Date of Graduation

5-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Communication

Advisor

Myria Allen

Committee Member

Ron Warren

Second Committee Member

Stephanie Schulte

Keywords

Affective Intelligence Theory, Climate Change, Emotion, Framing, Social Media

Abstract

Climate change remains a highly polarized topic in the United States. Research suggests that the divide in climate change beliefs is partly a result of news media’s representation of select aspects of the problem, or framing. Frames influence individuals’ attitudes, emotions, and behaviors towards climate change. Overwhelming representation of certain climate change frames has led to a lack of emotional connection to the issue, resulting in inaction or dismissal. Climate change researchers have investigated the presence and effects of frames on both news media and select social media sites, particularly Twitter. However, little research has investigated the climate change conversation on other social media sites, such as Reddit. Reddit is a community-based social media site whose users represent a unique demographic in the United States. Reddit users rely heavily on Reddit for news and are highly engaged with the site. Unlike Twitter, Reddit does not have a small character limit on posts, allowing for longer conversation and a potential for greater peer influence. Using both human coders and computer-aided textual analysis, this thesis investigated which climate change frames are the most popular on Reddit and which emotions appear most frequently in the discussion sections of those posts. This study sampled posts from six subreddits that represent a range of climate change stances. The data found that political/ideological struggle was the most common frame and that anger was the most expressed emotion. Further results and implications are discussed.

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