This study explored how people publically engage with a politicized science issue in a social media environment. In exploring this engagement, this studied identified new types of pseudo-activism phenomena generated by participants and proposed the concept of instant activism. Instant activism suggests that sensational cues initiate heuristic information processing in the lay public. This study suggested that instant publics perform supportive actions as a reaction to instant activism. Further, this study examined the effect of social media hoaxes as a non-profit organization's wicked tool. For purposes of this study, GMO (genetically modification organisms) labeling in the US was explored as the politicized science issue. Grounded in two different theories, this study empirically examined both the perceptual and behavioral consequences of the new type of activism for the publics involved. Using motivated reasoning theory, Study 1 explored the development of instant activism by following the individuals’ cognitive process. Results demonstrated that exposure to a hoax strategy had a significant impact on motivating participants to quickly process and respond to GMO labeling issues. Study 2 addressed the behavioral aspects of the instant public, building on the situational theory of problem solving. Results indicated that exposure to a hoax increased an individual’s active communicative actions but had no effect on that individual’s passive actions and embedded principles regarding GMO labeling issues. This early attempt to empirically examine social media hoaxes and GMO labeling issues discussed the theoretical and practical implications of the results.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. July 2017. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Hyejoon Rim. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 152 pages.
Effects of Instant Activism: How Social Media Hoaxes Mobilize Publics on GMO labeling Issues.
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