Finding the Teachable Moment: An Analysis of Information-Seeking Behavior on Global Warming Related Websites During the Release of The Day After Tomorrow

This paper investigates how the mass media may influence information-seeking behavior through an analysis of how the release of the movie The Day After Tomorrow, a fictional depiction of global warming causing catastrophic natural disasters, changed the information-seeking behavior of the public on global warming related websites. A “teachable moment” of elevated information-seeking activity was found to extend from 10 days before the release date of The Day After Tomorrow to 19 days after the movie release date.

Using Auto Regressive Integrated Moving Average modeling, a significant positive correlation was found between changes in media coverage of The Day After Tomorrow and changes in information-seeking activity, although the correlation did not support hypothesized time lags. These results are discussed in terms of information-seeking models, and new research directions are proposed to link agenda-setting research with the information-seeking literature.

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