Date of Graduation

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Political Science (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Political Science

Advisor

Geoboo Song

Committee Member

William Schreckhise

Second Committee Member

Brinck Kerr

Abstract

This thesis examines the process by which cultural value predispositions influence perceptions of risks and benefits of energy policies, specifically focusing on High Voltage Power Line (HVPL) installations and Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking). For HVPL installations I examine the role of (dis)trust in three groups associated with the HVPL debate – the government, environmental groups, and the energy industry – in determining risk and benefit perceptions of HVPL installation. Findings indicate that cultural value predispositions guide policy elites’ perceptions of trustworthiness. Further, this trust, in turn, guides perceptions of risks and benefits of HVPL installations, partially mediating the effects of cultural value predispositions on risk and benefit perceptions. For fracking, I introduce the concept of knowledge hubris and examine the cultural value-based origins of knowledge hubris and the resulting role knowledge hubris plays in predicting risk and benefit perceptions associated with fracking. Further, I compare the role of knowledge hubris in risk and benefit assessments between a sample of the general public and local policy elites. Results indicate that the origins of knowledge hubris are similar between local policy elites and the general public. However, the influence of this knowledge hubris on risk and benefit perceptions of fracking is different between the two groups.

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