Scholarly Works, School of Communication

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  • Making Writing Meaningful by Making Meaningful Writing
    Jenkins, Dale M.; Purcell, Laura; Boor, Claire; Sowder, Z.; McAllister, Kacy; Connor, Dorothy; Quesenberry, Brandi (2023-02-17)
    A poster on John Warner's book "Why They Can't Write" which got accepted in December 2022 for the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy.
  • US Adults' Perceptions, Beliefs, and Behaviors towards Plant-Rich Dietary Patterns and Practices: International Food Information Council Food and Health Survey Insights, 2012-2022
    Consavage Stanley, Katherine; Hedrick, Valisa E.; Serrano, Elena L.; Holz, Adrienne; Kraak, Vivica (MDPI, 2023-12-01)
    Expert groups recommend that populations adopt dietary patterns higher in whole, plant-based foods and lower in red and processed meat as a high-impact climate action. Yet, there is limited understanding of populations' willingness to adopt plant-rich dietary patterns. This study examined United States (US) adults' perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors towards plant-rich dietary patterns and practices over a decade. Fifteen questions from the International Food Information Council's Food and Health Surveys (2012-2022) were analyzed across four sustainability domains (i.e., human health, environmental, social, and economic domains). Most respondents had favorable perceptions of environmentally sustainable food and beverages, but sustainability influenced less than half of consumers' purchase decisions. Plant-rich dietary pattern adherence increased across survey years (12.1% [2019] to 25.8% [2022], p < 0.001). One-quarter (28.1%) of Americans reported reducing their red meat intake over 12 months (2020-2022). Yet, another 15.5% reported greater red meat intake, and 18.8% reported greater plant-based meat alternative (PBMA) intake over 12 months. The percentage of respondents who reported greater red meat and PBMA consumption in the previous 12 months significantly increased across the years surveyed (2020-2022, p < 0.05). IFIC Survey findings highlight growing US consumer awareness of health, environmental, and social sustainability but low adoption of plant-rich dietary patterns and practices. Government leadership and coordinated actions by health professionals, civil society, and businesses are needed to educate and incentivize Americans to adopt plant-rich dietary behaviors, and greater industry transparency is needed to show how food and beverage products support human and planetary health.
  • Watching the Watchdogs: Using Transparency Cues to Help News Audiences Assess Information Quality
    Norambuena, Brian Keith; Farina, Katharina Reis; Horning, Michael A.; Mitra, Tanu (Cogitatio Press, 2023-12-07)
    The myriad of information sources available online can make it hard for the average reader to know whether a piece of content is credible or not. This research aims to understand if the public’s assessment of the credibility of information could be more accurate with the help of transparency features that act as heuristic cues under the elaboration likelihood model and the heuristic-systematic model, and if the cues increase cognitive absorption. Two between-subjects studies were performed, one with a young demographic (N = 68) and another with a representative sample of the adult population (N = 325). The stimuli contained information boxes designed to indicate that the story was not written in a traditional journalistic style (message cues) and missing background information on the author (source cues). Results show significant effects of the cues on credibility assessment and cognitive absorption.
  • A Content Analysis of Persuasive Appeals Used in Media Campaigns to Encourage and Discourage Sugary Beverages and Water in the United States
    Kraak, Vivica; Holz, Adrienne; Woods, Chelsea Lane; Whitlow, Ann R.; Leary, Nicole (MDPI, 2023-07-13)
    The frequent consumption of sugary beverages is associated with many health risks. This study examined how persuasive appeals and graphics were used in different media campaigns to encourage and discourage sugary beverages and water in the United States (U.S.) The investigators developed a codebook, protocol and systematic process to conduct a qualitative content analysis for 280 media campaigns organized into a typology with six categories. SPSS version 28.0 was used to analyze rational and emotional appeals (i.e., positive, negative, coactive) for campaign slogans, taglines and graphic images (i.e., symbols, colors, audiences) for 60 unique campaigns across the typology. Results showed that positive emotional appeals were used more to promote sugary beverages in corporate advertising and marketing (64.7%) and social responsibility campaigns (68.8%), and less to encourage water in social marketing campaigns (30%). In contrast, public awareness campaigns used negative emotional appeals (48.1%), and advocacy campaigns combined rational (30%) and emotional positive (50%) and negative appeals (30%). Public policy campaigns used rational (82.6%) and positive emotional appeals (73.9%) to motivate support or opposition for sugary beverage tax legislation. Chi-square analyses assessed the relationships between the U.S. media campaign typology categories and graphic elements that revealed three variables with significant associations between the campaign typology and race/ethnicity (χ2(103) = 32.445, p = 0.039), content (χ2(103) = 70.760, p < 0.001) and product image (χ2(103) = 11.930, p = 0.036). Future research should examine how positive persuasive appeals in text and graphics can promote water to reduce sugary beverage health risks.
  • The Long Way Home: News Values in Stories Told by Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers on Social Media
    Kotut, Lindah; Horning, Michael A.; McCrickard, D. Scott (ACM, 2022-11-11)
    Technology use by long-distance hikers provide a fascinating glimpse of the future of HCI research, as it intersects with technology isolation and (non)use. We can understand the use of technology, explore opportunities for rural and outdoor computing, and work with underrepresented communities in these spaces to amplify their stories. In this paper, we focus on the thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail and the stories they share on Instagram. We apply narrative analysis to understand the story content, and also leverage a News Value framework to describe how they craft their stories. The findings highlight opportunities to understand the different storytelling categories that thru-hikers employ, and the platforms they choose for the telling. We discuss the usefulness of understanding technology and storytelling needs for each type of storyteller, and explore the implications for designing technology and tools to amplify stories from underserved users and to support the telling of compelling stories.
  • Staying silent and speaking out in online comment sections: The influence of spiral of silence and corrective action in reaction to news
    Duncan, Megan A.; Pelled, Ayellet; Wise, David; Ghosh, Shreenita; Shan, Yuanliang; Zheng, Mengdian; McLeod, Doug (Pergamon-Elsevier, 2020-01-01)
    Through the lenses of Spiral of Silence Theory, the Corrective Action Hypothesis, and peer influence research, we conducted an online experiment to identify the influence of varying opinion climates on opinion expression about a news controversy. This study expands the corrective action literature by manipulating the perceived opinion climate and measuring opinion change and subsequent expression. After all participants (N = 415) read the same news story, they were randomly assigned to one of five opinion climate conditions (supportive, oppositional, mixed, uncertain or polarized) operationalized through user comments following the story. The experiment allowed participants to reply, comment, do both, or not further engage in an attempt to mirror real-world expression behavior. The results suggest that the opinion climate formed by news comments influenced the opinions and comments of participants, providing evidence that those who hold strong opinions are more likely to comment when they perceive the opinion climate to be oppositional rather than supportive to their worldview.
  • Same Scandal, Different Standards: The Effect of Partisanship on Expectations of News Reports about Whistleblowers
    Duncan, Megan A.; Perryman, Mallory; Shaughnessy, Brittany (Taylor & Francis, 2021-06-19)
    This experiment (N = 591) tests whether audiences adjust their standards for what qualifies as fair journalism based the transparency of news editors, the source of the news, and the target of an accusation. In the context of a whistleblower scandal, the results suggest the relationship between the audience member’s ideology and the news story publisher and target influence what details the audience thinks journalists should reveal. Additionally, we find transparency from editors can alter those perceptions.
  • Trust in Healthcare and Trust in Science Predict Readiness to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine in Appalachia
    Rockwell, Michelle S.; Stein, Jeffrey S.; Gerdes, Julie; Brown, Jeremiah; Ivory, Adrienne Holz; Epling, John W. (2021-04-06)
    BACKGROUND: The Appalachian Region faces multiple barriers to widespread COVID-19 vaccination. The purpose of this research study was to explore the role of trust in healthcare and trust in science on Appalachian residents’ readiness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Trust in health influencers and health information sources were also explored. METHODS: A cross sectional survey study of Appalachian Region residents (n=1048) was completed between February 25 and March 6, 2021, with equivalent rural and non-rural sampling methods employed. Participants were >35 years of age and had not received the COVID-19 vaccine at the time of survey administration. RESULTS: Overall, 31% of participants were extremely likely to receive the vaccine, while 42% were somewhat likely/neither unlikely or likely/somewhat unlikely, and 27% were extremely unlikely. Based on multiple linear regression analysis with backwards selection, trust in healthcare, trust in science, residence (rural vs. non-rural) and age were positive predictors of readiness to receive the vaccine (F(5, 1042)= 38.9, R2= 0.157, p< 0.01). Gender, education, household income, and political affiliation did not predict vaccine readiness. Trust in media for health information was modest, with ratings of none or not much for social media (64%), podcasts (61%), magazines (46%), radio (37%), newspapers (36%), and television (35%). Primary care providers emerged as the highest trusted health influencer of 15 options and a primary care provider’s office was the most common preference for location for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly in participants who rated themselves as extremely unlikely to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that trust in healthcare and science are prospective foci for initiatives aimed at improving vaccine acceptance in Appalachia, particularly in younger residents of rural areas. As highly trusted health influencers, primary care providers should be leveraged and supported in COVID-19 vaccine education and distribution.
  • Selective rating: Partisan bias in crowdsourced news rating systems
    Duncan, Megan A. (Taylor & Francis, 2021-12-27)
    Crowdsourced news rating systems have been suggested as a solution to reducing the amount of misinformation online audiences see. This study expands previous research crowdsourcing by looking at how characteristics of the rating system affect user behavior. In an experiment (N=1,021), two parameters of the rating system were manipulated. First, users were shown different varieties of news brands on the “menu” they were asked to rate. Second, participation was mandatory for half and voluntary for others. Results indicate partisans rated more news brands when they saw an ideologically dissimilar news menu than one that matched their ideology. Further, the trustworthiness rating of the mainstream news menu decreased when participants had a choice to participate rather than were forced. These results have important implications for understanding how users participate in crowdsourcing news credibility.
  • Reluctant to Share: How Third Person Perceptions of Fake News Discourage News Readers From Sharing “Real News” on Social Media
    Yang, Fan; Horning, Michael A. (Sage, 2020)
    Rampant fake news on social media has drawn significant attention. Yet, much remains unknown as to how such imbalanced evaluations of self versus others could shape social media users’ perceptions and their subsequent attitudes and behavioral intentions regarding social media news. An online survey (N = 335) was conducted to examine the third person effect (TPE) in fake news on social media and suggested that users perceived a greater influence of fake news on others than on themselves. However, although users evaluated fake news as socially undesirable, they were still unsupportive of government censorship as a remedy. In addition, the perceived prevalence of fake news leads audiences to reported significantly less willingness to share all news on social media either online or offline.
  • Faculty Perceptions of Research Assessment at Virginia Tech
    Miles, Rachel A.; Pannabecker, Virginia; Kuypers, Jim A. (Levy Library Press, 2020-07-07)
    In the spring of 2019, survey research was conducted at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), a large, public, Carnegie-classified R1 institution in southwest Virginia, to determine faculty perceptions of research assessment as well as how and why they use researcher profiles and research impact indicators. The Faculty Senate Research Assessment Committee (FSRAC) reported the quantitative and qualitative results to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors to demonstrate the need for systemic, political, and cultural change regarding how faculty are evaluated and rewarded at the university for their research and creative projects. The survey research and subsequent report started a gradual process to move the university to a more responsible, holistic, and inclusive research assessment environment. Key results from the survey, completed by close to 500 faculty from across the university, include: a.) the most frequently used researcher profile systems and the primary ways they are used (e.g., profiles are used most frequently for showcasing work, with results indicating that faculty prefer to use a combination of systems for this purpose); b.) the primary reasons faculty use certain research impact indicators (e.g., number of publications is frequently used but much more likely to be used for institutional reasons than personal or professional reasons); c.) faculty feel that research assessment is most fair at the department level and least fair at the university level; and d.) faculty do not feel positively towards their research being assessed for the allocation of university funding.
  • An Agenda for Open Science in Communication
    Dienlin, Tobias; Johannes, Niklas; Bowman, Nicholas David; Masur, Philipp K.; Engesser, Sven; Kümpel, Anna Sophie; Lukito, Josephine; Bier, Lindsey M.; Zhang, Renwen; Johnson, Benjamin K.; Huskey, Richard; Schneider, Frank M.; Breuer, Johannes; Parry, Douglas A.; Vermeulen, Ivar; Fisher, Jacob T.; Banks, Jaime; Weber, René; Ellis, David A.; Smits, Tim; Ivory, James Dee; Trepte, Sabine; McEwan, Bree; Rinke, Eike Mark; Neubaum, German; Winter, Stephan; Carpenter, Christopher J.; Krämer, Nicole; Utz, Sonja; Unkel, Julian; Wang, Xiaohui; Davidson, Brittany I.; Kim, Nuri; Won, Andrea Stevenson; Domahidi, Emese; Lewis, Neil A.; de Vreese, Claes (2021-02)
    In the last 10 years, many canonical findings in the social sciences appear unreliable. This so-called "replication crisis" has spurred calls for open science practices, which aim to increase the reproducibility, replicability, and generalizability of findings. Communication research is subject to many of the same challenges that have caused low replicability in other fields. As a result, we propose an agenda for adopting open science practices in Communication, which includes the following seven suggestions: (1) publish materials, data, and code; (2) preregister studies and submit registered reports; (3) conduct replications; (4) collaborate; (5) foster open science skills; (6) implement Transparency and Openness Promotion Guidelines; and (7) incentivize open science practices. Although in our agenda we focus mostly on quantitative research, we also reflect on open science practices relevant to qualitative research. We conclude by discussing potential objections and concerns associated with open science practices.
  • The effectiveness of credibility indicator interventions in a partisan context
    Duncan, Megan A. (SAGE Publications, 2019-12-01)
    Audiences, who cannot investigate the credibility of most news stories for themselves, rely on noncontent heuristic cues to form credibility judgments. For most media, these heuristics were stable over time. Emerging formats of journalism, however, require audiences to learn to interpret what new heuristics credibility cues mean about the story’s credibility. In an experiment, participants (N = 254) were given instructions about how to interpret the credibility cues in three formats as they read a politicized news story, which were compared with a control condition with no instructions. Results show the timing and source increase the effectiveness of the instructions.
  • What's in a Label? Negative Credibility Labels in Partisan News
    Duncan, Megan A. (SAGE Publications, 2020-10-13)
    Concern about partisan audiences blindly following partisan news brands while simultaneously being unable to distinguish the credible news from hoax news dominates media criticism and theoretical inquiries. Companies and media literacy advocates have suggested credibility labels as a solution. This experiment tests the effectiveness of credibility labels at the intersection of partisan news brands and partisan news stories. Using news credibility theory and Partisan Media Opinion hypothesis, it investigates the effects credibility labels have on partisan audiences, partisan news brands, and partisan news stories. It finds that credibility labels may be an effective news literacy tool, and that credibility is enhanced when the news story’s ideological perspective does not match the ideology of the news brand.
  • An Agenda for Open Science in Communication
    Dienlin, Tobias; Johannes, Niklas; Bowman, Nicholas David; Masur, Philipp K.; Engesser, Sven; Kümpel, Anna Sophie; Lukito, Josephine; Bier, Lindsey M.; Zhang, Renwen; Johnson, Benjamin K.; Huskey, Richard; Schneider, Frank M.; Breuer, Johannes; Parry, Douglas A.; Vermeulen, Ivar; Fisher, Jacob T.; Banks, Jaime; Weber, René; Ellis, David A.; Smits, Tim; Ivory, James Dee; Trepte, Sabine; McEwan, Bree; Rinke, Eike Mark; Neubaum, German; Winter, Stephan; Carpenter, Christopher J.; Krämer, Nicole; Utz, Sonja; Unkel, Julian; Wang, Xiaohui; Davidson, Brittany I.; Kim, Nuri; Won, Andrea Stevenson; Domahidi, Emese; Lewis, Neil A.; de Vreese, Claes (Oxford University Press, 2020)
    In the last 10 years, many canonical findings in the social sciences appear unreliable. This so-called “replication crisis” has spurred calls for open science practices, which aim to increase the reproducibility, replicability, and generalizability of findings. Communication research is subject to many of the same challenges that have caused low replicability in other fields. As a result, we propose an agenda for adopting open science practices in Communication, which includes the following seven suggestions: (1) publish materials, data, and code; (2) preregister studies and submit registered reports; (3) conduct replications; (4) collaborate; (5) foster open science skills; (6) implement Transparency and Openness Promotion Guidelines; and (7) incentivize open science practices. Although in our agenda we focus mostly on quantitative research, we also reflect on open science practices relevant to qualitative research. We conclude by discussing potential objections and concerns associated with open science practices.
  • Technologies, Ethics and Journalism’s Relationship with the Public
    Duncan, Megan A.; Culver, Kathleen Bartzen (Cogitatio Press, 2020-07-27)
    Drones can provide a bird’s eye view of breaking news and events that can be streamed live or used in edited news coverage. Past research has focused on the training and ethics of journalists and drone operators. Little attention, however, has been given to audiences and their acceptance and perception of ethics. We suggest that audiences who are open to personal technology use will perceive news media using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as more ethical in an extension of the Diffusion of Innovation Theory. In a survey (N = 548) of adults living in the United States, we explore the correlates between trust, technology, privacy, and the use of UAVs. Results suggest all three are positively correlated with openness toward drone journalism. We find the audience has preferences for the types of news stories that should be covered using drones. Participants indicated they welcome drone journalism when covering traffic and investigative stories, but not celebrities and politicians. The findings have implications for newsrooms, suggesting transparency and outreach to educate people on the technology could help build trust. Further, the results suggest that Diffusion of Innovation theory can be applied when mediated through news media.
  • Exploring Mechanisms of Narrative Persuasion in a News Context: The Role of Narrative Structure, Perceived Similarity, Stigma, and Affect in Changing Attitudes
    Tamul, Daniel J.; Hotter, Jessica C. (University of California Press, 2019-10-28)
    Two exploratory studies demonstrate, for the first time, that narrative persuasion can diminish the stigma attached to social groups featured in journalistic narratives. Study 1 shows narrative format improves stigma toward Syrian refugees indirectly through narrative engagement, perceived similarity, and meaningful affect. Decreases in stigma also improved attitudes toward refugees. Study 2 replicates these findings against a separate participant pool, an additional story topic, and compares changes in engagement, stigma, and attitude to a non-narrative fact sheet and a control condition. A preregistered third study seeks to validate the finding that narratives can elicit destigmatization and disentangle the roles of story exemplars from story structure.
  • What’s in a Font?: Ideological Perceptions of Typography
    Haenschen, Katherine; Tamul, Daniel J. (2019-12-20)
    Although extensive political communication research considers the content of candidate messages, scholars have largely ignored how those words are rendered – specifically, the typefaces in which they are set. If typefaces are found to have political attributes, that may impact how voters receive campaign messages. Our paper reports the results of two survey experiments demonstrating that individuals perceive typefaces, type families, and type styles to have ideological qualities. Furthermore, partisanship moderates subjects’ perceptions of typefaces: Republicans generally view typefaces as more conservative than Independents and Democrats. We also find evidence of affective polarization, in that individuals rate typefaces more favorably when perceived as sharing their ideological orientation. Results broaden our understanding of how meaning is conveyed in political communication, laying the groundwork for future research into the functions of typography and graphic design in contemporary political campaigns. Implications for political practitioners are also discussed.
  • Video Games as a Multifaceted Medium: A Review of Quantitative Social Science Research on Video Games and a Typology of Video Game Research Approaches
    Ivory, James Dee (Review of Communication Research, 2013)
    Although there is a vast and useful body of quantitative social science research dealing with the social role and impact of video games, it is difficult to compare studies dealing with various dimensions of video games because they are informed by different perspectives and assumptions, employ different methodologies, and address different problems. Studies focusing on different social dimensions of video games can produce varied findings about games’ social function that are often difficult to reconcile— or even contradictory. Research is also often categorized by topic area, rendering a comprehensive view of video games’ social role across topic areas difficult. This interpretive review presents a novel typology of four identified approaches that categorize much of the quantitative social science video game research conducted to date: “video games as stimulus,” “video games as avocation,” “video games as skill,” and “video games as social environment.” This typology is useful because it provides an organizational structure within which the large and growing number of studies on video games can be categorized, guiding comparisons between studies on different research topics and aiding a more comprehensive understanding of video games’ social role. Categorizing the different approaches to video game research provides a useful heuristic for those critiquing and expanding that research, as well as an understandable entry point for scholars new to video game research. Further, and perhaps more importantly, the typology indicates when topics should be explored using different approaches than usual to shed new light on the topic areas. Lastly, the typology exposes the conceptual disconnects between the different approaches to video game research, allowing researchers to consider new ways to bridge gaps between the different approaches’ strengths and limitations with novel methods.
  • Taking it from the team: Assessments of bias and credibility in team-operated sports media
    Mirer, Michael; Duncan, Megan A.; Wagner, Michael (2018-10-29)
    Team- and league-operated media play a growing role in the sports media system. Few have looked at how audiences perceive the credibility of in-house content, which regularly mimics traditional sports journalism. An experimental analysis finds that even among fans, independent media content is rated more credible than that produced in-house. Fans view stories accusing their team of wrongdoing as biased even as they find them credible.