Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Sub-Department

College of Information and Communications

First Advisor

Sei-Hill Kim

Abstract

The current study was initially designed to look at how the issue of marijuana legalization was presented in U.S. newspapers and how news frames could influence the audiences’ attitudes or behavioral intentions. To investigate these questions, two different types of research methods were employed: content analysis and experiment. Using framing theory as a theoretical framework, this study found that marijuana legalization has been largely described as a legislation issue or a law enforcement issue, and medical benefit and medical risk were most frequently mentioned attributes to support and oppose marijuana legalization. Findings indicated that news frame could influence the public’s attitudes toward marijuana legalization. Also, this study found as a two-sided frame effect, respondents who read a two-sided frame showed the middle ground between those who read a support frame and those who read an opposition frame. Individual marijuana experience did not moderate the framing effects on attitudes toward marijuana legalization. However, findings showed that marijuana experience played an important role in shaping attitudes. Using the mediation model, this study showed that significant indirect effects on behavioral intention to use medical and recreational marijuana and support for medical and recreational marijuana through two each mediating path: via attitudes and via attitudes and risk perceptions.

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