Toyota’s crisis communications and public emotions: implications for trust repair

Çelik, Hazal
This study aims to combine the trust repair and crisis communications literatures to analyze Toyota’s responses when faced with the problem of unintended acceleration in its vehicles and the effects of these responses on public emotions. Data on public sentiment was collected via a computer-aided content analysis of blog comments of Autoblog and Jalopnik readers using Diction, LIWC, and CATScanner software packages. The results of the multiple regressions investigating the effects of Toyota’s crisis communication tactics on public emotions are discussed in light of extant empirical studies on Image Restoration Theory (IRT) and the Situational Crisis Communications Theory (SCCT). One of the main findings of this thesis is that the negative emotions of the Autoblog readers are increased by denying the occurrence of the wrongful act and providing unclear explanations. Another finding is that claiming that another party is responsible for the crisis decreased both the negative and the positive emotions in the Autoblog reader comments. Additionally, it is found that expressing sympathy resulted in decreased positive emotions among the Jalopnik readers. This thesis contributes to the literature by the usage of the real case study and the real emotional data as public.


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Citation Formats
H. Çelik, “Toyota’s crisis communications and public emotions: implications for trust repair,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2018.