Communication Theory and Methodology 2017 Abstracts

OPEN CALL COMPETITION
Mediated Food Cues: A Theoretical Framework for Sensory Information • Lauren Bayliss, University of Florida • Through a series of propositions, this paper outlines how message strategies related to the feelings food causes, such as full-stomach feelings and taste enjoyment, could be used to communicate food and nutrition information to laypeople. To incorporate somatosensory information into communication theory, this paper develops a framework for food and nutrition message processing based on perceived information importance and comprehension as conceptualized in Subjective Message Construct Theory (SMCT). Within this framework, concepts from food studies research are reviewed and applied to strategic health communication. By integrating concepts from food studies, nutrition labeling, and individual differences specific to food, such as eating restraint, the framework provides an approach to understanding how food messages may be different from other forms of communication. Finally, an example is given of how the theoretical framework can be applied when communicating about a specific type of nutrition information, energy density.

Competitive frames and the moderating effects of partisanship on real-time environmental behavior: Using ecological momentary assessment in competitive framing effects research • Porismita Borah • One of the major findings from cognitive sciences demonstrates that humans think in terms of structures called frames. The present study conducted two focus groups and two experiments to understand the influence of competitive frames on real-time environmental behavior. To capture real-time behavior, the second experiment used Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) methodology via mobile technology. Findings show that a message with elements from both problem-solving and catastrophe frames increased individuals’ environmental behavior. This relationship is moderated by political ideology, such that only those participants who identified as Democrats and Independents showed more pro-environmental behavior. Overall, Republications were low on pro-environmental behavior compared to the Democrats. But within the Republicans, participants showed more likelihood for pro-environmental behavior in the catastrophe framed condition. Implications are discussed.

More Than a Reminder: A Method for Using Text Messages to Communicate with Young People and Maintain an In-Person Bystander Intervention Training • Jared Brickman; Jessica Willoughby, Washington State University; Paula Adams • One problem facing in-person communication campaigns is that the positive outcomes can fade over time. Text may be a perfect supplement. This study tested and evaluated a method for using text messages to maintain in-person intervention efforts. Over the course of four months, participants in the messaging group received a weekly text. At the end of the study, the program was rated highly by participants and the messaging group scored significantly higher on attitudinal outcomes.

Emotions, political context and partisan selective sharing on Facebook • Yingying Chen, Michigan State University; Kjerstin Thorson, Michigan State University • The research examines the social sharing of partisan media messages under political contexts. Using with behavioural data, we analysed Facebook posts of Breitbart, Occupy Democrats and the New York Times before and after the 2016 presidential election. The result further confirms that emotional arousal is more correlated to social sharing, but partisan media and political contexts interacts with emotion responses to influence social sharing. Further results show that emotional responses to partisan media messages are different and changes as the circumstance of identity bolster or identity threat.

Measuring Information Insufficiency and Affect in the Risk Information Seeking and Processing Model • Haoran Chu, University at Buffalo, SUNY; Janet Yang • “Utilizing structural equation modeling and latent difference score technique, the current study analyzed six different ways to model information insufficiency and four ways to model affective response in testing the risk information seeking and processing (RISP) model in two contexts – the 2016 presidential election and climate change. Latent difference score was found to be an effective approach in measuring information insufficiency as a latent structure. However, classic regression method provides a better fit to the data. Consistent with previous research, valence and uncertainty appraisal dimensions seem to be viable ways to measure affective response.

When Information Matters Most: Adapting T.D. Wilson’s Information-seeking Model to Family Caregivers • Susan Clotfelter, Colorado State University • Family caregivers – the unpaid backbone of the American system of medical care – contribute an estimated $470 billion to the U.S. economy each year. Information-seeking constitutes one of their primary duties, including information related to the care recipient’s condition and disease progress, insurance, medications, therapies, and nutrition, as well as complex medical, insurance and financial systems. This paper synthesizes a key information-seeking model, that of T.D. Wilson (1999) with a list of cognitive barriers drawn from a research review and a theory from social stratification research. It proposes a new, expanded model that attempts to capture the influences, challenges and barriers now known to form part of the information journeys of family caregivers. The paper also examines the findings of recent caregiver studies in light of the proposed new model, an effort that offer indications for future research and interventions to assist this important, but overlooked and overworked demographic.

Bypassing vs. Complying? Predicting circumvention of online censorship in networked authoritarian regimes • Aysenur Dal, The Ohio State University • Circumvention technologies offer alternative means for bypassing online censorship created by networked authoritarian governments to combat online dissent and suppress information. This paper explores the correlates of circumvention technology use by examining the influence of account capital-enhancing Internet use, attitudes toward Internet censorship, regime support as well as risk perceptions about Internet activities. Using an online survey of approximately 2000 Internet users in Turkey, we employ quantitative methods to examine what determines the frequency of use as well as motivations behind being a user or a non-user of circumvention tools.

Social Identity Theory’s Identity Crisis: The Past, Present, and Future of a Human Phenomenon Metatheory • Julia R. DeCook, Michigan State University • Social Identity Theory is a phenomenon that is acknowledged and researched across many social science disciplines. Despite its prevalence and popularity, the way that the theory is applied and further, how social identity is measured, is incredibly inconsistent and convoluted. The purpose of this manuscript is to bring together different perspectives of this phenomenon through an exploration of the theory’s history, development, and growth, as well as to propose three dimensions of social identity and social identification to advance understanding as a discipline of this phenomenon. In the literature, social identification and social categorization are often confused and used interchangeably, when these are two distinct processes, as proposed by the original proponent of Social Identity Theory, Henri Tajfel. This manuscript aims to bring together Tajfel’s original conceptualization as well as other approaches to the theory and attempts to propose dimensions of “social identification.” Specifically, a dimension is proposed consistent with previous research on social identity theory and mass communication research, as well as two others based on a reading of the literature focusing on social identity theory. Future directions for developing a valid measure of social identity in the context of mass communication and media research are also discussed, and how this application can help to advance the theory as well as the discipline.

In the eye of the beholder: How news media exposure and audience schema affect the image of the U.S. among the Chinese public • Timothy Fung; Wenjie Yan; Heather Akin • This study presents a theoretical framework that examines foreign publics’ use of foreign news from domestic media and pre-existing schema to form an image of another nation. To test the proposed theoretical framework, we examined Chinese citizens’ image of the U.S. using the data from a survey collected from a representative sample of Chinese adults. The findings suggest that the role of foreign news from domestic media is conditional on pre-existing schema, including individuals’ patriotism and whether they have traveled to the U.S. We conclude by discussing the implications of the results for research investigating national image and stakeholders interested in predictors of national image.

Walking a Tight-Rope: Intimacy, Friendship, and Ethics in Qualitative Communication Research • James Gachau, University of Maryland • Qualitative research asks scholars to adopt and maintain a critical reflexivity that presents the biases, influences, and interests of the researcher vis-a-vis the research being conducted. A meta-method analysis of a research project involving participants who were close friends of the researcher is presented to explore the ways the author navigated the messy world of ethnographic research. The style and personality of the researcher is foregrounded, and put at the same critical plane as that of the research subject, to illustrate its centrality in giving a less false account than one in which the investigator is assumed to be “objective” in the traditional sense of the word. As Lindlof and Taylor write, “we should appreciate that researchers have been socialized by various cultural institutions to inhabit and perform their bodies in preferred ways” (2011, p. 139). Thus, the cultural and historical background of the investigator is examined to illuminate how it affected and influenced the research. The findings suggest that “intimate curiosity” (Lindlof and Taylor, 2011), coupled with the mutual recognition and respect of friendship (Honneth, 2014), can serve as effective tools to produce more robust data and yield more nuanced interpretations. The hope is that the essay offers a significant contribution to reflexivity and helps bolster the ethnographic imagination in communication research.

Do Computers Yield Better Response Quality than Smartphones as Web Survey Response Devices? • Louisa Ha, Bowling Green State University; chenjie zhang, Bowling Green State University • This study consists of two field experiments on college students’ media use surveys to examine the effect of smartphones and computers as response entry device on Web survey response quality across different question types and delivery mode. We found that device effect on survey quality was only significant when interviewers were present. Difference in device was not significant in overall response quality in the e-mail delivered Web survey. When given a device choice in the e-mailed delivered Web survey, computers were twice as more likely to be chosen as the response device. Yet immediate response rate was much higher for smartphones than computers. Implications of the findings to survey researchers were discussed.

Identification and negative emotions lead to political engagement: Evidence from the 2016 U.S. presidential election • Jennifer Hoewe, University of Alabama; Scott Parrott, University of Alabama • This study puts forth a model of political identification, where identification with political figures influences emotions and eventually changes levels of political engagement. Using a survey of young adults immediately following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, negative emotions are shown to mediate the relationship between identification with a political candidate and post-election political engagement, including election-related information seeking and sharing as well as intentions to participate in political activities. That is, when individuals identify with a political candidate and that candidate experiences something negative – producing negative emotions in supporters – that emotional experience leads to increases in political engagement.

The Effect of Presumed Media Influence on Communicative Actions about Same-sex Marriage Legalization • Yangsun Hong, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Catasha Davis, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Shawnika Hull, George Washington University • This study examines presumed media influence of a social issue, legalization of same-sex marriage (SSM), on non-LGB individuals’ communicative action. Data (N = 1,062) was collected in four Midwestern cities two months before the SSM law passed nationwide, when majority of media coverage was favorable toward SSM legalization. We found that presumed media influence on others shaped perception of positive climate of public opinion toward SSM legalization, which influenced their opinion. Our results indicate that presumed media influence indirectly shaped willingness to express opinion about the issue and willingness to speak out against those stigmatizing LGB populations, through perceived climate of public opinion and own opinion about the issue. We discuss the role of communicative action in contributing to public deliberation and democratic policy making processes. We also claim that mass media may indirectly decrease social stigma to sexual minorities, and ultimately contribute to social change.

Multitasking and Task Performance: Roles of Task Hierarchy, Sensory Interference, and Behavioral Response • Se-Hoon Jeong; Yoori Hwang • This study examined how different types of multitasking affect task performance due to (a) task hierarchy (primary vs. secondary multitasking), (b) sensory interference (low vs. high interference), and (c) behavioral response (absent vs. present). The results showed that task performance was reduced when the given task was a secondary task, when sensory interference was high, and when behavioral response was present. In addition, there was an interaction between task hierarchy and sensory interference, such that the effect of task hierarchy was more pronounced when there was sensory interference. There were some differences between Task 1 and Task 2 performance as an outcome. Theoretical, practical, and methodological implications for future multitasking research are further discussed.

Effects of Weight Loss Reality TV Show Exposure on Adolescents’ Explicit and Implicit Weight Bias • Kathrin Karsay, University of Vienna; Desirée Schmuck • This study investigated the effects of exposure to a weight loss reality TV show on the implicit and explicit attitudes toward obese individuals. An experimental study with N = 353 adolescents was conducted. The results indicate that for those individuals who expressed fear of being obese, TV show exposure reinforced negative explicit attitudes via the activation of perceived weight controllability. Furthermore, for all adolescents TV show exposure enhanced negative implicit attitudes toward obese individuals

Scale Development Research in Communication: Current Status and Recommendation for the Best Practices • Eyun-Jung Ki, University of Alabama; Hyoungkoo Khang; Ziyuan Zhou, The University of Alabama • This study was designed to analyze articles published in 11 communication journals that address new scale development from its inception until 2016. A total of 85 articles dedicated to developing a new scale for the communication disciplines. This study particularly examines characteristics of the exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis procedures, including sample characteristics, factorability, extraction methods, rotation methods, item deletion or retention, factor retention, and model fit indexes. The current study identified a number of specific practices that were at variance with the current literature in terms of EFA or CFA. Implications of these findings and recommendations for further research are also discussed.

Who is Responsible? The Impact of Emotional Personalization on Explaining the Origins of Social Problems • Minchul Kim, Indiana University; Brent Hale, Indiana University; Maria Elizabeth Grabe, Indiana University; Ozen Bas, Indiana University • An experiment was designed to examine the influence of two news formats on how news consumers attribute causes for social issues. One story format followed the traditional objectivity standard of factual reporting while the other represented a human interest approach to storytelling, adding an emotional case study of the social issue to factual information. Participant (N=80) trait empathy was included as an additional factor in assessing how news formats might influence responsibility assignment for social problems. A week time delay between exposure to stimuli and open-ended responses enabled the observation of how (if at all) different story formats influence news consumer explanations of the causes behind social problems. Our findings show that participants with higher levels of trait empathy express a greater shift to collectivistic attribution after watching personalized news stories than do participants with lower levels of trait empathy. Our findings also suggest that the personalization of news stories and trait empathy does not affect individualistic attribution of social problem causes.

The Study of Semantic Networks and Health News Coverage: Focusing on Obesity Issues • Sunghak Kim • This work investigates news coverage related to obesity to understand various discourses and relationships surrounding the health issues and explain their dynamics. Health news stories were analyzed to observe which issues, frames, and sources of obesity-related topics are shared through mass communication. By applying semantic network analysis, a map of relations and flows among different objects and attributes became apparent. Furthermore, the research illustrates the change of semantic network structures over different time periods.

An Analysis of Process-Outcome Framing in Intertemporal Choice • Ken Kim • The current study was designed to explore how framing as process versus outcome works in intertemporal choice. Given the importance of earlier savings, one-hundred nineteen college students were recruited for the experimental study to investigate their intentions to begin saving earlier for retirement (i.e., begin saving at age 25 or as soon as you leave school). The obtained data indicated that a message emphasizing the process of earlier savings for retirement (that is, process framing) was more effective than a message stressing the outcome of earlier savings (that is, outcome framing) in intertemporal choice. Further, a process frame was more effective when it was presented in terms of losses than gains. However, the data revealed no difference between gain and loss framing in the outcome framing condition. Some implications for creating persuasive messages to encourage earlier savings were discussed.

Mediated Vicarious Contact with Transgender People: How Do Narrative Perspective and Interaction Depiction Influence Intergroup Attitudes, Stereotyping, and Elevation? • Minjie Li, Louisiana State University • Taking the experimental design approach, the present study investigates how narrative perspective (Ingroup Perspective vs. Outgroup Perspective) interacts with valence of intergroup interaction depiction (Positive vs. Negative) in transgender-related media content to redirect people’s attitude towards and stereotyping of transgender people, transportation, and elevation responses. The findings reveal that the outgroup perspective narrative is more likely to elicit 1) positive attitudes towards the featured transgender character and the transgender outgroup as a whole; 2) higher levels transportation; 3) stereotyping transgender people with genuine qualities; and 4) meaningful, mixed and motivational responses. However, the positive depiction of transgender-cisgender intergroup interaction can only prompt more positive attitudes towards the featured transgender character, and elicit meaningful affect and physical responses.

Relational Maintenance and the Rise of Computer-Mediated Communication: Considering the Role of Emerging Maintenance Behaviors • Taj Makki, Michigan State University • Existing typologies of relational maintenance behaviors do not account for communication behaviors that take place between romantic partners in online environments. This paper presents findings from a systematic literature review where the author aimed to assess the extent to which typologies for offline behaviors correspond with research findings pertaining to the use of CMC between romantic partners. Based on this review, and in efforts of moving toward a typology of relational maintenance behaviors that accounts for the precise range of efforts exchanged between partners to sustain relationship quality, the present paper proposes that additional dimensions be considered for their relevance to relationship outcomes. Specifically, conflict management and surveillance management are proposed as two maintenance-related behaviors that have emerged with the increasing use of computer-mediated communication between romantic partners. The present paper explicates each of these constructs in the context of relational maintenance and its intended outcomes, and proposes avenues for future research toward an all-inclusive typology of relational maintenance behaviors.

React to the Future: Political Projection, Emotional Reactions, and Political Behavior • Bryan McLaughlin; John Velez; Amber Krause, Texas Tech Universtiy; Bailey Thompson • This study demonstrates the important mediating role political projection—the process of cognitively simulating future political scenarios and imagining the potential effects of these scenarios—plays in determining how campaign messages affect voting behavior. Using an experimental design, we find that campaign messages that are narrative in nature (compared to non-narrative) encourage higher levels of political projection, which elicits higher levels of anger, which, in turn, is negatively related to support for the opposing candidate.

Media Violence and Aggression: A Meta-Analytic Approach to the Previous 20 Years of Research • Alexander Moe, Texas Tech University; Joseph Provencher, Texas Tech University; Hansel Burley • “This Meta-analysis examines research on the effects that violent media content has on individuals’ aggression. A total of a total of 28 studies reporting data for 2840 participants remained for analysis. The findings indicated the presence of homogeneity (Q = 37.10, df = 27, p < 0.05). The implications both for the current state of media violence research, as well as future research interests and practices are discussed.

Corporate Sustainability Communication as Legitimizing and Aspirational Talk: Tullow Oil’s Discursive Constructions of Risks, Responsibility, and Stakeholders • S. Senyo Ofori-Parku, The University of Alabama • Critics of corporate social responsibility (CSR) worry that corporations use CSR communication to ‘greenwash’ their practices. But a recent version of the communication as constituting organization (CCO) perspective argues that such communication, even if misleading, can create positive organizational improvements. Underpinned by the corporate sustainability framework (which combines commonplace notions of CSR with risk management), the discourse-historical approach (DHA), and CCO, this study examines how an oil multinational—Tullow Oil— discursively constructs its sustainability issues and stakeholders. From a predominantly technical perspective of sustainability, Tullow constructs its identity as an aspirational, engaged and a responsible business. As seen in a shift in its Global Reporting Initiative certification from C+ in 2007 to A+ in 2013, Tullow’s CS talk has a potential to constitute desirable practices. However, the extent to which such discourse results in sustainable corporate outcomes hinges on whether it is used to merely reproduce or transform institutionalized notions of sustainability associated corporate practice. By combining the DHA and CSF, this research provides a novel technique for issues and stakeholder analysis—who and what is important to the organization. The implications are discussed.

Unsupervised analyses of dynamic frames: Combining semantic network analysis, hierarchical clustering and multidimensional scaling • Joon-mo Park • This study analyzes the online discourse frames of the fine particulate air pollution issue in South Korea from May 12, 2016 to June 11, 2016. To detect frames, semantic networks combined with unsupervised learning techniques such as hierarchical clustering and multidimensional scaling were applied. 9,241 web documents posted on portal websites were collected. After extracting keywords from those documents, word frequency and co-occurrence matrix were measured. Through calculating the Euclidean coefficient, proximities between words were deducted. The analyses focused on the most frequently occurring 25 keywords which further functioned as elements in the hierarchical clustering analysis. Then multidimensional scaling showed the results over three phases of time period through changes of frequently occurring frames and proximities between concepts. In the first phase, many health-related and government-related concepts appeared. Next, the second phase, after government released official announcement on news, the government-related words were associated with individual responsibilities such as ‘mackerel’, ‘pork belly’, and ‘diesel price’. Institutional cause-related keywords appeared along with several energy-related keywords in the last phase. Moreover, in Phase 1 and 3, ‘China’ and ‘ultrafine dust’ were mentioned in terms of health risk, but in Phase 2, ‘China’ was associated with governmental coping ability. Finally, keywords such as ‘diesel price’, ‘related stock’ revealed what the public also concerned was the side effects of air pollution in daily lives.

Who are the Voters? A Contemporary Voter Typology Based on Cluster Analysis • Ayellet Pelled, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Hyesun Choung, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Josephine Lukito, 1990; Megan Duncan, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Song Wang, Department of Statistics, University of Wisconsin-Madison; “Winnie” Yin Wu; Hyungjin Gill, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Jiyoun Suk, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Trevor Kniaz • Most research on political party identification has focused on partisan voters and the consequences of political polarization. Independent voters are also an important feature of the political landscape, but far fewer studies have examined them. Too often researchers treat independent voters as a monolithic entity, using a single response category to identify them. But as made clear by the 2016 Presidential election, there are vast differences among independent voters. This study explores distinct clusters of voters that emerged in the context of the 2016 Presidential election. Using national survey data (N = 2,582) collected shortly before the November election, we conducted a cluster analysis to classify individuals into subgroups that share similar profiles of opinions concerning different personal values and worldviews. Nine clusters are distinguished: mainstream liberals, mainstream conservatives, anti-establishment liberals, anti-establishment conservatives, engaged floaters, patriotic liberals, disengaged isolates, disengaged floaters, and pragmatic liberals. Two of the nice clusters represent the traditional two party ideology while the other seven clusters are mixed in their party affiliation. Clusters differ in their political attitude and voting behaviors. Our study also reveals patterns in how engaged and disengaged partisans and independents choose media for their news source. The results suggest that voters’ party affiliation and political attitudes are not organized in a single dimension of ideological liberal/conservative. The political ideology is rather a multidimensional trait that should be measured in a more elaborated way so that can properly predict people’s political behavior including their voting choices.

Credibility and Persuasiveness of News Reports Featuring Vox Pops and the Role of Populist Attitudes • Christina Peter • Exemplification research has consistently shown strong effects of vox pops exemplars, i.e. ordinary citizens voicing their opinion in news reports, on audience judgments. In this context, ordinary citizens as opinion-givers were found to be more persuasive compared to other sources, such as politicians. The main reason for this is seen in the fact that ordinary citizens are more trustworthy, yet this has not been empirically tested. In our study, we look at spillover effects of source trustworthiness on the news report itself. We investigate whether the integration of vox pops in a news article enhances the credibility of the article, and whether this mediates effects on personal opinion. In addition, we look at whether populist attitudes (i.e., the belief in the homogeneity and virtuosity of the people and a mistrust in elites) moderate these effects. In a web-based experiment, we confronted participants with news articles where arguments were put forward either by the journalist or by ordinary citizens as vox pops. Results indicate that the integration of vox pops enhances the credibility of the news article, which in turn leads to stronger persuasive effects. These effects were only found for people holding strong populist attitudes.

Differential Uses and Gratifications of Media in the Context of Depression • Sebastian Scherr, U of Munich • Depression is the most common metal disorder linked with both higher and lower media use behaviors. Nevertheless, findings on the use of particular media in depression are scattered, dependent on individual motivations, and media demand characteristics. The associations between depression, media use, and motives are explored using robust regressions and representative data. Depression links with higher TV use, computer gaming, and music, and with lower use of newspapers with motives being both compensatory and non-compensatory.

Measurement Invariance and Validation of a New Scale of Reflective Thoughts about Media Violence across Countries and Media Genres • Sebastian Scherr, U of Munich; Anne Bartsch; Marie-Louise Mares, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Mary-Beth Oliver, Pennsylvania State University • This study investigates reflective thought processes and meaning-making about media violence as a fact of social reality within two survey samples from the US and Germany. Building on a large item pool derived from qualitative interviews, we suggest a five factorial self-report scale to assess reflective thoughts about media violence. Given the established measurement invariance of the furthermore cross-conceptually validated scale across countries and genres, we strongly recommend its use and replicative future work.

Authenticity: Toward a unified definition in communication • Diana Sisson, Auburn University; Michael Koliska, Auburn University • This study draws upon previous definitions and characteristics of authenticity from philosophy, psychology, and sociology to highlight the insufficient conceptualization and explication of authenticity in an interactive media environment. Findings revealed research foci across the various communication fields regarding authenticity lie primarily on the message sender neglecting what an authentic message is or how a message receiver may understand authenticity. This study is a first step to critically define authenticity in communication.

Opinion Climates à la Carte – Selective and Incidental Exposure Impacts on Polarization, Public Opinion, and Participation • Daniel Sude, The Ohio State University; Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick; Melissa Robinson, The Ohio State University; Axel Westerwick • Hypotheses regarding political polarization were derived from cognitive dissonance, motivated reasoning, and spiral of silence theories. A selective exposure study (N = 118) featured six political online articles and examined impacts on attitudes, public opinion perceptions, and participation likelihood. Multi-level modeling demonstrated that encountering article leads influenced attitudes per article stance. Attitude-consistent messages were selected more often. Article selection, even if attitude-discrepant, influenced public opinion perception in line with article stance and fostered participation likelihood.

Pathways to Fragmentation: User Flows and Web Distribution Infrastructures • Harsh Taneja; Angela Xiao Wu, Chinese University of Hong Kong • This study analyzes how web audiences flow across online digital features. We construct a directed network of user flows based on sequential user clickstreams for all popular websites, using traffic data obtained from a panel of a million web users in the United States. We analyze these data to identify constellations of websites that are frequently browsed together in temporal sequences, both by similar user groups in different browsing sessions as well as by disparate users. Our analyses thus render visible previously hidden online collectives and generate insight into the varied roles that curatorial infrastructures may play in shaping audience fragmentation on the web.

“You Must Be This Anthropomorphic” to Write the News: Machine Attribution Decreases News Credibility and Issue Importance • Frank Waddell, University of Florida • Do readers prefer news attributed to human journalists due to the operation of a similarity attraction effect, or is news attributed to “robot journalists” preferred because automation is perceived as objective? An experiment was conducted to answer this question using a 2 (source attribution: human vs. machine) x 2 (robot recall: no recall vs. recall) design. Results reveal that machine attribution decreases news credibility and issue importance via lower source anthropomorphism and higher expectancy violations.

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Public Opinion Polls: Third-Person Effects and Voter Intentions • Jane Weatherred, University of South Carolina; Anan Wan, University of South Carolina; Yicheng Zhu, University of South Carolina • Focusing on the 2016 U.S. presidential election, this study investigates how the American voting public perceives public opinion polls in terms of desirability of the message, partisanship, political affiliation and knowledge. The public’s intentions to impose restrictions on the polls were also examined relative to the third-person effect (TPE) gap. Results from a survey of 807 respondents indicate that the public does not understand how polls are conducted, yet still perceives that the polls are biased, and the greater the TPE gap, the more likely a person will support restrictions on the polls.

Political Economy, Business Journalism and Agency: An Examination • Rob Wells, University of Arkansas • The political economy theory tradition of media studies is a powerful framework to examine business journalism, particularly news decisions in wake of the genre’s origins as a market participant. This theory is often used to criticize business reporting, but the literature rarely examines some fundamental theoretical assumptions and conflicts that arise from using the political economy theory. This theory, for example, has been criticized for its deterministic view of individual agency. Critics contend the theory’s focus on control by an elite superstructure minimizes the potential for individual initiative and innovation. This places the political economy theory in a basic conflict with individual agency, a core normative value in the journalism field, one with enduring power and embedded in institutional frameworks. The historical and sociological underpinnings of journalistic professionalism, for example, emphasize the role of reporter and editor autonomy, and these forces continue to have staying power. This essay seeks to answer the question, how does the political economy’s view of agency coexist, if at all, with the journalistic professional ideal of autonomy? The essay explores this question through a content analysis of business journalism coverage during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, for example, provides some significant examples of individual reporting initiative, particularly at a small trade industry newspaper called the National Thrift News. The essay concludes by noting the political economy theory fails to predict the extraordinary work of this small trade newspaper, which succeeded in large part due to a strong journalistic professional culture.

Picture Yourself Healthy–How Social Media Users Select Images to Shape Health Intentions and Behaviors • Brianna Wilson; Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick • To test predictions derived from the SESAM model, participants (N = 265) selectively viewed Instagram-like postings featuring healthy or unhealthy food imagery. Beforehand, participants reported habits and perceived expert-recommendations regarding food intake. After viewing postings, participants chose gift cards representing healthy or unhealthy food purchases and indicated food intake intentions. Results show existing eating behavior predicts selective exposure to healthy or unhealthy food imagery, which in turn, shapes gift card choices and food intake intentions.

No Comments, but a Thumbs-down: Estimating the Effects of Spiral of Silence on Online Opinion Expression • Tai-Yee Wu, University of Connecticut; Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, University of Connecticut; David Atkin • This study tests Spiral of Silence theory in online news discussions by examining willingness to express one’s opinion via commenting, sharing, and voting. Results (N = 530) indicate that while fear of isolation is generally a negative predictor of opinion expression, perceived online anonymity positively predicts commenting. Moreover, one’s minority status and reference group support encourage the use of a thumbs-down, and opinion congruity with the news and issue involvement motivate news sharing.

Is It Top-Down, Trickle-Up, or Reciprocal?: Testing Longitudinal Relationships Between Youth News Use and Parent and Peer Political Discussion • Chance York, Kent State University • Using data from a three-wave, parent-child panel survey and Slater’s Reinforcing Spirals Model (RSM) as an analytical framework, I document a “trickle-up” political socialization process whereby baseline levels of youth news use and political discussion with peers motivate future political talk with parents. Results suggest youth possess agentic political power and play an active role in their own political socialization, rather than being passive receivers of “top-down” influence. Methodological suggestions for modeling variables are discussed.

Bridging the Divide Between Reason and Sentiment: Exploring the Potentials of Emotionality in Journalism • Sheng Zou • Following the line of scholarship to take emotionality seriously in communication, this paper theorizes the nexus between emotions/affects and journalism in the digital era, and develops a five-facet conceptual framework to delineate the civic potentials of emotionality in news reporting by transcending the conventional dualism between reason and emotion. It proposes a view of emotionality as an ally to rationality, and as an intermediary bridging public and private spheres, connecting the individual and the collective.

2017 ABSTRACTS

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