Two from Communication Department join study of mass media and the family

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 15, 2005 – Two Virginia Tech professors, Stephanie Sargent, assistant professor of communication, and Jim Weaver, professor of communication and of psychology, both of Blacksburg, have been invited to participate as co-investigators in a large scale investigation of the impact of mass media on the family.

The project, which is funded by the W. L. Stevens Foundation, is being conducted in the Seattle area. Sargent and Weaver join an interdisciplinary team of researchers from several other universities -- including Andrews University, Emory University, Loma Linda University, and the University of Miami -- to explore how media use, in general, and Internet use, in particular, impacts a variety of cognitive and behavioral aspects of marital and family dynamics. The project director is John V. Stevens Jr. of Riverside, Calif. The principal investigator is Gary L. Hopkins of the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif.

Weaver's research focuses on the social and psychological effects of mass communication, communication theory, and the uses of media messages. A current focus is exploration of the consequences occasioned by exposure to media content. He has testified before government committees a number of times on the subject of violence and sex in the media, most recently in November 2004 at a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space hearing on the "Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction and the Effects of Addiction on Families and Communities."

Weaver received his bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from Indiana University.

Sargent is a specialist in mass media effects and interpersonal communication. Her research focuses on understanding communicative traits and behaviors as a function of individual differences with a particular emphasis on biological sex and gender-role socialization. Within this framework, her research has explored computer use and behavior, media content preferences, and aspects of interpersonal communication. Recently, Sargent has published papers examining why individuals use the Internet (Amiel & Sargent, 2004) and the impact of threatening news images on how people read computer-mediated news stories (in press).

Sargent received her bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech, her master's degree from Auburn University and her Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.