Twitter weather warnings: Communicating risk in 140 characters—the impact of imperative and declarative message style on weather risk perception and behavioral intentions


  • Adam M. Rainear, MA
  • Kenneth A. Lachlan, PhD
  • Patric R. Spence, PhD



risk communication, social media, twitter, weather warning, message style


Understanding how individuals utilize risk messages is important for protecting lives and gaining compliance toward safe behaviors. Recent advances in technology afford users with timeliness when needing to acquire information, and research investigating imperative and declarative message styles suggests utilizing both strategies is most effective. Similarly, the element of time can play a role when an individual engages in certain behaviors. This study employed an experimental design to better understand how imperative and declarative tweets, and time can contribute to risk perceptions and behavioral intentions. Results indicate the most negative affect is experienced after receiving an imperative-only tweet in a short-lead time condition, whereas a tweet utilizing both message styles in a long-lead time condition induces the most fear. Future research should investigate stylistic message elements on new media platforms to better understand how messages can be effectively sent and received by the intended audience within character-limited platforms.

Author Biographies

Adam M. Rainear, MA

Graduate Student, Department of Communication, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

Kenneth A. Lachlan, PhD

Professor, Department of Communication, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut

Patric R. Spence, PhD

Associate Professor, Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida


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How to Cite

Rainear, MA, A. M., K. A. Lachlan, PhD, and P. R. Spence, PhD. “Twitter Weather Warnings: Communicating Risk in 140 characters—the Impact of Imperative and Declarative Message Style on Weather Risk Perception and Behavioral Intentions”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 15, no. 5, Sept. 2017, pp. 285-90, doi:10.5055/jem.2017.0337.