Date of Graduation

7-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Geoboo Song

Committee Member

William Schreckhise

Second Committee Member

Michael D. Jones

Third Committee Member

Brinck Kerr

Keywords

Decision-Making, Hydraulic Fracturing, Knowledge, Policy Elites, Risk Perceptions, Trust

Abstract

This dissertation examines the ways in which cultural value predispositions impact decision-making associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) among both local policy elites and the general public in Arkansas and Oregon. First, I examine the mediating role of (dis)trust in information provided by three groups associated with the fracking debate – the energy industry, environmental groups, and the government – in shaping benefit-risk perceptions associated with fracking, and compare this process between a sample of local policy elites and the general public in Arkansas and Oregon. Findings indicate that perceptions of trustworthiness are shaped by cultural value predispositions which, in turn, shape perceptions of benefits and risks associated with fracking. Further, this process is similar, yet distinct, between local policy elites and the general public, with trust – particularly distrust – playing a larger role in shaping benefit-risk perceptions for local policy elites as compared to the general public. I then further examine the origins of trust in sources of information, focusing on local policy elites. For this, I introduce the concept of perceived value congruence – the extent to which an individual believes their values are congruent with the values of those in their community – to examine how the perceived fit of values between an individual and those of their community impacts the relationship between cultural value predispositions and trust in two distinct contexts, Arkansas and Oregon. Broadly, findings indicate that both perceived value congruence and the context an individual is nested in affect the relationship between cultural value predispositions and trust in information provided by different sources. Finally, culturally nuanced narratives and knowledge (in)congruence – the degree to which an individual accurately assesses their knowledge levels of a given issue – are examined as moderators of the relationship between cultural value predispositions and fracking policy preferences. Results indicate that narratives impact the relationships between cultural value predispositions and policy preferences, but do not directly impact policy preferences. Further, cultural value predispositions impact fracking policy preferences differently for those overestimating their policy-relevant knowledge versus those underestimating their policy-relevant knowledge.

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