Populations and organizations around the globe are facing fundamental challenges to human health and welfare, such as basic health concerns, environmental degradation, social injustice and terrorism. 

Research in this area examines communication effects and psychological processes. It explores the study of relationships between communication (both interpersonal and mediated), emotion, cognition, and persuasion; how media influences knowledge, attitudes, opinions, and behaviors; how communication can address intergroup conflict; and how the media can influence perceptions of risk, particularly in the arenas of health and science communication. 

Recent research by our faculty has addressed:

  • Advertising effects
  • Persuasion-based mediated campaigns
  • The effects of media on children
  • The effects and perceptions of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical ads
  • Cognitive processes related to conflict
  • Health communication
  • Science communication
  • The role of emergent media in shaping attitudes, opinions and behaviors
  • Psychological and physiological processing of media presentations and experiences
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Conflict management and resolution

Communication effects and psychological processes news:

January 2021: Dr. Edward L. Fink and colleagues publish “Does whom patients sit next to during hemodialysis affect whether they request a living donation?” in Kidney 360.

January 2021: Dr. Edward L. Fink, Dr. Deborah A. Cai, and colleagues publish “How Americans make sense of two novel pandemics” in Health Communication.

December 2020: Dr. Edward L. Fink and colleagues publishes “Does sex, race, and the size of a kidney transplant candidate’s social network affect the number of living donor requests? A multi-center social network analysis of patients on the kidney transplant waitlist” in Transplantation.November 2020: M&C doctoral student Yuanxin Wang successful defends her dissertation “The role of perceived social injustice in cyberbullying.”

November 2020: M&C doctoral student Chen Zeng successful defends her dissertation “Group identity versus relational identity: The influence of identity primes on socio-political attitudes.”

October 2020: Dr. Meghnaa Tallapragada and colleagues publish “Improving GM consensus acceptance through reduced reactance and climate change-based message targeting” in the journal Environmental Communication.

October 2020: Dr. Meghnaa Tallapragada and colleagues publish “Veterans' transition out of the military and knowledge of mental health disorders” in the Journal of Veteran Studies.

September 2020: Drs. Meghnaa Tallapragada, Bruce Hardy, and colleagues publish “Impact of abstract versus concrete conceptualization of genetic modification (GM) technology on public perceptions” in the journal Risk Analysis.

September 2020: Dr. Meghnaa Tallapragada and colleagues publish “Media narratives about concussions: Effects on parents’ intention to inform their children about concussions” in the journal Communication & Sport.

September 2020: Drs. Edward L. Fink and Deborah A. Cai publish “Multidimensional scaling” in the International encyclopedia of media psychology.

September 2020: Dr. Edward L. Fink co-authors “Proattitudinal versus counterattitudinal messages: Message discrepancy, reactance, and the boomerang effect” in Communication Monographs.

June 2020: Dr. Edward L. Fink and colleagues publish “Precise persuasion: Investigating incentive appeals for the promotion of antibiotic stewardship with message-induced transitions” in the Journal of Health Communication.

June 2020: M&C doctoral student Hocheol Yang successfully defended his dissertation "Virtual Reality and Higher Education: Presence and Motivation to Learn Via Immersive Media Experiences."

June 2020: Dr. Lance Holbert named a Fellow by the International Communication Association

April 2020: M&C doctoral student Luling Huang successfully defended his dissertation "The Role of Psychological Discrepancy in Belief Change: Testing Four Models with a Single Message."

4/15/19: Dr. Heather LaMarre co-authors article “Satirical narrative processing: Examining the roles of character liking and media enjoyment on narrative-consistent attitudes” in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research.

2/1/19: Dr. Bruce Hardy and co-authors publish article “The effects of the ‘war on science’ frame on scientists’ credibility” in Science Communication

12/1/18: Dr. Jennifer Gerard Ball publishes article “Caring or compulsion? The effects of consumer attributions of risk information disclosure in direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising” in The Journal of Consumer Affairs

11/27/18: Doctoral student Linda Greenwood successfully defends dissertation “Stimulating Interest in Political Information and Facilitating Deep Comprehension of a Political Text for Young Voters: Does Embodiment Matter?” 

8/15/18: Dr. Bruce Hardy and Dr. Jessica Castonguay publish article “The moderating role of age in the relationship between social media use and mental well-being: An analysis of the 2016 General Social Survey” in Computers in Human Behavior


Jennifer Ball, Deborah A. Cai, Jessica Castonguay, Edward L. Fink, Bruce W. Hardy, R. Lance Holbert, Tricia S. Jones, Heather LaMarre, Matthew LombardMeghnaa Tallapragada

Typical courses offered:

  • Communication and social influence
  • Political communication
  • Communication institutions
  • Psychological processes and media effects
  • Social media scraping and computational textual analysis
  • Public information media campaigns
  • Statistics II 
  • Survey design
  • Experimental design
  • Content analysis