Category Archives: Conferences

How Lay Audiences Respond to Disclosure of Scientific Uncertainty (NCA Presentation)

My coauthors and I just presented a study at the virtual National Communication Association conference. Since the conference was free to attend, I’m sharing the video here.

We examined the impact of communicating uncertainty about a new genomic discovery — as opposed to certainty — on news audience responses. Disclosing uncertainty led to greater news credibility and trust in the scientists, and less perceived hype.

Presenting at the HINTS User Conference

I had a wonderful time presenting at the HINTS User Conference in Bethesda in May. This meeting brought together a fascinating range of research projects that use the publicly available Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) dataset. I presented the digital health engagement framework that I’ve been developing with colleagues at the National Cancer Institute and Mayo Clinic, as part of the Information and Communication Technology session. Our hope is that this framework will be helpful for researchers in synthesizing the range of digital health engagement-related measures in existing national datasets such as HINTS. We got great feedback and hope to publicly share it soon!

Meta-analysis wins ‘Top Four’ in health comm @ ICA Prague

This past May at the International Communication Association‘s annual meeting, I got to present the latest version of a meta-analysis of studies examining the potential for narrative messages to lower resistance to persuasion.

My coauthor Dr. Ye Sun and I received two awards for the paper: top student-led paper in health communication, and one of the top four papers in health communication.

Curious about the findings of our analysis? In short: narratives had a small but significant advantage over non-narratives when it came to reducing resistance to persuasion—which is either exciting or cause for caution, depending on how you look at it!

We also found that the association between higher narrative engagement and lower resistance held up across studies. In other words, when people are more transported into a story or are identifying with the main characters, there’s a good chance they’ll be more persuadable. Across studies, there were several moderators of these effects, which we’ll reveal in the manuscript once it’s published.

Winning awards in the Health Communication division was a great honor, and it was also a great excuse to visit Prague for the first time!

Speaking of the power of stories, the streets of Prague seem to be filled with Kafka references…

Narrative Persuasion Meta-analysis Wins Eason Prize @ AEJMC in Chicago

Meta-analyses are no small feat, but the hard work is worth it! My major project of the past year — a meta-analysis of narrative persuasion research — received a top student paper award at the 2017 AEJMC conference in Chicago.

For this project, I synthesized studies of the effect of narratives on audience resistance, compared to delivering information in non-narrative formats like rhetorical arguments or statistical information. Narratives are frequently used in health campaigns to promote healthy behaviors, as well as in advertising to distract consumers from critical processing.

The extent of the persuasive power of narratives isn’t fully known, however. My meta-analysis aims to quantify the influence of narratives on resistance across all studies to-date. I presented preliminary findings at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in August.

The project won Top Student Paper in the ComSHER division (which stands for Communicating Science, Health, Environment and Risk). It was also awarded the Eason Prize, created in memory of former PhD student Lori Eason, to support graduate students in doing important science communication research. This was a great honor.

Another highlight of the Chicago trip was spending the day working with colleagues at Northwestern University (here’s the killer view from their office) as we made preparations for a productive writing retreat this fall in Park City, Utah. Our upcoming projects will span narrative persuasion, psychological reactance, genetic communication, and more.

There was even time for tango on the beach!

‘Loss/Gain Framing and Reactance’ Wins Top Paper @ DCHC

Our paper, “Loss and Gain-Framing and Psychological Reactance: Impacts on Intentions to Exercise,” won Overall Top Paper award at the D.C. Health Communication (DCHC) conference this year. The conference theme was “Patient-Centered Health Communication.”

Exercise habits are difficult to change, but how recommendations are framed – as the benefitsof performing a behavior or the drawbacks of not doing so – can make a difference. For this study, we examined loss/gain framing and psychological reactance – two important concepts in message persuasion – in the context of exercise promotion.

We found that gain frames elicited less threat to freedom, which triggered a sequential chain of decreased reactance, increased attitudes, and increased intentions to exercise. In short, gain-framed exercise messages were more effective.

My coauthors were Jakob Jensen, Courtney Scherr, Katheryn Christy, Melinda Krakow, and Kaylee Crossley. I presented the paper at the DCHC conference in April 2017, and that’s me and Courtney accepting the award from Anne Nicotera and Gary Kreps. I also got to explain reactance theory in more detail in a segment that aired online.