Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Holly K. Overton


This study applied the STOPS theory and tested the mechanism of problem chain recognition effect in the realm of environmental corporate communication. Using environmental issue salience and issue proximity as two manipulated variables, this study conducted an experiment to examine the mechanism of the problem chain recognition (PCR) effect, which suggested that the perception of a more salient issue (climate change) will be transferred to related less salient issues (air pollution/land degradation). Thus, through a 2 (issue salience: salient vs. non-salient) × 2 (issue proximity: local vs. global) experimental design, this study suggested that if individuals have high motivation for climate change problem, they are more likely to perceive and talk about other related lesser known environmental issues, and are also likely to have environmental CSR supportive behavioral intentions. Notably, the location of the environmental issue has an important impact only on individuals’ problem recognition for environmental issues and it leads to only passive communicative behavior. Whereas, involvement recognition leads to both active as well as passive communicative behavior. Theoretical implications related to the STOPS are explained. Practical implications are discussed for environmentalists for developing effective message strategies to increase public engagement with environmental issues. Also, using the PCR effect, public relations professionals can identify and target their key stakeholders effectively for garnering their support for salient as well as non-salient issues.