Effect of Rational and Emotional Framing on Highly Involved Audience in Severe Crisis Situation: An Experimental Study on MH370

Dayang Aizza Maisha Abang Ahmad, Noratikah Mohamad Ashari, Mus Chairil Samani


Rational and Emotional framing is an important crisis response strategy (CRS) used by organisations in its effort to minimize damage and reputational threat of a crisis.  The framing effect of a message is crucial not only in influencing the audience attitude towards the organization, but also behaviour. Using one of Malaysia’s most high profiled crises MH370 as a crisis scenario, this study examines the effect of framing used by Malaysia Airlines System in its crisis communication effort on Facebook.  Facebook is one of the prominent social media platforms used by organizations in time of crisis. Despite its ability to facilitate immediacy and interactivity, the messages that are spread within the dynamic setting of Facebook however could also create contradicting outcome for the organization.  This present study seeks to examine the effect of rational and emotional framing from the perspective of Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT).  Cognizant to the influencing factor of audience involvement on the effect of framing, this study incorporates Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) in examining audience response towards the organization by taking into consideration audience different motivation to message processing. The convergence of SCCT and ELM has made this study significant as it advances the explication of potential crisis communication effects by underscoring the distinct effect held by rational and emotional frames on highly involved audience; especially in regards to a crisis as severe and nationally salient like MH370.

Full Text:



Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behaviour.

Argenti, P.A. (2009). Corporate Communication. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Choi, Y., & Lin, Y. (2007, May 23). Communicating risk: The effects of message appeal and individual difference on risk message processing. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, San Francisco, CA.

Claeys, A.-S., Cauberghe, V. (2014) What makes crisis response strategies work? The impact of crisis involvement and message framing. Journal of Business Research, vol.: 67, issue: 2, 182-189

Coombs, W. T. (1998). An analytic framework for crisis situations: Better responses from a better understanding of the situation. Journal of Public Relations Research, 10(3), 177-191.

Coombs, W. T. (2007). Protecting organization reputation during a crisis: The development and application of Situational Crisis Communication Theory. Corporate Reputation Review, 10, 163-176.

Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, S. J. (2002). Helping crisis managers protect reputational assets. Management Communication Quarterly, 16, 165-186.

Coombs, W.T. (1999). Information and Compassion in Crisis Responses: A Test of Their Effects. Journal of Public Relations Research, 11 (2), 125-142.

Dayang Aizza Maisha Abang Ahmad, Noratikah Mohamad Ashari, & Mus Chairil Samani (2017). Framing crisis response messages on Facebook: a second level agenda analysis of MH370. In SHS Web of Conferences (Vol. 33). EDP Sciences.

Flora, J. A., & Maibach, E. (1990). Cognitive responses to AIDS information: The effects of issue, involvement and message appeal. Communication Research, 17, 759-774.

Freberg, K. (2012). Intention to comply with crisis messages communicated via social media. Public Relations Review, 38, 416–421.

Griffin, E. (2012). A First Look of Communication Theory. (8th Edition). New York: McGraw Hill and Sons Inc.

Hamisah Hasan, Ezhar Tamam, Jusang Bolong, Mohd Nizal Mohd Nor, Azhani Ali (2016). An Exploratory Study on the Relationship between Involvement and Attitude towards TV Advertisements with Islamic Symbols and Purchase Intent. Jurnal Komunikasi Malaysian Journal of Communication, 32(2).

Han, S., Lerner, J. S., & Keltner, D. (2007). Feelings and consumer decision making: The appraisal-tendency framework. Journal of consumer psychology, 17(3), 158-168.

Jin, Y., Pang, A., & Cameron, G. T. (2007). Integrated crisis mapping: Towards a publics-based, emotion-driven conceptualization in crisis communication. Sphera Publica, 7(7), 81-96.

Ki, E-J. & Nekmat, E. (2014). Situational crisis communication and interactivity: Usage and effectiveness of Facebook for crisis management by Fortune 500 companies. Computers in Human Behaviour, 35, 140-147.

Kim, H. J., & Cameron, G. T. (2011). Emotions matter in crisis: The role of anger and sadness in the publics’ response to crisis news framing and corporate crisis response. Communication Research, 38(6), 826-855.

Lerner, J. S., & Tiedens, L. Z. (2006). Portrait of the angry decision maker: How appraisal tendencies shape anger's influence on cognition. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 19(2), 115-137.

MacInnis, D. J., Rao, A., & Weiss, A. (2002). Assessing when increased media weight of real-world advertisements helps sales. Journal of Marketing Research, 39(4), 391–407.

Maheswaran, D., & Meyers-Levy, J. (1990). The influence of message framing and issue involvement. Journal of Marketing Research, 27(3), 361–367.

Malasig, B. J. C. & Quinto, E. J. M. (2016). Functions of and Communication Behavior on Twitter after the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. Jurnal Komunikasi Malaysian Journal of Communication, 32(1).

McCombs, M. E. (1999). Personal involvement with issues on the public agenda. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 11, 152–168.

Miller, K. (2005). Communication Theories: Perspective, Processes, and Contexts. (2nd Edition). New York: McGraw Hill and Sons Inc.

Mukhtar El-Kasim & Syed Arabi Idid (2017). PR Practitioners’ Use of Social Media: Validation of an Online Relationship Management Model Applying Structural Equation Modeling. Jurnal Komunikasi Malaysian Journal of Communication, 33(1), 212-228.

Noratikah Mohamad Ashari, Dayang Aizza Maisha Abang Ahmad, & Mus Chairil Samani (2017). Crisis Response Strategy and Crisis Types Suitability: A Preliminary Study on MH370. In SHS Web of Conferences (Vol. 33). EDP Sciences

Pan, S. (2011). The Role of TV Commercial Visuals in Forming Memorable and Impressive Destination Images. Journal of Travel Research, Vol.50, Issue 2, pp.171-185.

Pang, A. (2014). Social Media Hype in Times of Crises: Nature, Characteristic and Impacts on Organizations. Asia Pacific Media Educator, 23, 2 (2013): 309–336.

Petty, R. E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Schumann, D. (1983). Central and peripheral routes to advertising effectiveness: The moderating role of involvement. Journal of Consumer Research, 10, 135–146.

Rosselli, F., Skelly, J. J., & Mackie, D. M. (1995). Processing rational and emotional messages: The cognitive and affective mediation of persuasion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 31, 163-190.

Sekaran, U., & Bougie, R. (2009). Research Methods for Business: A Skill-Building Approach 5th Edition. United Kingdom: Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Tiedens, L. Z., & Linton, S. (2001). Judgment under emotional certainty and uncertainty: the effects of specific emotions on information processing. Journal of personality and social psychology, 81(6), 973.

Utz, S., Schultz, F., & Glocka, S. (2013). Crisis communication online: How medium, crisis type and emotions affected public reactions in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Public Relations Review, 39(1), 40-46.

Yoo, C., & MacInnis, D. (2005). The brand attitude formation process of emotional and informational ads. Journal of Business Research, 58(10), 1397–1406.


  • There are currently no refbacks.