Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



This research provides the first experimental investigation of the ways in which ideological and relational motives influence interpersonal risk communication. Drawing on the literatures in social and cognitive psychology, risk communication, and environmental decision making, this research examined whether individuals expressing concerns about tradeoffs between climate change adaptation and prevention were less likely to share climate change information with others if the information discussed adaptation policies. Participants were presented with an article about climate change framed as either relating to adaptation or prevention. Their willingness to share the article with others was measured, as well as their appraisals of how they thought others would respond to the message (e.g., increase or decrease their environmental behavior) and how others would evaluate oneself for sharing the message. Concerns about tradeoffs and sensitivity to social rejection were measured prior to the experimental procedure. Results yielded partial support for the hypotheses, with concern about tradeoffs negatively influencing attitudes toward sharing of the adaptation-related article. Hypothesized interaction effects with concerns about social rejection were not supported. Exploratory analyses revealed that the perception that others in one’s social network holds similar or dissimilar views to oneself about climate change emerged as an important moderator of the effects of concern about tradeoffs on sharing intentions. Limitations and future directions for research on interpersonal risk communication are discussed.

First Advisor

Brian Lickel