Social amplification of problem chain-recognition effect on public policies: Escalated issue spillover from government distrust and media use

Chun-ju Flora Hung-Baesecke, Yi Ru Regina Chen, Jeong-Nam Kim

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


Advanced management of risk controversies is of pressing need because risk controversies cause tangible and intangible losses to society as a whole. The current study tested the problem chain-recognition effect on policies involving highly-publicized risk controversies. Problem chain-recognition effect refers to the perceptual tendency that people are likely to recognize similar or related issues to an identified problem as problematic because problems are often connected together and embedded within a larger network of problems. This effect is easily triggered when an individual actively seeks, exchanges, and discusses information about a perceived problem., For this study, an online survey of 748 citizens in a Chinese society was conducted, employing Kim and Grunig’s (2011) situational theory of problem solving and Kasperson et al.’s (1998) social amplification of risks. Results indicated an existing problem-chain recognition effect from the US beef import policy (a food risk controversy) to the policy concerning nuclear power plant construction (a technological risk controversy) among the hot-issue public built around the US beef issue. The problem-chain recognition effect led to the public’s paying attention to information on the nuclear power plant controversy but not to their seeking behavior for such information. The effect was amplified by individuals’ low trust in the government rather than their level of media use. Theoretical and practical implications suggested by the findings were discussed for strategic risk management and a better understanding of hot-issue publics in risk situations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 18th International Public Relations Research Conference
EditorsZifei Fay Chen, Yi Grace Ji, Zongchao Cathy Li
PublisherInternational Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC)
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015
Event18th International Public Relations Research Conference, IPRRC 2015: Emerging Theory, Methods, and Applications: Toward Professional Standards for Research and Practice - Holiday Inn University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, United States
Duration: 4 Mar 20158 Mar 2015


Conference18th International Public Relations Research Conference, IPRRC 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCoral Gables, Florida
Internet address


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