Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Communication and Information



First Advisor

Dr. Patric Spence

Second Advisor

Dr. Brandi Frisby


Two studies were performed to research potential exemplification effects throughout various stages of natural disasters. Exemplification theory (Zillmann, 1999, 2002) promotes the use of exemplars, media examples, because of their potential ability to motivate risk related information seeking and their possible influence in optimizing protective action (Zillmann, 2006). Study one examined potential exemplification effect differences between various stages of natural disasters. Study two was designed to test for differences in trust, perceptions of severity, and intentions to volunteer depending on the organization type supplying related exemplars in social media. Results indicate that exemplification effects do not differ depending on disaster stage. However, exemplification effects do depend on the source of the exemplars. Furthermore, differences in perceptions of trust were detected between the two organizations providing the exemplars. And, intentions to volunteer vary depending on the current disaster stage. Specific findings, related theoretical implications, and practical suggestions are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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