questions and index items that would improve alpha reliability coefficients. The online questionnaire also included a progress bar so respondents knew their progress through the instrument. Despite these efforts, several respondents failed to answer every question or complete the final pages with the need for cognition index and additional demographic questions. Several respo ndents commented that the survey was too long or they did not have time to complete it. These obstacles were anticipated so important demographic questions were includ ed at the beginning of the inst rument and efforts were made to decrease the number of questions before res pondents received their assigned message frames. Future surveys of this audience should place im portant questions at the beginning and explain why longer indexes are included in the instrument. Finally, the use of an online su rvey could be viewed as a lim itation due to potential selfselection for those who are more comfortable co mpleting an online survey. However, journalists and communicators are increasingly utilizing the Internet and e-mail to do their jobs (No Ones Yelling Copy Anymore, 2001; Trumbo et al., 2001; Duke, 2002) indicating a familiarity with this technology. Dillman (2007) noted that online or Web surveys are the latest development in survey research and are becoming more frequent ly utilized. Conducting th is study online allowed 132

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subjects to receive the message frame as they of ten would from an online news room or e-mailed press release. Recommendations Recommendations for Theory and Future Research Results from this study suggest several area s of future research. From a theoretical perspective, additional research to connect framing to the ELM should be conducted to examine the development of persuasive communication messa ges. The results of this study found that the a priori defined message frames did not have a si gnificant interaction with issue involvement and preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biot echnology on attitudes toward argument quality or likelihood to publish. However, when the subj ect-identified frames were considered, they did have a significant intera ction. This result should be further examined to discover how researchers develop and embed message frames in pers uasive communication messages and how the intended audience interprets these frames. In the current study, subjects had di fficulty distinguishing between the health and scientific progress message frames. Further research should explore if the difference is indeed negligible or if it is only the case for the message topic ut ilized in the study. This research could also expose subjects to all message frame stimuli so they can evaluate the appropriateness of each frame to meet their preferred style of comm unication. Additional research should utilize the tested message frames ( health, economics and scientific progress) with other agricultural topics to explore their effect on att itudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish. In particular, the effectiveness of the health message frame in producing more positive attitudes toward argument quality should be further examin ed by applying it to other agricultural topics. This future research direction could also explore what other types of pos itively valenced frames 133

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can be used with agricultural sc ience issues such as biofuels and food safety, which have been covered in the media recently. When forming attitudes toward argument quality, subjects relied more on preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology than issue involvement. The influence of attitudes should be examined through further investigation to explore how these attit udes affect persuasive communication in other areas of ag riculture. Also, issue involvemen t for subjects was rather high in this study so additional rese arch is needed to examine issu e involvement when it is low to explore what persuasive t echniques and message frames are most effective. Future research should analyze the qualitativ e data collected in the current study through the thought-listing technique to examine the elaboration component of the ELM. This study did not examine which route to persuasion was util ized, but further resear ch could examine what impact message frames have on encouraging the central or peripheral route to persuasion. This data analysis would also expl ore the methodological feature of using online surveys to collect open-ended responses. Subjects responses to th ese items where typing was necessary should be compared to traditional thought-listing pro cedures that requires handwriting on a paper instrument. Additionally, more research is needed to further test and re fine the argument quality index with respect to how media repres entatives develop perceptions of message quality. This area of research should examine how news writers construct argument quality and test it as a dependent factor. Factor analysis with the data in th is study indicated two subscales for the argument quality index, which need to be further tested with larger samples. Furthermore, the issue involvement index was found to contain two subscal es through factor analysis procedures. These 134

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subscales should be used to perf orm exploratory analysis of the data to determine what, if any, significant influence each has on other variables in the study. Recommendations for future research al so include examining how agricultural communicators develop persuasive messages and what frames are most effective for various topics. This study examined one area of agricult ural science, agricultu ral biotechnology, while many other topics are available for examination. Fu rther investigation of the process agricultural communicators utilize to develop persuasive messages would highlight effective methods and improve the discipline. Recommendations for Practitioners In this study, issue involvement and preexisting attitudes had an important influence on the persuasion process. An individua ls issue involvement can impact the ability of a persuasive message to develop supportive or contrary thoughts in regard to a message topic. Also, the attitudes one has prior to receiving a persuasive message af fect how the message arguments are interpreted. To produce the most effective persuasive communication messages, practitioners need to understand these characteristics about th eir audience members. It may be difficult to change the issue involvement or preexisting at titudes, but the persuasive messages can be adjusted over time to be more effective. This study found that how communicators de velop message frames is not always consistent with how message recipients interpret these frames. For practitioners, this means that more attention should be paid to the development of message frames that are consistent with the messages intentions. When charged with commun icating scientific information to the media, communicators need to tailor the messages so they are viewed as higher in argument quality that will encourage journalists to pay attention to the information. 135

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As mentioned in Chapter 1, the STEP program at the University of Florida is an example of an effort to improve the dissemination of scie ntific results to a broa der audience. The use of online technology to do so is an effective met hod to reach journalists and other interested audience members. As the results of this st udy found, respondents indicated e-mail was their preferred method to receive press releases, foll owed by websites. With this preference in mind, practitioners need to make an effort to devel op e-mail lists of contacts for press releases and incorporate the information within the text of the e-mail, not as an attachment. Additionally, emphasis should be placed on how the message is fr amed within the press release to encourage recipients to read it and utilize the information in subsequent communication. Based on the results of this study, when developing communication me ssages, agricultural communicators need to examine how they frame ag ricultural topics and e xplore the use of the health frame. Most consumers are well removed from the agrarian lifestyle and view agriculture as only a source of food. This he uristic should be nurtured by addressing the health angle of agricultural topics. The media atte ntion given to natural and organi c foods today has made health more salient for consumers and driven their desire to know more about what they eat. It may also be necessary for agricultural communicators to utilize more than one message frame for a particular topic depending on th e intended receiver. Issue involvement and preexisting attitudes are individual differen ce variables and communicators will be more effective in having their messages used if they ar e able to tailor them, through the use of frames, to effectively reach segmented audiences. Th e opportunity to positively frame agricultural science topics, especially those that are controve rsial, in a way that encourages their adoption would do much to improve the publics awaren ess and understanding of agricultural issues. 136

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Conclusions This study examined the interaction of issu e involvement, preexisting attitudes toward agricultural biotechnology, and message frames on attitudes toward argument quality and likelihood to publish. How persuasive messages are framed influences attitudes toward argument quality, which is related to the amount of cogn itive processing undertaken and the route to persuasion utilized with the ELM. While issue in volvement and preexisting attitudes are harder to change, agricultural communicators can pl ace emphasis on the development of effective message frames that promote agricultural issues including those that are more controversial agricultural science topics such as agricultural biotechnology. The results of this study i ndicate potential for agricultu ral communicators to utilize persuasive communication to influence attitude s toward argument quality. While the likelihood to publish information remains a complex deci sion-making process, communicators can be proactive in making their messages more attractiv e to those who make the decision to include information in the media by paying attention to how messages are framed. When tailoring persuasive communication messa ges, practitioners still need to be cognizant of their audiences indivi dual differences and use this information to develop effective messages and communication strategies. There will never be one right way to present scientific information and constant attention is needed to produce messages that are most effective. 137

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APPENDIX A PRE-NOTICE LETTER 138

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139 Figure A-1. Pre-notice letter

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APPENDIX B E-MAIL CONTACTS Message testing e-mail Hello member of the ACE Writing SIG, My name is Courtney Meyers and I am a doctoral candidate at the Univers ity of Florida. For my dissertation, I am conducting a research proj ect to gain a better understanding of how communicators perceive information regarding research being done on the development of a hypoallergenic peanut. In preparation for my study, I have developed an online press release about th is research project. As a professional communicator, your input is greatly appreciated in evaluating this message to ensure it is an effective presentation of the information. You were randomly selected from the ACE Writing SIG to receive a short survey. Please click the link to be connected to a web-based questionnai re that contains the pr ess release and a series of questions regarding its content. This survey will take no more than 10 minutes to complete and I would greatly appreciate your f eedback by next Friday, March 21. LINK Thank you in advance for your feedback in the development of this communication material. Sincerely, Courtney Meyers 140

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Survey contact e-mail Subject: Brief Survey from University of Florida Hello. My name is Courtney Meyers, and I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida currently researching communicat ors opinions and perceptions of how findings about the development on an allergen-free peanut should be disseminated. Hopefully, you received a letter in the mail informing you of this study. You have been randomly selected to participate in a brief online survey. The results of this survey will be used to enhan ce communication efforts related to peanut allergen research. Your response is crucial to the success of this st udy and will make a significant impact in better understanding communicators opinions and preferen ces regarding informa tion about scientific advances. I realize your time is incredibly valuable so this survey has been designed to be as concise as possible and should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. Your responses will remain confidential and all results will be presented in summary format. If you have any questions, please contact me at 352-392-4680 or cameyers@ufl.edu To fill out the survey, please click on the link below: LINK Thank you for your feedback. It is much apprecia ted and will contribute significantly to this research project and the future impr ovement of communication efforts. Sincerely, Courtney Meyers 141

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Text for follow-up e-mail Subject: Reminder: Brief Survey from University of Florida Date Last week a link to a web-based questionnaire was sent to you seek ing your opinions and perceptions of how findings about the development on an alle rgen-free peanut should be disseminated. If you have already completed the questionnaire please accept my sincere thanks. If you have not, please do so at your earliest convenience. I am esp ecially grateful for your help because it is only by asking people like you to share your experiences that we can enhance communication efforts in related areas. In case you have misplaced the original e-mail, a link to the survey is provided below. LINK Thank you again for your participation. Sincerely, Courtney Meyers 142

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APPENDIX C INSTRUMENT 143

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APPENDIX D MESSAGE VERSIONS 159

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Figure D-1. Health Message 160

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Figure D-2. Economics Message 161

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162 Figure D-3. Scientific Progress Message

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH The author was born Courtney Alyssa Wimmer in 1980, in Fort Scott, Kansas. She grew up in Fulton, a small town in southeastern Kansas. Her family includes her parents, Gary and Sheila Wimmer; a twin sister, Gaea; a brother, Zach; and a younger sister, Sheridan. Her interest in agricultural communications was nurtured th rough involvement in FFA at Jayhawk-Linn High School in Mound City, Kansas, where she graduated in 1999. In August 1999, Courtney began her college caree r at Kansas State University majoring in agricultural communications and journalism. Wh ile at K-State, Courtney worked for the International Grains Program and was active in Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated summa cum laude in May 2003. In August 2003, Courtney continued her educat ion at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. While earning her masters degree in agricultural and extension education, she spent a summer working for the Scottish Agricultura l College in Edinburgh, Scotland. Courtney was selected as the Dale Bumpers College of Agricu ltural and Life Sciences Masters Scholar when she graduated in 2005. After completing her masters degree, Courtney married Dani el Meyers in June 2005, and moved to Gainesville, Florida, to pursue her doctoral degree in agricultural communications. Courtney received the Univers ity of Florida Alumni Academ ic Fellowship to support her doctoral education in the Department of Agri cultural Education and Communication. During her degree program, Courtney taught or assisted clas ses in technical writing, Web and print design, and communication campaign development. She c onducted research in Web and print material evaluation, scholarship of teaching and learning, media coverage of agricultural issues, and public awareness of agricultural topics.

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Courtney and her husband welcomed their firs t child, Isabel Ashle y, in 2008. In August, Courtney will begin her faculty care er at Texas Tech University as an assistant pr ofessor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, teaching agricultural communications.