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Investigating the Role of Identities and Opinion Leadership on Risk Information Seeking and Sharing about Proposed Natural Gas Drilling in New York’s Marcellus Shale
Unformatted Document Text:  13 The interview questions focused on identity-related aspects of opinion leadership as it relates to communication behavior about potential impacts of Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. This approach was somewhat difficult given the need to adapt concepts that have primarily been measured in surveys for use in interviews (Burke & Stets, 2009). The first set of questions were background, including why the interviewee cared about it as much as s/he does (i.e., perceived impacts of drilling). The next set of questions touched on the identity-relevant dimensions of opinion leadership (specifically, being seen by others – and oneself - as a source of information, advice, and/or expertise on Marcellus Shale and about what issue[s]). The next set focused on the meanings and contexts associated with this identity. Drawing on identity theory and opinion leadership, participants were asked why people came (or did not) come to them for information as well as why they considered themselves resources in this regard (or not). Probes explored the extent to which this identity was tied to being part of a particular organization, a personal characteristic, and/or a social role (i.e., such as ‘advocate’ or ‘elected official’). Participants were then asked the extent to which being seen by (seeing oneself) as a source of information was important to them and what it meant to be seen (and to see themselves) in that light. Probes touched on perceived personal and social pressure to remain informed about Marcellus Shale in general and about particular impacts; particular groups/individuals whom the participant felt expected him/her to be informed; reasons why participants felt this pressure (tying back into aforementioned identity contexts); and whether this pressure differed depending on these contexts. The next set of questions focused on the extent they looked for information about Marcellus Shale; what they searched for; reasons for doing so (tying back into the aforementioned identity contexts); and whether information needs differed depending on these contexts. Questions on information sharing centered on how participants responded to the

Authors: Clarke, Chris.
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background image
The interview questions focused on identity-related aspects of opinion leadership as it relates 
to communication behavior about potential impacts of Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. This 
approach was somewhat difficult given the need to adapt concepts that have primarily been 
measured in surveys for use in interviews (Burke & Stets, 2009). The first set of questions were 
background, including why the interviewee cared about it as much as s/he does (i.e., perceived 
impacts of drilling). The next set of questions touched on the identity-relevant dimensions of 
opinion leadership (specifically, being seen by others – and oneself - as a source of information, 
advice, and/or expertise on Marcellus Shale and about what issue[s]). The next set focused on the 
meanings and contexts associated with this identity. Drawing on identity theory and opinion 
leadership, participants were asked why people came (or did not) come to them for information as 
well as why they considered themselves resources in this regard (or not). Probes explored the 
extent to which this identity was tied to being part of a particular organization, a personal 
characteristic, and/or a social role (i.e., such as ‘advocate’ or ‘elected official’). 
Participants were then asked the extent to which being seen by (seeing oneself) as a source of 
information was important to them and what it meant to be seen (and to see themselves) in that 
light. Probes touched on perceived personal and social pressure to remain informed about 
Marcellus Shale in general and about particular impacts; particular groups/individuals whom the 
participant felt expected him/her to be informed; reasons why participants felt this pressure (tying 
back into aforementioned identity contexts); and whether this pressure differed depending on 
these contexts. The next set of questions focused on the extent they looked for information about 
Marcellus Shale; what they searched for; reasons for doing so (tying back into the 
aforementioned identity contexts); and whether information needs differed depending on these 
contexts. Questions on information sharing centered on how participants responded to the 

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