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Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy

The Bush School of Government and Public Service

Texas A&M University
1112 Allen Building
4350 TAMU College Station, Texas 77843-4350

Dr. Arnold Vedlitz and ISTPP Research Fellows Examine the Framing Effects of “Fracking”

In this study, Dr. Vedlitz and his co-authors, Dr. Stoutenborough and Dr. Robinson, use data from ISTPP’s 2012 National Energy Policy Survey to ascertain whether the words used to name a process used to extract natural gas from underground rock formations influences a person’s attitudes and policy preferences toward this particular technique. The researchers use a survey experiment to compare two popular framing languages for this extraction process, with half of the respondents receiving questions that refer to the technique as “hydraulic fracturing” and the other half, as “fracking.” They analyzed the effects of framing for the two treatments to compare responses to questions concerning opinions and attitudes about the extraction technique. Their results illustrate that concerns that the term “fracking” is politicized and pejorative are overstated. While familiarity with the technique influences levels of support and reactions to specific wording, there is no general framing effect for the use of one wording over the other.

James W. Stoutenborough, Scott E. Robinson, and Arnold Vedlitz. 2016. “Is ‘Fracking’ a New Dirty Word? The Influence of Word Choices on Public Views toward Natural Gas Attitudes.” Energy Research & Social Science 17: 52–58. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2016.04.005.

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