Who can save the firefighters? Influence of news stories on issue attitudes
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Guided by the narrative transportation theory, this study examines the impact of news story on issue attitudes. In an experiment, we asked participants to read a piece of news regarding the Tianjin port explosion presented either in the narrative condition or in the informational condition. The study found that participants in the narrative condition showed higher degrees of transportation, identification, empathy emotions, and stronger tendency to donate than participants in the informational condition. The study also found that participants in the narrative condition attributed less individualistic responsibility regarding the deaths and injuries in the explosion because of their positive evaluations toward the firemen. Additionally, mediation analyses found that reading conditions exerted indirect effect on some specific issue attitudes through two factors: identification and empathy emotions. News with story structure in the current study allowed participants to identify with the protagonist: a fireman named “the Soldier”, which then made them show supportive attitudes towards either modifying the current Chinese firefighting system or offering Chinese firemen more professional training.