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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:  25 Opinion leaders can be an indispensable resource for raising awareness of the various risk dimensions of natural gas drilling; facilitating knowledge acquisition, interpersonal discussion, and respect for (if not understanding of) these perspectives; and encouraging others to seek information and become more informed (Besley & Baxter-Clemmons, 2010). Appealing to opinion leaders to themselves remain informed is important; however, there are challenges, including how, how often, and where to train these individuals (Nisbet and Kotchner (2009). This study, however, adds a layer of complexity in terms of how leaders are identified, given the argument that opinion leadership is an identity that can emerge in role, group, and person-based contexts and that can proscribe different meanings and motivations for communication behavior. Moreover, appeals used to encourage leaders to become informed, seek information, and communicate with others would need to be tailored to these contexts (for example, elected officials feeling a need to be informed about all the various drilling-related impacts for the sake of their constituents versus landowner coalition members perceived a need to be informed about certain aspects in response to the needs and expectations of their members). References Afifi, W.A., & Weiner, J.L. (2004). Toward a theory of motivated information management. Communication Theory, 14, 167-190. Anderson, B.J., & Theodori, G.L. (2009). Local leaders’ perceptions of energy development in the Barnett Shale. Southern Rural Sociology, 24, 113-129. Atkin, C.K. (1972). Anticipated communication and mass media information seeking. Public Opinion Quarterly, 36, 188-199.

Authors: Clarke, Chris.
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25
Opinion leaders can be an indispensable resource for raising awareness of the various risk 
dimensions of natural gas drilling; facilitating knowledge acquisition, interpersonal discussion, 
and respect for (if not understanding of) these perspectives; and encouraging others to seek 
information and become more informed (Besley & Baxter-Clemmons, 2010). Appealing to 
opinion leaders to themselves remain informed is important; however, there are challenges, 
including how, how often, and where to train these individuals (Nisbet and Kotchner (2009). This 
study, however, adds a layer of complexity in terms of how leaders are identified, given the 
argument that opinion leadership is an identity that can emerge in role, group, and person-based 
contexts and that can proscribe different meanings and motivations for communication behavior. 
Moreover, appeals used to encourage leaders to become informed, seek information, and 
communicate with others would need to be tailored to these contexts (for example, elected 
officials feeling a need to be informed about all the various drilling-related impacts for the sake 
of their constituents versus landowner coalition members perceived a need to be informed about 
certain aspects in response to the needs and expectations of their members).
References
Afifi, W.A., & Weiner, J.L. (2004). Toward a theory of motivated information management. 
Communication Theory, 14, 167-190.
Anderson, B.J., & Theodori, G.L. (2009). Local leaders’ perceptions of energy development in 
the Barnett Shale. Southern Rural Sociology, 24, 113-129.
Atkin, C.K. (1972). Anticipated communication and mass media information seeking. Public 
Opinion Quarterly, 36, 188-199.


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