Research Brown Bag Series

Fall 2017


  • Sept. 28: Alberto Cairo (Knight Chair in Visual Journalism)
  • Oct. 5: Michel Dupagne (Professor, Journalism and Media Management)
  • Oct. 12: Michael French (Professor, Sociology)
  • Oct. 19: Christina Lane (Associate Professor, Cinema and Interactive Media)
  • Oct. 26: Lindsay Grace (Visiting Knight Chair)
  • Nov. 2: Soyoon Kim (Assistant Professor, Communication Studies)
  • Nov. 9: Barbara Millet (Research Assistant Professor, Cinema and Interactive Media)
  • Nov. 16: Hunter Vaughan (Associate Professor, Cinema Studies, Oakland University)

  • 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).

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  • 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.

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