Is “fracking” a new dirty word? The influence of word choice on public views toward natural gas attitudes Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd. The increased public attention to hydraulic fracturing as a technique for extracting natural gas has raised the stakes of the political and regulatory struggle that surround it. This increased attention has also raised questions about the levels of popular support or opposition to the technique. Before we can assess this support or opposition, we must have a firm understanding of the language and framing of language of these extractive technologies. This paper uses a survey experiment to compare two popular framing languages for hydraulic fracturing, with half of the respondents receiving questions that refer to the technique as "hydraulic fracturing" and the other half, as "fracking". We analyzed the effects of framing for the two treatments by conducting t-tests to compare responses to questions concerning opinions and attitudes about the extraction technique. The results illustrate that the concerns that the term "fracking" is politicized and pejorative are overstated. The survey reveals that familiarity with the technique influences levels of support and reactions to specific wording, but there is no general framing effect for the use of one wording over the other.

author list (cited authors)

  • Stoutenborough, J. W., Robinson, S. E., & Vedlitz, A.

citation count

  • 28

publication date

  • July 2016