Annenberg Presentations at the 2015 NCA Annual Convention

Annenberg faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows will present a rich variety of research at the National Communication Association (NCA) 101st Annual Convention, to be held Nov. 19-22 in Las Vegas. Below are a list of papers to be presented, along with their abstracts, followed by a list of Annenberg Faculty who will be panelists or respondents at the conference. Four of the papers will be receiving Top Paper Awards, as noted below.

Paper Presentations

Lyndsey Beutin, Author
When Slavery is Everything but Black: Presidential rhetorical uses of ‘slavery’ from 1865—present
Although the U.S. has never formally apologized for slavery, politicians have readily applied the word "slavery" to describe other social ills. This rhetorical strategy – calling something slavery to evoke moral outrage and build public support for doing whatever is necessary to eradicate a wrong – presents a tension. The history of American chattel slavery is rendered too controversial and unsavory to substantively discuss in politics but applying the term to other political issues is deemed rhetorically acceptable. Based on a review of 695 presidential speeches, I argue that the word "slavery" is used in presidential rhetoric as a metaphor in order to address contemporary sociopolitical issues rather than to discuss the nation's past. By using the term slavery metaphorically, presidents have naturalized and neutralized the metaphor, unhinging it from race and a history of oppression. In so doing, presidents have directed public attention away from the existence of, and state responsibility for, the racialized aftereffects of slavery, while recuperating the nation's moral authority by positioning itself as a global liberator in the national imagination. I draw my insights by analyzing how chattel slavery is discussed during Reconstruction; the presidential silence on the topic in the early 20th-century; and slavery's rhetorical re-emergence as a metaphor for Communism and drugs in the mid-20th century.

Morgan Ellithorpe, Co-Author
From Serial Watching to Binge Watching: Effects of Condensed Television Viewership on Cultivation and Narrative Experience
Binge watching, defined as viewing three or more episodes of the same television program in a single day, has become a popular activity in recent years (Centris, 2014). Television consumers are no longer tied to traditional broadcast schedules and are instead able to view a nearly endless supply of television content through online streaming services like Netflix. This change in viewing strategy opens up new questions for research. In the current study, we address two common areas of media research (cultivation theory and narrative/character involvement) to investigate how binge watching might alter traditional television processing. A survey of 248 participants explored the relationship between binge watching, serial watching (defined as watching a show when it airs each week), cultivation, and narrative involvement. Results indicate that participants binge watch more often than they watch serially, and that binge watching is associated with more character identification, parasocial interaction, and enjoyment than serial watching. Furthermore, when controlling for serial watching, binge watching is significantly correlated with character identification, parasocial interaction, enjoyment, and violence prevalence estimates (first-order cultivation effects). Even more interestingly, amount of binge watching was also a significant predictor of parasocial interaction and enjoyment when watching serially. These results demonstrate binge watching's popularity, but also indicate that binging on television shows can intensify some psychological effects of television exposure.

Le Han, Author
Toward a Global Chinese Identity in the Age of Social Media: Transnational Imagination in Weibo
This study examines how the joint forces of global flows of people and the mediated materials produce transnational imaginations in social media. It focuses on the interaction in a Chinese micro-blog site: Weibo. The imagination of global Chinese on Weibo, weaved together by a group of liberal-leaning users, contains three components-connection, comparison and compassion-that together compete with and challenge the nationalistic discourse promoted by the Party-state and popularized through media. Weibo connects Chinese-speaking users globally, producing alternative views and memories of news events. Global-local exchange of past and present events leads to cross-national comparison, producing "multiple others"-ideal images of civilized nations-for China. Weibo also features a collective retrospection that produces a ideal "global membership," highlighting empathy for remote sufferings, criticizing xenophobic behaviors and expressions toward others. All these strategies problematize official nationalism and promote a different version accordingly.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Co-Author
*Top Paper Award in Political Communication
Correcting Political Misinformation: Humor as a Vehicle to Increase Interest and Overcome Motivated Reasoning
The current paper presents the results of two 5 condition, between-subjects experiments designed to test the effectiveness of humor as a vehicle to increase audience interest and overcome motivated reasoning in the face of political factchecking information (Study 1 N = 226, Study 2 N = 223). Using as stimuli two separate humorous, video-based factchecking videos produced by during the 2012 election, we test not only the effectiveness of such content (versus original articles, and versus non-humorous factchecking videos) at reducing audience misperceptions, but also test the psychological mechanisms through which such effects occur, including audiences' message interest, counterarguing, and message discounting. Results suggest that humorous or clever factchecking videos can successfully reduce viewer misperceptions, although, not necessarily to a greater extent than a traditional text-based factchecking article. These effects appear to be, at least partially, attributable to the reduction in counterargumentation that accompanies the processing of humorous persuasive content.

Stella Lee, Author
Laura Gibson, Jiaying Liu, Robert Hornik, Co-Authors
An Experimental Test of a Message Topic Selection Approach: Testing the H&W Method
A message is composed of structural features and content. Although abundant research has theorized about persuasive message features and investigated its effects (e.g. frames, narratives), less attention has been paid to strategies for choosing promising message content (i.e. message topics). Moreover, most message topic selection strategies rely on cross-sectional data which hinder our ability to assess the causal effect of particular message topics on behavioral outcomes. Via an experiment, we aim to fill this gap by experimentally testing a message topic selection approach: the Hornik and Woolf method (hereafter, H&W). Specifically, we examined whether messages targeting promising beliefs as defined by the H&W criteria would be more persuasive than less promising beliefs. We randomly assigned and exposed 18-25 year-old never smokers and former smokers (N=2068) to one of seven conditions: four promising belief message conditions, two less-promising belief message conditions, and a no-exposure control condition. Regardless of message condition, anti-smoking intentions increased equally and more than in the control condition. Post hoc mediation analyses showed that the more promising belief messages affected intentions through specific targeted beliefs as expected; while the less promising belief messages also affected intentions through non-targeted promising beliefs. These results suggested that the H&W approach has utility in distinguishing promising and less promising message topics, but that future studies should be aware of correlations among beliefs and behavioral domains when selecting beliefs/topics to target.

Matthew O’Donnell, Christopher Cascio, Emily FalkCo-Authors
Facebook Network Structure and Brain Reactivity to Social Exclusion
We examined whether communication network structure predicts how adolescents react to a common social scenario: being excluded from social activities. Drawing on a sample of adolescent males who underwent fMRI brain imaging (n = 76) and contributed logged Facebook wall data, we find that the density of participants' networks of recent communication partners, but not the density of their full social network, predicts neural responses during social exclusion in a priori hypothesized "social pain" regions of the brain (dACC, AI, subACC). This finding suggests greater physiological reactivity for individuals who communicate with a more densely connected personal network. We discuss potential mechanisms and implications for how the structural features of networks guide social cognition during interpersonal interactions.

Victor Pickard, Author
*Top Four Competitive Paper Award in Mass Communication
The Strange Life and Death of the Fairness Doctrine and the Erosion of Positive Liberties in American Policy Discourse
The Fairness Doctrine, one of the most famous and controversial media policies ever enacted, suffered a final death-blow in August 2011 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) permanently struck it from the books. The doctrine continues to be invoked by proponents and detractors alike, suggesting that the policy's legacy will live on long past its official end at the hands of liberal policymakers who had hoped to quietly remove it from the nation's political discourse. The following paper attempts to demystify the Fairness Doctrine by historically contextualizing it while drawing attention to the ways in which it continues to be deployed. Tracing the shifting ideologies and discourses surrounding the Fairness Doctrine over time serves as an important case study of how political conflict shapes the normative foundations of core media policies, especially those involving positive freedoms.

Angeline (LeeAnn) Sangalang, Co-Author
Relational and Interactive Aspects of Parasocial Experiences: PSI/PSR Revisited
The study examines direct and interactive effects of parasocial interactions (PSI) and relationships (PSR) on persuasive outcomes. PSI and PSR are conceptualized as distinct, albeit related constructs. PSI involve the give-and-take within the media encounter, whereas PSR entail the relational bonding with the media figure that continues to exist outside the context of any particular media exposure. A 2 (high/low PSI) X 2 (high/low PSR) experiment reveals that PSI can enhance counterarguing and reactance when PSR is low. PSR may reduce counterarguing and reactance only when PSI are high. These findings offer implications for PSI and PSR theory and research.

Doron Taussig, Author
*Top Student Paper Award in Political Communication
The Presidential Life: Biographical Campaign Ads and the Mythical Guidelines for How Presidents Explain Themselves
I examine how presidential campaigns claim candidates became who they are by looking at biographical campaign ads through the lens of biographical reasoning. Biographical reasoning is the psychological process of connecting the experiences in one’s life to one’s identity, by treating those experiences as either cause or proof of characteristics. I analyze biographical presidential campaign ads from 1952-2012, examining the life experiences the ads highlight, the characteristics those experiences impute, and whether an experience can be understood as proof or cause of the characteristic. Patterns across the ads indicate three key themes in presidential biographical reasoning: 1) Candidates are shaped early, and change fairly little throughout their lives; 2) Candidates are shaped mostly by positive experiences – adversity is usually brought up to show what the candidate is made of; 3) Candidates receive very little help from external forces, earning almost everything they get in life through hard work and talent. Together these themes suggest an essentialist, individualist and exclusive vision of American leaders.

Qinghua (Candy) YangAuthor on the following two papers:

*Top Paper Award in Health Communication
Does Interactivity Help? A Meta-Analytic Review of Web-Based Interactive Health Interventions
Despite the increasing amount of research investigating health interventions that apply interactive computer technology, the effect sizes obtained across these studies range from -0.55 to 2.10. The lack of systematic review of interactive health interventions leaves the effectiveness of interactivity unknown. To better understand this application of new technology in health intervention, this research reports a meta-analysis of 23 studies examining the effects of web-based interactive health interventions. The results indicate that web-based interactive health interventions are effective in general, but the effects are moderated by health topic, design of control group, intervention frequency, outcome variables, length of interventions and demographic variables. Theoretical and practice implications of findings are discussed.

To Believe in Physician or to Believe in Peer: A Meta-Analytic Review of Health Information Credibility
Despite the large corpus of literature on health information credibility, inconsistent findings reporting different effect sizes for the relationships between expertise and credibility, and between trustworthiness and credibility indicate the uncertainty about the relationship. This meta-analytic study aims to (a) provide an estimate of the magnitude of the relationship between manipulated expertise and trustworthiness in predicting health information credibility, and (b) search for potential moderators of the relationship. Comprehensive searches of the Communication & Mass Media Complete, PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Knowledge, and Medline databases were used to identify for potential eligible studies. Results indicated that whether researchers manipulated expertise or trustworthiness is a significant moderator of the effect of health message on perceived credibility. In addition, expertise was found to correlate with health information credibility at a higher level than perceived trustworthiness. This finding and the moderator analyses provide guidance for future research and practice in health education.

Qinghua (Candy) Yang is also a Co-Author on the following six papers:

Wall or Bridge? Chinese Internet Users’ Bypassing Online Censorship, Uses and Gratifications, and Social Outcomes
Internet Censorship bypassing refers to the behaviors of Web users who resort to any software, applications, or proxy to gain access to the online resources being blocked by Internet censorship due to various reasons. Under the theoretical framework of Uses & Gratification and acculturation, a web-based survey (N = 302) was conducted to explore Chinese Internet users' motivations of bypassing online censorship. The findings showed that motivations for entertainment seeking, information seeking, socialization, and self-status were significantly related to Chinese Web users' bypassing behavior, which was positively associated with their level of civic participation and negatively associated with their orientation toward the Chinese culture. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.

Crisis Communicator and Health Informer: A Content Analysis of the CDC’s Messages in the 2014 Ebola Epidemic
Based on the situational crisis communication theory (SCCT) and the extended parallel process model (EPPM), this study examines how the CDC responded to the 2014 Ebola epidemic and communicated Ebola health messages to the public. A content analysis of the CDC's Ebola messages on both traditional media and Twitter is conducted. Three time phases are set to differentiate domestic Ebola case progress. Preliminary data analysis with 282 messages showed that the CDC's adoption of crisis response strategies differed by time and media. In addition, the organization's presentation of threat messages related to Ebola also differed by time and media.

Modeling the Relationship between Norms and Outcome Expectations in Predicting Indoor Tanning Intentions: A Test of the Theory of Normative Social Behavior
Indoor tanning bed use is highly influenced by perceived norms about a tanned appearance. The theory of normative social behavior (TNSB) details the many ways in which norms can impact intentions and behavior, but has never been assessed in the context of indoor tanning. Considering this, we conducted a survey among female university students (N = 274) to determine the extent to which the TNSB predicted intentions to use indoor tanning beds. Overall, the path model predicted about 46% of the variance in intentions, and the majority of significant indirect effects were witnessed through the outcome expectation variables included in the TNSB, suggesting that these may be the most salient mechanisms – as predicted by the TNSB – through which norms can impact tanning intentions. In light of these results, specific recommendations are given to extend the predictive utility of the TNSB in the context of indoor tanning.

How Patient-Provider Communication Influences Quitting Intention among Smokers: A Study Using the 2013 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)
We proposed a conceptual model to explain smokers' quitting intentions based on theories from cognitive perspectives and theories that recognize the impact of affect. The model was tested by participants of the 2013 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS 4) who identified themselves as current smokers (N = 481). A structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis was conducted, and the model was found to have a good fit with the data. Findings suggest that intention to quit smoking is positively predicted by benefit perception but not by risk perception and worry; cancer worry has a positive influence on both risk perception and benefit perception; patient-provider communication (PPC) positively predicts intention to quit and cancer worry, but not perceived risks nor perceived benefits; only the indirect path from PPC to quitting intention through worry and then through benefit perception is significant. Theoretical and practical implications of findings are discussed.

Exploring Environmental Health on Weibo: A Textual Analysis of Framing Haze-related Stories on Chinese Social Media
According to the latest report by World Health Organization, air pollution, one of the planet's most dangerous environmental carcinogens, has become one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths (WHO, 2014). In China, this is a particularly crucial issue, with more than 100 cities and close to one billion individuals threatened by haze due to heavy air pollution over the past 12 months (Kan, Chen, & Hong, 2009). Beyond traditional channels, the rise of social media has led to greater online haze-related information sharing. Formative research suggests that Weibo is playing a larger role in the process of information seeking than traditional media. Given the severity of haze and the influential role of Weibo, a textual analysis was conducted based on Sina Weibo to provide health decision-makers and media consumers the knowledge on how environmental health issues such as haze are framed in Chinese social media. Framing theory served to explain the differences across various outlets: People's Daily, China Daily, and Chinese version Wall Street Journal. By analyzing 407 Weibo posts, 5 majors frames emerged: (1) Governmental concern, (2) Public opinion and issue management, (3) Contributing factors and effects, (4) Socializing haze-related news, and (5), External haze-related.

Reducing, Maintaining, or Escalating Uncertainty? The Development and Validation of Four Uncertainty Preference Scales Related to Cancer Information Seeking and Avoidance
Uncertainty is a central characteristic of many aspects of cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Brashers (2001) uncertainty management theory details the multifaceted nature of uncertainty and describes situations in which uncertainty can both positively and negatively affect health outcomes. The current study extends theory on uncertainty management by developing four scale measures of uncertainty management preferences in the context of cancer. Two national surveys were conducted to validate the scales and assess convergent, divergent, and concurrent validity. Results support the factor structure of each measure and provide general support across multiple validity assessments. These scales can advance research on uncertainty and cancer communication by providing researchers with measures that address multiple dimensions of uncertainty.

Panelists and Respondents

Peter Decherney
Presenter at NCA Legislative Assembly I, NCA Legislative Assembly II, Meet the NCA Journal Editors, NCA Journal Editors’ Workshop

Kathleen Hall Jamieson
Presenter at “The ‘Senses of Rhetoric:’ Honoring Thomas W. Benson’s Contributions to the Study of Rhetorical Theory, Rhetorical Cricitism, and Public Address” and “A Tribute to Dr. Jane Blankenship.”

Victor Pickard
Respondent at “World of Workcraft: Digital Labor in the Age of Social Media.”

Barbie Zelizer
Respondent at “New Voices in Critical and Cultural Studies (Top Student Papers)”