Emotions in Crisis Communication

Phd cover Yi

Researcher(s): Yi Xiao

Promotors: Veroline Cauberghe, Liselot Hudders and An-Sofie Claeys
Duration: October 2015 to October 2018


Social media provide a more natural context to communicate organizational emotions, as expressing emotions can increase the perception that the organization speaks with a conversational human voice, leading to more acceptance of the message. However, limited research has been conducted to test how emotional framing can be used in a social mediated channel. In three empirical chapters, the dissertation has been conducted to deepen and expand insights on how positive emotions (e.g., humor, hope) and mixed valence emotions (expressing both positive and negative emotions) can be used in a social mediated context. This dissertation shows that organizations should not only focus on the crisis response strategy, but should highlight the importance of emotional framing in communicating the crisis. A crisis should not only be perceived as a negative event but can also be an opportunity for the organization to learn from the crisis and grow. Organizations should also notice the negative and positive aspects of a crisis and select appropriate emotions (positive/negative/mixed) to communicate the crisis, therefore, maximizing the effectiveness of an organizational response in reputational repair.