Research and Insights

CJC at the 68th Annual International Communication Association Conference 2018

May  24-29, 2018
Prague, Czech Republic


Jordan Alpert, assistant professor of Advertising

“If I’m dying, I want a call”: Patient and Oncologist views of Patient Portal Communication

Co-authors: Bonny Morris, Virginia Commonwealth University; Maria Thomson, Virginia Commonwealth University; Khalid Matin, Virginia Commonwealth University; Richard Brown, Virginia Commonwealth University

Abstract: Patient portals are becoming widespread throughout healthcare systems. Initial research has demonstrated that they positively impact patient-provider communication and patients’ health knowledge, but little is known about their impact in the cancer setting, where highly complex and uncertain medical data is available for patients to view. To better understand communicative behaviors and perceptions of the patient portal and how it is utilized in oncology, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 48 participants: 35 patients and 13 oncologists. Thematic analysis identified that portals help to enhance participation during in-person consultations, increase patients’ self-advocacy and builds rapport with providers. However, patients’ comfort level with reviewing information via the portal depended upon the severity of the test. Oncologists worried about patient anxiety and widening health disparities, but acknowledged that the portal can motivate them to expedite communication about laboratory and scan results.

Mary Ann Ferguson, professor of Public Relations

Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Communication Strategies: 100 Chinese and International Logistics Companies

Co-author: Yangzhi Jiang, Louisiana State University 

Abstract: This research compared the content of CSR communication and stakeholders’ expected dimensions of CSR communication by analyzing the corporate websites of 100 Chinese logistics companies and international logistics companies, especially studying CSR-related webpages. Content analysis results indicated that Chinese and international logistics companies shared similarities in their website CSR communication regarding exposing limited CSR commitment content while highlighting CSR motivations. Besides, both Chinese and international logistics companies often used a self-promotional tone. However, the results also indicated several significant differences between Chinese and international logistics companies. In contrast to former researchers’ findings, relationships with the government were more important for Chinese companies than for international companies. CSR codes or policies and safety issues were presented less on Chinese logistics companies’ websites than on those of international companies, though the proportion of Chinese companies that presented their CSR policies or ethics codes on their sites had increased since earlier studies. Based on these findings, the authors provided practical suggestions for public relations professionals communicating about CSR through websites.

Moderators of Emotional Appeals in CSR Communication: Linking Effective CSR communication to Public Relationship Building

Award: Public Relations Faculty Top Paper Award

Co-author:  Baobao Song, Virginia Commonwealth University

Abstract: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been a major proactive public relations strategy and a focal area of academic research for the past several decades. This study examined a CSR communication strategy that increased donations to CSR programs by 25% with emotional message appeals (pride vs. sympathy) and group-membership identification appeals by a strategic focus on stakeholders’ sociocultural backgrounds (self-construals). Rooted in corporate communication and public relations perspectives, it addresses the question of (1) how to maximize the impact of CSR investment on social causes by effectively engaging stakeholders’ prosocial behavior in CSR programs (i.e. donation to CSR programs) and (2) how stakeholder prosocial engagement in CSR programs can be translated into organizational outcomes (i.e. organization-public relationships).

Carla Fisher, assistant professor of Advertising

Examining predictors of diagnosed fathers’ openness with adult sons about prostate cancer and familial risk

Abstract: Relational openness is an important predictor of fathers’ openness about PCa/risk with sons. That masculinity did not predict openness about PCa/risk might be due to adaptation to PCa or sample characteristics (e.g., predominantly White, non-Hispanic). Being from the U.S. predicted openness with sons about familial risk and screening, a finding that warrants further investigation. Preliminary qualitative results support the finding that family history of PCa predicts greater openness about PCa. Fathers’ passionate voices about managing PCa/risk communication with sons more openly than their own fathers did with them helps explain this finding.

Tom Kelleher, chair and professor of Advertising

CEO Ghost Posting and Voice: Effects on Perceived Authentic Leadership, Organizational Transparency, and Employee-Organization Relationships

Co-authors: Rita Linjuan Men, University of Florida; Patrick Thelen, University of Florida

Abstract: In the digital media era, when a rising number of CEOs have adopted social media tools to amplify their voice and to engage stakeholders (Weber Shandwick, 2012; Men & Tsai, 2016), CEO ghost posting, its acceptability, and its effect on organizational outcomes have become increasingly important issues for both ethical theory and practice. An online survey of a national sample of employees of mid- to large-size organizations in the U.S. (N=549) was conducted to examine employees’ general acceptance of CEO ghost posting practices on social media and to test a conceptual model that links CEO ghost posting and perceived CEO voice to perceptions of authentic CEO leadership, organizational transparency, and employee-organization relationships. CEO ghost posting was found to be commonly expected and often accepted by employees. However, results of the structural equation model indicate that employee perceptions of CEO voice were found to play a more important role than their beliefs about CEO ghost posting in relation to perceptions of CEO authentic leadership, organizational transparency and employee-organization relationships.

Spiro Kiousis, executive associate dean, professor of Public Relations

Political Public Relations and Public Diplomacy: Visual Strategies Abroad

Abstract: Increasingly, the impact of visual communication on political public relations and public diplomacy is growing in importance. Despite this growth, our understanding of its influence is limited. Using agenda-building theory and mediated public diplomacy as conceptual foundations, this study will identify visual strategies used by the Trump administration in international communication efforts at the first, second, and third-levels of agenda building. The first level will focus on strategies designed to raise the salience of issues or other topics of strategic importance to the United States. The second level will focus on salience of attributes of those topics in international discourse. Finally, the third level will focus on strategies designed to tie together topics and attributes as pairs or bundles using network theory as the conceptual foundation. Variables such as economic investment, cultural proximity, and diplomatic status can moderate and mediate the extent to which such relationships exist in various context. Examples will be pulled from multiple cases, including North Korea, Iran, and Trump’s inaugural visit to the Middle East. It will also offer a framework for empirically studying and assessing their impact. The implications for future research and practice will also be discussed.

Moon Lee, assistant professor of Public Relations

The Sinking of a Ferry, Ending of a Presidency: Aftermath of South Korean Government’s Mishandling of the Worst Ferry Sinking Accident

Co-author: Mary Ann Ferguson, University of Florida

Yu-Hao Lee, assistant professor of Telecommunication

An Affordance Approach to Friending Practices on Multiple Social Network Sites

Co-author: Chien Wen Yuan, Fu Jen University

Abstract: With more choices of social network sites (SNSs) at people’s fingertips, people can maintain and manage larger networks and various social ties. Thus, the decision to “friend” different types of social ties through SNS can involve complex deliberations that involves the sites’ perceived affordances, the type of relationship ties, and expected responses. This study uses an affordance approach to investigate the dynamic interaction between users’ perceived social affordances of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn and their friending behaviors with respect to strong ties, weak ties (maintenance tie, network ties, and professional ties), and parasocial ties. Our results from an online survey (N=630) found that people’s friending decisions not only involves considering the affordances of the SNSs and the type of social ties, but also network accessibility and cost of managing multiple networks. The study contributes to our understanding of how perceived affordances of SNS affect relationship initiation through friending.

Of Boss Fights and Minions: The effects of opponent formidability on player competence, guilt, and affect in violent video games

Abstract: Some violent actions in video games support player competence needs and increase enjoyment, while other violent actions cause discomfort and guilt. We argue that the opponent’s formidability can affect how players interpret violent encounters and their experience of performing violence. A 2 (opponent size) x 2 (opponent strength) x 2(games) experiment was conducted to examine the effects of opponent formidability on player competence, guilt, and post-game affect. The results showed that there was an interaction effect between size and strength on competence and guilt. Players experienced more competence and less guilt when encountering big and strong opponents, or small and weak opponents. Guilt mediated formidability and post-game affect while competence did not. The effects of formidability on competence and guilt diminished with repeated exposure to video game violence. The finds have theoretical implications for understanding how players perceive and experience violent actions in video games.

Rita Linjuan Men, associate professor of Public Relations

It’s about How Employees Feel! Examining the Impact of Emotional Culture on Employee-Organization Relationships

Co-author: Katy Robinson, University of Florida

Abstract: Based on a random sample of employees (n = 506) working in various organizations and industries throughout the United States, we examined the influence of emotional culture on employee attitudes. This study specifically evaluates the impact of organizational emotional cultures of joy, love, fear, and sadness on the quality of employee–organization relationships (EORs). Results indicated joy, happiness, excitement, and companionate love, affection, and warmth, can meet employees’ psychological need for mutual respect, care, connection, and reliance on one another in the organization. Such culture also contributes to employees’ trust, satisfaction, feeling of mutual control, and commitment toward the organization. Accordingly, when the organization’s emotional culture and atmosphere is downhearted, discouraged, and sad, employees are less likely to develop quality relationships with the organization. When the organization’s emotional culture is fearful, nervous, and scared, employees tend to feel disconnected with the organization and co-workers and their psychological need for relatedness is less likely to be met. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Yulia Strekalova, research assistant professor

Using Social Media to Assess Care Coordination Goals and Plans for Leukemia Patients and Survivors

Co-author: Kimberly E. Hawkins, University of Florida; Leylah Drusbosky, University of Florida; Cristopher Cogle, University of Florida

Abstract: Care coordination has been shown to have a positive effect on the management of chronic disease. Specific to the management of leukemia, coordination may occur among primary care physician, medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, cardiologists, and genetics specialists. Experiencing gaps in communication and care coordination, many health consumers seek instrumental support in their social circles, including online forums and networks. The goal of this theory-guided study was to provide an in-depth assessment of how individuals use online forums to deliberate about their goals and plans for leukemia care coordination. Guided by the planning theory of communication, the data were collected from the American Cancer Society Cancer Survivors Network and included 125 original posts and 1,248 responses. Thematic analysis and axial coding were applied to analyze the data. Goal-related themes included overcoming the diffusion of care coordination and achieving health management cohesion. Planning themes included social health management, communication self-efficacy, and role deliberation. Online patient forums provide an interactive platform for patients and caregivers to engage in active conversations, which in turn can serve as idenitifiers of care coordination needs. Communication with those who share similar experiences allows cancer patients and survivors to accumulate functional health literacy, gain communication self-efficacy, and articulate a care coordination role acceptable to them.

T. Frank Waddell, assistant professor of  Journalism

The “not so scary world” of social media news: Trending online news decreases first order social reality perceptions

Abstract: Trending news on social media tends to be selected by algorithms based on popularity, leading to a proliferation of “soft news” such as entertainment, sports, and popular culture news. Does exposure to soft news affect readers’ perceptions of social reality? If so, does the presumed curator of the social media feed moderate effects? An online experiment (N = 270) tested these questions using a 3 (trending news type: soft vs. hard vs. no news control) x 3 (source prime: human vs. algorithm vs. no prime control) design. Results revealed that soft news decreases first order social reality perceptions.

Wayne Wanta, professor of Journalism

Reactions to Zika case data: Effects of data visualization and past occurrence information

Co-authors: Jueman Zhang, New York Institute of Technology, and Yi Wang, University of Louisville

Abstract: This study examined the effects of data presentation and past occurrence information on participants’ reactions to Zika case data. It compared the effectiveness of two types of thematic maps—the choropleth map and the proportional circle map—with that of tabular data. Thematic maps facilitated performance in spatial oriented understanding of relative risk magnitudes, which required evaluating the data as a whole or comparing relationships in the data, whereas tabular data enhanced performance in symbolic oriented recognition memory of Zika case counts by location, which required extracting discrete data values. Thematic maps were superior to tabular data in facilitating behavioral intentions for risk aversion. The choropleth map was more effective than the proportional circle map in facilitating understanding of relative risk magnitudes, whereas the proportional circle map was more effective than the choropleth map in enhancing risk perception. Past occurrence information increased risk perception and behavioral intentions for risk aversion.

Graduate Students

Osama Albishri, doctoral student

Public Diplomacy in the Digital Age: Exploring the Saudi Arabia and the U.S. Governments’ Agenda Building during Trump’s Visit to the Middle East

Co-authors: Sofiya Tarasevich, University of Florida; Pamala Proverbs, University of Florida; Spiro Kiousis, University of Florida; Abdullah Alahmari, Virginia Commonwealth University

Abstract: Although some research on how traditional instruments of mediated public diplomacy have been used as tools for international agenda building and agenda setting has been conducted, few empirical investigations on how digital communication instruments could be used for this purpose have been made. Moreover, many studies have been conducted to examine media agenda setting in Middle Eastern countries, but little has been done to investigate the implications of agenda building in that area of the world.4 To fill this research gap, the current study aims to contribute to this growing area of research by exploring international agenda building in relation to Trump’s Middle Eastern visit through mediated public diplomacy efforts and to investigate its influence on media and public agenda. The study also analyzes the effectiveness of digital communication (e.g., infographics, tweets, videos) in agenda building at three levels (objects, attribute, co-occurrence) and compares these with the traditional methods of government communication (e.g., press releases, speeches). All PR messages by the Saudi and the U.S. governments, along with an adequate sample of the news coverage from eight news outlets in both countries, will be content analyzed in their native languages to test the hypotheses. A sample of 3,000 tweets by the public, retrieved from three Twitter hashtags initiated by the Saudi government, will also be used for analysis to measure public opinion regarding Trump’s visit to the Middle East. The findings of this study will provide theoretical and implications to the agenda building, agenda setting, and mediated public diplomacy scholarships and will provide practical implications for PR firms that deal with two countries that have different interests, cultures, and media environments.

Phillip Arceneaux, doctoral student

U.S. Public Diplomacy and International Law: Legal Frameworks for the Study of State-Sponsored Mediated Public Diplomacy

Abstract: Research sees public diplomacy as a communication activity linked with the field of international relations; similar literature links the field of international relations to international law. Despite such transitive links, the legality of public diplomacy is seldom explored in international law. The purpose of this essay was to argue the vital links between state-sponsored persuasive broadcasting and the impact such acts have on inter-state relations, thus classifying public diplomacy as a topic prime for legal considerations. This essay attempted to determine if mediated public diplomacy is a violation of international law through the lens of foreign intervention and self-determination. Such work contributes explications of propaganda, psychological operations, and public diplomacy based on the most modern conceptions of the activity, theoretical contributions to framing theory, realism, and world systems theory, and legal and ethical insights on the extents to which television, radio, and the Internet are being used to influence the internal political processes of foreign state actors.

Tweeting after Terrorism: Twitter crisis communication following the 2016 Brussels bombings

Abstract: Acts of terror have been common place across humanity’s history, but as time has evolved, so too have the means by which terrorist attacks are met and resolved with. Recently, social media platforms have offered governmental response agencies a new alternative to communicating not only with the public but internally. While all cultures are inherently diverse, few terrorist attack scenes displayed more cultural and governmental diversity than the Belgium capital of Brussels, playing host to local, regional, national, and international governing bodies. This research offers an interdisciplinary theoretical framework and methodological design for the study of organizational response efforts on Twitter during the 2016 Brussels airport and metro station attack.

Rachel Damiani, doctoral student

A ‘Two-Way Street’: Exploring How Scientists and Citizen Scientists Accommodate to Create a Shared Language

Co-author: Janice Krieger, University of Florida

Abstract: When members from different social groups interact, such as citizen scientists and scientists, they either adjust to or deviate from the language needs of their partner, according to the Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT). Cultivating citizen scientists’ voices in research hinges upon their engagement with scientists who use a highly nuanced language of science, or jargon. However, it remains unknown whether scientists are accommodating to citizen scientists’ needs. Thus, the purpose of this case study was to uncover how citizen scientists and scientists navigate the language of science. We conducted in depth interviews (N = 24) and participant observations hours (N = 30) with citizen scientists and scientists. Our results revealed that scientists accommodated to citizen scientists when their perceptions of citizen scientists’ jargon preferences aligned with citizen scientists’ actual preferences. This finding suggests that a dynamic and dyad-driven application of the CAT can facilitate communication between scientists and citizen scientists.

Beyond Grant Funding: Scientists’ and Patients’ Perceptions of the Costs and Benefits of Patient-Centered Research

Co-author: Janice Krieger, University of Florida

Abstract: Representing the voices of patients in health research has become increasingly pervasive due to its potential to improve health outcomes. Despite governmental and monetary support for patient involvement, little is known about how participating researchers and patients perceive the costs and benefits of collaborating with one another. Thus, the purpose of this study was to uncover patients’ and researchers’ costs and benefits to participating in patient-centered health using the social exchange theory as a theoretical framework. We conducted in-depth interviews (N = 24) with patients and researchers who had both participated in patient-engaged research. The results of this study extend the current literature about patient stakeholder engagement by providing theoretically-grounded data about scientists’ and patients’ perceived costs and benefits of working together in health research. These findings can be addressed by program coordinators to reduce both groups perceived costs and enhance the benefits of their participation

Practice Makes Empowered: Cultivating Elderly Patients’ Voices to Protect their Health through an Interactive Training

Co-authors: Debbie Treise, University of Florida; Summer Shelton, University of Florida; Amanda Kastrinos, University of Florida

Abstract: Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) result in approximately 75,000 deaths each year. Elderly patients are particularly susceptible to contracting HAIs. Physicians can reduce the spread of HAIs by washing their hands; however, handwashing compliance remains suboptimal. The CDC urges patients to remind their physicians to wash their hands, but older patients are reluctant to make this request. Thus, the purpose of this study was to empower elderly patients to ask their physicians to wash their hands through a training video. We conducted focus groups with elderly people (N = 82) to uncover their specific barriers to making the request. Then, we addressed their concerns in a training that allowed them to practice making the request. In-depth interviews (N = 19) revealed that elderly patients felt confident to make the request after completing the training. Empowering elderly patients can reduce the spread of deadly HAIs and encourage older people to voice their concerns.

Elizabeth Flood-Grady, post-doctoral associate

How Cancer Patients and Caregivers’ Preferences for Receiving Web-based Materials Influence their Decision to Participate in Cancer Clinical Trials

Co-authors: Samantha Paige, University of Florida; Rachel Damiani, University of Florida; Donghee Lee, University of Florida; Jordan Neil, University of Florida; Deaven Freed, University of Florida; Janice Krieger, University of Florida

Abstract: Tailoring is effective at shaping individuals’ health decisions. Yet, research has not examined patients and caregivers’ preferences for receiving online materials or how receiving information in a format that matches their preferences affects cancer-related decisions. Participants (N = 206) were randomly assigned to a Perceived Tailoring Condition (PTC) or a Non-Tailored Comparison (NTC) and asked to provide insight on a website created for cancer patients to help them make better decisions about treatment. There were no differences in patients and caregivers’ preferences for web-based materials. Participants who indicated a preference for receiving information in multiple format types perceived the website matched their preferences more than those with mixed (unmatched) preferences. Our mediation model with perceptions that information matched preferences (IV), intention to seek information about CCTs (mediator), and to participate in a cancer registry (DV) was significant. The effect was stronger among those who perceived the website had been tailored.

Lauren Griffin, post-doctoral associate

Applying User-Centered Design Principles to the Development of a Colon Cancer Screening mHealth App

Co-authors: Alyssa Jaisle, University of Florida; Peter Carek, University of Florida; Thomas George, University of Florida; Janice Krieger, University of Florida; Eric Laber, North Carolina State University; Benjamin Lok, University of Florida; Francois Modave, University of Florida; Folakemi Odedina, University of Florida

Abstract: More mHealth applications (apps) reach consumers each year. However, the design process for many of these apps draws heavily from the existing health infrastructure, which may be ill-suited for adaption in the online sphere. Thus, there is a need to develop mHealth applications to improve public health using standardized processes in order to take into consideration the context and needs of all users. This paper presents a case study in the development and implementation of an mHealth app to encourage rural patients over the age of 50 to request a regular colorectal cancer (CRC) screening test from their physician. Our methods include participant observation and focus groups and we apply user-centered design (UCD) principles to develop and describe the phases of the app development process. The case study presents information about the development of the app gathered through participant observation and interviews with the co-investigators, as well as document analysis.

Amanda Kastrinos, doctoral student

Print to Podium: Exploring Media Coverage of 2016 Olympic Athletes’ Perceptions about the Zika Virus

Co-author: Rachel Damiani, University of Florida

Abstract: The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil thrust potential Olympians into the midst of the unprecedented outbreak of the Zika virus. Because parasocial interaction theory purports that athletes can have tremendous influence on fans’ opinions and behavioral intentions regarding health issues, it is important to understand how media framed athletes’ response to their risk of contracting Zika at the Games and the possibility of a global epidemic. The authors found that media employed three main frames: 1) the risk of Zika was small compared to potential Olympic glory, 2) participating in the Games is an individual choice between family and athletic career, and 3) Zika concerns employed as a convenient excuse to avoid a troubled Games. The combination of these frames painted a contradictory portrait of athletes’ risk perception, which arguably created uncertainty regarding fear of the Zika virus and the Games for the fans that admire them.

Liudmila Khalitova, doctoral student

The Impact of National Culture on the Salience of CSR Issues in International Media Coverage

Abstract: This paper explores the relative importance of five CSR domains (economic responsibility, stakeholder responsibility, environmental responsibility, social component, and voluntariness) in media content published across seventeen countries located in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America.

Sining Kong, doctoral student

How Perceived Similarity Moderates Sympathy and Pride Appeal Organ Donation Messages

Abstract: Existing research on organ donation has generally focused on message types but ignored how people’s innate preference, perceived similarity, affects the effectiveness of organ donation messages. To examine this issue, this study conducted a 2 (perceived similarity vs no perceived similarity) X 2 (sympathy vs pride) between-subjects factorial experiment to examine how perceived similarity affects emotional appeals in organ donation messages. The results revealed that regardless of emotional appeals, perceived similarity drives people’s intention to promote organ donation campaign and being an organ donor. Furthermore, no matter exposed to which type of emotional appeal message, perceived similarity induces both more sympathy and pride, which indicates a mixed altruistic and egoistic motivation in organ donation intention. These findings offer important theoretical and applied implications for future research.

Xiaomeng Lan, doctoral student

Order Effects in Competitive Framing: An Attitude Congruence Perspective

Co-author: Yu-Hao Lee, University of Florida

Abstract: Using self-affirmation theory, the present study examines how the ordering of balanced, two-sided news frames can interact with audiences’ preexisting attitudes to impact information elaboration, perceived credibility of the message, and attitude strength. The study used a 2 (pre-existing attitude: positive vs. negative) x 2 (message order: congruent-first vs. incongruent-first) x 2 (issues) mixed-design experiment (n=125). The findings showed that when people encountered attitude-incongruent arguments that threatened their identity, they responded defensively by elaborating more attitude-congruent thoughts to affirm their preexisting attitudes. However, affirming the users’ identities by showing congruent arguments first did not lead to more elaboration of attitude-incongruent thoughts. The study fills a gap in framing studies by providing evidence that the effects of a mixed-frame message on people’s attitudes and cognitive processing can be influenced by differences in the sequencing of attitudinally congruent and incongruent arguments within the message.

Donghee Lee, doctoral student

Does Natural Mean Healthy? How Natural Label Contributes to Nutritional Self-Betrayal Among Health-Conscious Consumers

Co-author: Janice Krieger, University of Florida

Abstract: Thanks to the recent surge of interest in health and well-being, American consumers are more health-conscious now than ever. Despite this awareness, however, even self-described health- conscious consumers still eat unhealthy food for pleasure. This study provides a conceptual model describing the process through which health-conscious individuals may justify unhealthy food consumption. Using the Cognitive Dissonance Theory, this paper argues that individuals rely on the loophole effect, which refers to the psychological process of engaging in active self- deceit. Individuals can use this effect to capitalize on the healthfulness commonly associated with the word “natural” that often appears on the labels of unhealthy food, convincing themselves that the food is actually good for them. Once health-conscious individuals recognize a natural label on the unquestionably unhealthy food package, they experience guilt from the conflict between their health and hedonic goals. This paper provides a counterargument to widely-accepted information deficit models in this field by arguing that the unhealthy food choices of consumers are founded neither on the lack of information nor their vulnerability to food manufacturers’ deceitful advertising. Rather, consumers are an active agent making self- serving choices, using a “natural” label as an excuse to attribute blame for their health and hedonic goal conflict. This paper attempts to advance Cognitive Dissonance Theory by presenting possible factors influencing one’s food-related dissonance process.

Casey McDonald, doctoral student

The Effects of Cultural Psychology and Outcome Framing

Co-author: Leping You, University of Florida

Abstract: Despite the abundance of research on cultural differences between collectivists and individualists, few studies yet been found to examine how framed messages (promotion oriented vs prevention oriented) affect individuals’ intentions on committing altruistic behavior, specifically in the context of blood donation. In order to advance the scholarly literature and shed light on developing effective PSAs targeting minority communities, this study conducted a 2 (collectivism vs individualism) x2 (gain vs loss) x2 (in-group vs out-group) factorial between subjects experiment, in an attempt to explore the relationship between individualism-collectivism, types of outcome framing, and donation intentions.

Samantha Paige, doctoral student

Exploring the Psychometric Properties of a Health Information Seeking Scale among Older Adults with Chronic Disease

Co-authors: Elizabeth Flood-Grady, University of Florida; Janice L. Krieger, University of Florida; Michael Stellefson, University of Florida; M. David Miller, University of Florida

Abstract: This study presents a psychometric assessment of four items from the National Health Information Trends Survey (HINTS) that measure perceived health information seeking challenges. An online survey was completed by 684 patients in the USA living with chronic disease. The unidimensional structure was confirmed. Item and person fit statistics were within appropriate ranges with inconsistent evidence for measurement stability. Greater challenges were associated with being older, female, and having a high degree of eHealth literacy and trust in online medical doctors. Findings support the use of this scale among the intended population and provide implications for scale improvement.

Daniel Pimentel, doctoral student

Be Careful What You Twitch For: Dispositional Inferences of Videogame Streamers Based on In-Game Behavior

Co-authors: Yu-Hao Lee, University of Florida; Sri Kalyanaraman, University of Florida

Abstract: Individuals form judgments of others based on observed behavior, often attributing behavior to internal dispositions rather than accounting for contextual factors. This fundamental attribution error may exist within videogame streaming communities like Twitch, where users observe hours of in-game behaviors. One popular behavior involves invasive and evasive interactions with nature. In games such as No Man’s Sky players acquire resources (e.g., carbon) via destruction of nature (invasively) or by harvesting from renewable sources (evasively). These forms of virtual environmental resource acquisition (VERA) may influence attribution of environmental dispositions, such that observers may attribute destructive VERA to disconnectedness with nature. To examine this attribution error within the context of videogame streaming, a counterbalanced within-subjects experiment (N=44) presented participants with two videos of gameplay footage featuring either invasive or evasive VERA. VERA-type significantly influenced attitudes and pro-environmental dispositions such that evasive players were perceived as more connected with nature. Implications are discussed.

Customizing your demons: Affective implications of anthropomorphizing the “anxious avatar”

Co-author: Sri Kalyanaraman, University of Florida

Abstract: Individuals actively customize avatars (virtual self-representations) to match aspects of their actual or ideal self, a process shown to contribute to psychological well-being. This phenomenon is explained by self-discrepancy theory, which argues that congruence with one’s avatar reduces cognitive dissonance. However, psychology and communication scholars have largely overlooked the role of undesirable self-concepts, namely mental health ailments, which also form part of one’s identity. In theory, customization of an avatar representing undesirable self-concepts presents a self-regulatory paradox: individuals desire to reduce discrepancies with a self-representation, yet they also desire to enlarge discrepancies with a disliked-self. To reconcile this, two experiments explored the psychological implications of imbuing avatars with undesirable self-concepts. In study 1 (N=90), participants customized an avatar to represent anxiety within themselves (i.e., an anxiety avatar). Customization significantly reduced state anxiety compared to a control group, supporting the proposed discrepancy-reduction mechanism. Study 2 (N=122) employed a 2 (customization: yes, no) x 2 (destruction: yes, no) between-subjects design, with participants either destroying or observing an anxiety avatar. Destruction of customized anxiety avatars resulted in the largest reduction in anxiety among all conditions, supporting the proposed discrepancy-enlargement mechanism. Theoretical and practical implications for the field of avatar-based e-mental health are discussed.

Look around or look ahead: Information processing of traditional versus 360-degree video narratives

Co-authors: Sining Kong, University of Florida; Min Xiao, University of Florida; Sri Kalyanaraman, University of Florida

Abstract: The advent of 360-degree video has changed the affordances of visual storytelling significantly by enabling the immersion of the viewer in fully spherical 360-degree recorded environments in which the viewer can control her viewpoint in real-time. The interactivity-as-information-control perspective, asserts that interactivity can manifest itself differently across a variety of media, such as affordances of control or modification of website content, which elicit more positive effects for users compared to less interactive alternatives. In the context of 360-degree video, interactivity is characterized as the ability for audiences to manipulate the point-of-view in real-time within captured scenes through click-and-drag gestures. The immersive and interactive affordances associated with 360-degree video has encouraged content creators to tout the medium as being “the ultimate empathy machine”. That is, organizations are increasingly relying upon 360-video to raise awareness of, and mobilize audiences around, social issues. One such social issue that seems ripe for exploration using immersive, interactive narratives is that of environmental awareness/climate science. The current investigation explores the psychological effects and processes governing user responses to a 360-degree video. The results reported here offer some preliminary empirical support for one of the chief goals of this experiment: to investigate the positive effects of interactive narratives, operationalized through viewpoint control in 360-degree videos, in influencing perceptions of environmental communication. The findings have several interesting theoretical implications and offer a promising direction for future 360-degree video research.

Voices of the Unsung: Social Presence, Interactivity and Empathy-building Empathy in 360 Video

Co-authors: Yu-Hao Lee, University of Florida; Shiva Halan, University of Florida; Sri Kalyanaraman, University of Florida; MinJi Kim, University of Florida; Dave Mclean, University of Florida

Abstract: 360 video is considered an “empathy machine,” in part because it places audiences in the perspective of the other. Despite its popularity, its influence on empathy is not fully understood. Two possible mechanisms driving empathy within 360 video are social presence (sense of being with others) and interactivity (degree of control over media content). To elucidate how 360 video may influence empathic outcomes through these factors, a 2 (presence of people: high/low) x 2 (interactivity: high/low) between-subjects experiment (N=100) was conducted testing 360 videos about climate change refugees. Results demonstrate that presence of people contribute to prosocial behaviors (donations) through empathic concern, whereas interactivity did not increase empathy or behaviors. However, presence of people led to significantly higher perceptions of user control compared to videos without people. Results are promising and elucidate the role of social presence and interactivity in 360 video. Findings and avenues for future research are discussed.

Stephenson Waters, doctoral student

Analyzing the Relationships Between Privacy Issues and Institutional Trust with Smarthome Devices

Co-author: Eugene Minchin, University of Florida 

Abstract: Smarthome devices such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo are becoming increasingly popular, giving users the ability to obtain relevant information using voice commands that are analyzed through online data collection and analysis. The purpose of this paper is to analyze how an individual’s levels of privacy concerns impact their willingness to share information using these smarthome devices. This paper explored how users latently weigh internal risks and benefits when deciding to use these devices, and how their levels of trust in others and the companies impact what information is shared. Results indicated that those with higher levels of privacy concerns and lower levels of institutional trust are generally more wary about these devices listening in on their activities in their homes.

Leping You, doctoral student

Bystander Effects in Social Network Sites: Visual Anonymity, Group Size, and Intervention Intentions

Co-author: Yu-Hao Lee, University of Florida

Abstract: Traditional offline bystander studies argued that people are less likely to take action as the number of bystanders increase. However, studies of bystander effects in the online context have not been conclusive. This study conducted a 2 (anonymity) x 4 (bystander number) factorial experiment to examine bystanders’ intentions toward four different degrees of intervention behaviors. The findings indicate that anonymity and bystander numbers do not affect people’s intervention intentions regarding passive or non-confrontational interventions. However, it does affect people’s intention to engage in direct interventions such as confronting the bullies. The relationship between bystander numbers and intervention intention was not a linear relationship. Instead, Initial intervention intentions increased with bystander numbers but drops off after a critical point. By including several levels of bystanders and intervention behaviors, this study shows that bystander decisions are dependent on a combined consideration between anonymity, bystander numbers, and intervention behaviors.

How Social Ties Contribute to Collective Actions on Social Media: A Social Capital Approach

Cen “April” Yue, doctoral student

Catching Up on Crisis: Effects of Crisis Attributes on Emotions and Informational Channel Preferences

Co-author: Sifan Xu, University of Maryland

Abstract: Incorporating crisis communication, emotion, and media choice literature, this manuscript explores the effects of crisis attributes on publics’ discrete emotions and information channel selection. An experiment was conducted (N = 1100) and the structural equation modeling was performed. The findings show that crisis attributes (uncertainty, urgency, severity) indirectly affect channel selection through crisis emotions. Crisis attributes collectively elicit more fear and anxiety (attribution-independent emotions) than anger and sympathy (attribution-dependent emotions). People who face more uncertainty in general require more concrete information and do not have channel preferences, while crisis urgency prompts individuals to seek out non-traditional media channels. People turn to more credible channels when the crisis is perceived severe. Attribution-dependent emotions play a significant mediating role between crisis attributes and information channel selection. These findings stress the heuristic value of the crisis attributes and the need to study publics’ communicative behavior on various channels during crises with crisis emotions as a key factor.

The Effect of Descriptive and Evaluative Assessments of Over-Parenting on College Adjustment: The Family Support and Protective Buffering for U.S. Domestic and Chinese International Students

Co-authors: Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, Michigan State University; China Billotte Verhoff, Purdue University; Steven Wilson, University of South Florida; Jenna McNallie, Augsburg University

Abstract: Over-parenting, a growing phenomenon of over-involved and protective parents, has long-lasting negative effects on children. This study surveyed 430 first-year undergraduate students in the United States and 95 international first-year students from China studying in the U.S. to test mediators (i.e., family support and protective buffering) that explain the relationship between over-parenting and adjustment to college. Over-parenting was primarily indirectly and negatively related to adjustment outcomes through family support and protective buffering, though direct effects were found in two cases for Chinese international students. This study also identifies that students (especially Chinese students) differentiate between evaluative and descriptive questions about over-parenting. Implications for family and intercultural communication scholars are discussed along with practical implications for families of college students and college adjustment professionals.