The history of tobacco advertising is one of providing information that is misleading and outright deceptive. Research by scientists and decisions by the courts have confirmed these claims. Current advertising about natural, organic tobaccos continues to create incorrect beliefs. As the FDA moves to Modified Risk Tobacco Products (MRTPs), the possibility of engendering a new set of false beliefs is on the horizon. This presentation focuses on the mechanisms of false inference in tobacco advertising past, present and in the future — cutting edge procedures for studying and correcting false beliefs engendered by MRTP advertising.
Recent technology advances, especially in the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning, have dramatically re-defined our everyday experience. These intelligent systems not only provide convenience but also aim to understand human behavior, preference, and even creation in a more profound manner. For example, nowadays we have intelligent systems that can create a music playlist for a specific user with songs that match his or her current mood, and systems that can accompany an original melody while mimicking an artist’s style. This presentation will reveal the secrets behind these intelligent systems through three research projects: automatic music generation, gesture recognition for American Sign Language, and social network analysis. I will describe how we can define such human-centered topics as scientific problems, and give examples of my approach to interdisciplinary research.
From the subtle to the extreme, advocating for the environment pervades popular media and contributes to society’s thinking about environmental issues. In this presentation, Dr. Seelig will highlight relevant research focusing on environmental communication. This includes excerpts from her book, Communicating the Environment Beyond Photography, as well as discusses how depicting the natural world has evolved in film, television, and animated content. Preliminary findings from Dr. Seelig’s current project that breaks down both visual and textual components in websites and product packaging for three popular skin care brands will also be shared.
Harassment of journalists has increased globally in countries formally classified as electoral democracies for at least the last decade. In a first of its kind study, we identify the conditions that change the likelihood a journalist will have received one or more work-related threats in Mexico, a democracy where anti-press harassment is multifaceted and comparatively widespread. This presentation will also present evidence on the consequences of harassment for journalists as human beings and as facilitators of democratic deliberation and accountability.
Designing user interfaces involves intricate and complex decisions. User Experience (UX) practitioners strive to create products that users not only need but want, and to design them in a way that is easy to use. User research provides a structured, methodical approach to understanding users and evaluating the user experience. This presentation provides examples of how evidence-based UX is applied to inform product design.
HIV prevalence data among the indigenous is starkly missing and needed. To address this void, Dr. Orrego utilized a CBPR approach coupled with the Health Belief Model (HBM) framework to uncover barriers and facilitators to HIV testing and condom use in rural Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. The formative work began by forming an advisory board that reflected collaborations across community partners, researchers and the priority population. Given the insular and remote population, we recognized the necessity of utilizing a mixed method design for data collection that would facilitate breadth and depth of understanding as well as demonstrate data corroboration. Dr. Orrego conducted two waves of formative research, resulting in an integration of in-depth interviews, a focus group, and quantitative survey findings documenting multiple standpoints on what is important and valued in our priority population regarding HIV prevention.
This project’s subject is the role Paris played in the astonishingly fertile environment enjoyed by all of the arts in the 1920s. It asks what the role of factual history in a motion picture is. This is an issue that must be answered in the mind of a filmmaker even before one can begin. It is a question that Hollywood has wrestled with since the motion picture was invented. It is a question which provokes heated critical debate because it goes right to the question of the difference and balance between the subjective and the objective, between history and art, between opinion and propaganda. The project is twofold: To produce a film and a book of photographs, both of which will reflect the importance of the physical place that is Paris to the social, cultural and intellectual environment the city was between 1920 and 1929.
Fall 2017 Presentations
Data Visualization to Inspire and Inform
Sept. 28: Alberto Cairo (Knight Chair in Visual Journalism)
In this presentation, Alberto Cairo will present some of his recent collaborations with companies like Google and Microsoft, and his Visual Trumpery lecture tour in the Fall of 2017 and the Spring of 2018, which presents graphicacy (“graphical literacy”) to the public at large. He’ll also explain how all these projects embody the principles of effective data visualization that he teaches in his classes and has written about in his books.
How to Teach Big Data Use to Journalism and Mass Communication Students: A Qualitative Analysis
Oct. 5: Michel Dupagne (Professor, Journalism and Media Management)
Notwithstanding a myriad of challenges that still need to be addressed in the years to come, there is little doubt that big data are poised to influence major sectors of the economy, including health care, transportation, retail, and even the media industries. Big data, also known as data science or mining, are here to stay in one form or another. Some media researchers have begun to evaluate and take advantage of key characteristics of big data, primarily volume, velocity, variety, and value, to generate innovative designs and new insights into phenomena that were not possible a few years ago. But left out of these stimulating developments in our academic discipline is the pedagogical element. Specifically, do college instructors in mass media schools and programs need or have the responsibility to teach the use of big data as an integrated part of existing courses or in new courses to students who may have little knowledge of database management, statistics, and computer programming? If so, what would be the desirable parameters that the instructors should consider to facilitate and maximize the learning experience of this complex subject matter? Based on a series of in-depth interviews with big data course instructors in journalism and mass communications, we will explore emergent themes related to three key areas of interest: (1) relevance of big data for media students; (2) course content that covers big data effectively; and (3) challenges faced by instructors who teach big data in the classroom. The paper will conclude with suggestions for mass media instructors to construct partial and complete big data courses.
Watch for motorcycles! The effects of texting and handheld bans on motorcyclist fatalities
Oct. 12: Michael French (Professor, Sociology)
Objectives: To determine whether state-specific texting and handheld bans have a significant impact on motorcyclist fatalities in the US. Methods: Longitudinal multivariate analysis of state-specific traffic fatality data (2005-2015) from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) merged with state-specific characteristics, texting and handheld device laws, and other traffic policies. Results: States with moderate and strong texting and handheld bans have significantly lower motorcyclist fatality rates even after controlling for numerous other factors and state fixed-effects. Moreover, this result is driven mainly by multiple-vehicle motorcycle crashes as opposed to single-vehicle crashes. Conclusions: Although research is mixed on the effectiveness of texting and handheld device policies for overall traffic fatalities, our research indicates that motorcyclists may be at elevated risk of distracted driving and thus benefit greatly from these policies. Policy Implications: Motorcyclists account for a much higher proportion of total traffic fatalities relative to the share of motorcycles among all vehicles and vehicle miles driven in the US. Our findings suggest state legislatures should consider strengthening texting and handheld bans along with their enforcement to improve safety and save lives, especially among motorcyclists.
Film and Television History: Writing from the Margins
Oct. 19: Christina Lane (Associate Professor, Cinema and Interactive Media)
The past several decades have seen a surge in exciting film research that considers perspectives and practices long excluded from traditional history. For example, the contributions of women, people of color, and gays and lesbians have often been obscured or marginalized in grand “master narratives” of classical Hollywood or big broadcast. As the historical landscape expands to reveal a vast array of contributors and many different forms of cultural participation, a number of methodological and theoretical concerns and questions arise, such as how to locate and make use of sources and evidence that were previously unconsidered or unavailable, or how to theorize the authorial role of someone who does not fit into an ordinary industry category. This presentation will consider these historiographic concerns and questions in light of several of my recent projects, all of which strive to write a revisionist history of women’s involvement in film and television “from the margins.”
Persuasive Play, Social Impact and Games as Engagement Strategy
Oct. 26: Lindsay Grace (Visiting Knight Chair)
In a world that is constantly vying for our attention, games offer an opportunity to not only entertain, but engage. Providing an overview of his work in the last four years, Professor Grace shares recent projects that aim to change people’s interests, activities and opinions. These include individual games, game exhibits, playful interactions and game based assessments. Learn about successful projects he and his team completed for the World Bank, Education Testing Services (ETS), the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Polygon/Vox Storytelling Studio, WAMU, and others. He will share some lessons learned in the design of playful engagements, how change is supported through game design, and what the future holds for the use of games in non-game contexts.
An Alternative to Existing Health Intervention Tools? Design and Evaluation of a Serious Digital Health Game to Discourage Indoor Tanning Among Young Adults
Nov. 2: Soyoon Kim (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies)
Research concerning the distribution of health information—whether persuasive intervention messages or factual health knowledge—has become an important branch of communication research, largely because of the wealth of communication channels currently available. This environment poses important questions, such as whether the rise of new communication platforms (e.g., interactive digital media), which ostensibly allow more user control and entertaining experiences, amplify health communication effects. One important alternative approach to existing health-intervention tools is the use of serious digital games, designed to promote psychological, behavioral, and clinical health by integrating educational goals with the entertaining nature of gameplay. In this presentation, Dr. Kim will report some important findings from her project with other SoC faculty members, which was developed to examine the feasibility of implementing a serious digital health game (Dreamy) to intervene in indoor tanning use among young adults.
Hollywood’s Dirtiest Secret: the Environmental Costs of Our Screen Culture
Nov. 16: Hunter Vaughan (Associate Professor, Cinema Studies, Oakland University)
In this talk, Dr. Vaughan will present an overview of his upcoming book, Hollywood’s Dirtiest Secret (Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2018), an alternative, environmental history of popular American film culture. Using case studies from classical Hollywood to contemporary digital media, Dr. Vaughan addresses the increasingly crucial intersection between screen culture and the environment. At a time of increased social anxiety regarding climate change and other natural crises, this talk will explore how we collectively and individually use screens to mediate our experience of the natural world, from the messaging power of environmental representation to the material environmental impact of 21st-century smart technologies.
Risky Business: How Alternative Perceptions of Risk Form in Opposition to Scientific Certainty
February 16th: Nick Carcioppolo (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies)
Scientific investigation has thoroughly and unilaterally explicated the relationship between unnecessary UV exposure and melanoma incidence. Problematically, indoor tanning is more popular today than it has ever been in history. The present talk will highlight the differences between objective facts and public perceptions of risk related to UV exposure, describe attitudes and beliefs that can be targeted to yield more accurate perceptions of risk, and suggest strategies for future intervention in this area.
The Self-Expressive Customization of a Product: Can Improve Your Performance
February 23rd: Chris Janiszewski (Professor, Marketing)
This research demonstrates that the self-expressive customization of a product can improve performance on tasks performed using the customized product. Five studies show that the effect is robust across different types of tasks (e.g., persistence tasks, concentration tasks, agility tasks). The evidence further shows that the effect is not due to changes in product efficacy beliefs, feelings of competence, feelings of accomplishment, mood, task desirability, goal activation, or goal attainability. Instead, the self-expressive customization of a product extends an identity (e.g., personal identity, group identity) into the product. When the product is subsequently used to pursue a goal whose desired outcome can affirm the extended identity, performance improves.
The Role of Social Comparison in Exposure and Emotional Responses to Reality and Scripted Television Programs
March 2nd: Nicky Lewis (Assistant Professor, Journalism & Media Management)
In recent years, conceptualizations of media enjoyment have expanded beyond traditional experiences of fun and entertainment to include experiences of appreciation, meaningfulness, and need satisfaction as possible avenues to enjoyment. In this vein, certain social psychological processes can affect our media choices and in turn, influence emotional and enjoyment responses to the chosen content. This presentation will discuss the need for social comparison as a driver of some media choice behavior, including the role that individual differences and content factors can have on social comparison processes.
Transformational and Human Centered Design: Designing for Social Impact
March 9th: Lien Tran (Assistant Professor, Cinema & Interactive Media)
As the field of social impact design evolves, so too does the way in which we define and solve problems. In this talk, Lien Tran will share a survey of her creative work, collaborations, and teaching and highlight how ‘tandem transformational design’ and ‘human centered design’ can be applied for social impact as well as innovation.
Communication, A Post-Discipline
March 23rd: Silvio Waisbord (Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University)
Long-standing hopes for communication to become a cohesive field of knowledge are yet to be met. A combination of factors drive intellectual balkanization, namely, ontological and disciplinary traditions, the constant drive to thematic hyper-specialization, and academic dispersion. Additionally, the “communication of everything,” intensified by the encroachment of digital technologies in every corner of social life, exacerbates the lack of intellectual cohesion. Also, questions about communication issues clearly overflow the conventional boundaries and the analytical corpus of communication studies as they are found across the social sciences and the humanities. These forces have turned communication into a post-discipline that is not bounded by shared commitment to a common subject of study, body of knowledge, theoretical questions, and debates that characterize disciplines and fields. What essentially brings communication studies together is an institutional architecture of academic units, professional associations, and journals. In light of this situation, I argue, communication studies needs to embrace its post-disciplinary status and draw various threads of research around the study of specific social problems. Resolving multiple divides through theoretical or methodological synthesis is unlikely to deliver wide-ranging results. It would not counter strong tendencies to hyper-specialization. Theoretical, epistemological and ontological ecumenism is unlikely. A more productive path is to recognize pluralism and dispersion, and engage with real-world problems that need to be approached by integrating multiple communication perspectives.
Granting Legal Standing to Proxy Communicators to Facilitate Post-Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation: How Many People Don’t and Why Not?
March 30th: Michael Beatty (Professor, Communication Studies)
In general, patient consent is required to initiate medical procedures beyond rudimentary emergency life-saving protocols. Patients cannot provide explicit consent, however, when they are unable to communicate due to catastrophic strokes. Under such conditions when the patient is an unmarried adult, only another adult granted power of attorney may serve as the patient’s proxy communicator. In this research, two studies, one based on 299 unmarried adult 65 years of age or older, and another involving 311 unmarried adults 40 to 64 years of age. Results indicate that (1) the majority of participants in both groups have not designated a proxy communicator in the event of a stroke, (2) the overwhelming number of those surveyed are profoundly misinformed about the importance of proxy communicators with legal standing to make important post-emergency treatment decisions, and (3) the reasons given for not having designated a proxy communicator include procrastination, misinformation, not knowing who to appoint, and simply never having thought about it. Implications of the findings and suggestions for interventions are discussed.
Corporate Public Relations: Focusing on Crisis Communication and Social Responsibility
April 6th: Weiting Tao (Assistant Professor, Strategic Communication)
Research topics in the area of corporate public relations will be introduced, with a focus on corporate crisis communication/management and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Two specific research projects will be discussed briefly: “Consumer Reaction to Association-Based Crisis Response Strategies” (crisis communication and management) and “Employee Prosocial Engagement in CSR through Empowerment in Decision-Making” (corporate social responsibility).
Trying to Understand the Role of Technology in Journalism
September 15th: Bruce Garrison (Professor, Journalism & Media Management)
Professor Garrison discussed his research that focuses on new technologies and their roles in information gathering in journalism. He also discussed some of his other recent research projects.
Games on the Edge: More Than Fun, Still Fun
September 22nd: Clay Ewing (Assistant Professor, Cinema and Interactive Media)
More than 150 million Americans play video games. As the field matures, game designers are pushing the boundaries of what the medium is capable of. Professor Ewing will talk about his work on games for social impact, advocacy, and public health.
Clean Gear as the New Badge of Honor: Building a Culture of Risk Reduction in South Florida Firefighters
September 29th: Tyler Harrison (Professor, Communication Studies)
Firefighters face increased cancer risks compared to the general population. Firefighter organizational culture may contribute to that increased risk through valuing cultural artifacts such as dirty gear, which helps establish expertise and reliability, but which also increases exposure to carcinogens. Our research employed ethnographic and focus group methods to explore the current culture and process of culture change among firefighters in Beach Side Fire Rescue. High profile cancer deaths led to an internal team working to promote culture change to reduce cancer risk. Firefighters reported high concern with cancer risk to the point of fatalism. Firefighters acknowledged the historic meaning of dirty gear, but report cultural change is occurring. However, occupational practices and the need for immediate safety collide with new practices designed to reduce long-term cancer risk. Based on these findings we designed, implemented, and evaluated a health intervention based on behavior change models (EPPM, TRA, HBM) designed to change knowledge, attitudes, and intentions toward cancer risk reduction.
Using Theory to Drive Intervention Design and Development: The Mighty Girls Story
October 13th: Anne Norris (Professor, Nursing)
The Mighty Girls intervention combines classroom sessions with a highly interactive virtual reality game that uses digital puppetry. The theoretical framework driving intervention design is a combination of the communication competence model (CCM), social cognitive theory (SCT), Narrative Engagement Theory, the Theory of Fun, and knowledge of cognitive development and Hispanic cultural values. This presentation will discuss the use of focus groups and interviews, prototype testing, a feasibility trial, and a study of game play under free choice conditions to develop and refine the intervention. The interweaving of cultural grounding throughout this process to ensure that the resulting intervention was culturally as well as developmentally tailored will also be discussed.
What Is the Value of a Memory? Nostalgia, Advertising, and the Irrational Value We Place on Our Memories
October 27th: Patrick Vargas (Professor, Advertising, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)
Prof. Vargas will present some preliminary research on the extent to which we value our memories, and speculate on why our memories are so important to us. He will discuss why our memory valuations are irrational, and propose research to test whether we can take a rational position on our own memories. He will review research on nostalgia from psychology and advertising, and speculate about a plan of research involving programmatic, nostalgia-based advertising.
The Sociopolitical Aspects of Advertising & Consumption
November 3rd: Sunny Tsai (Associate Professor, Strategic Communication)
Various research projects addressing the sociopolitical aspects of advertising in relation to consumer identity and culture will be presented. Topics include female consumers’ relationship with beauty ideals in advertising, the politicized gay consumer culture, multicultural advertising, and consumer ethnocentrism and nationalism in today’s globalized market.
Beauty and Negativity at the Ballot Box: Effects of Negative Political Advertising and Attractiveness on Candidate Evaluation
November 17th: Juliana Fernandes (Assistant Professor, Strategic Communication)
Research on the attractiveness stereotype has found that people who are considered attractive receive higher evaluations on several trait dimensions as compared to unattractive people. This finding was shown on several social contexts, such as politics, donations, and imprisonment sentences. In this talk, Professor Fernandes will discuss the conditions under which negative political advertising and physical attractiveness might be beneficial or detrimental to political candidates and the image they portray to voters.