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Research Strengths

The expertise and research agendas of our faculty feature distinctive Research Strengths in the areas of Social Scientific Analysis of Mass Media Effects and in Media, Culture, and Society.

Faculty Research Strengths


Social Scientific Analysis of Mass Media Effects

Researchers in the Social Scientific Analysis of Mass Media Effects area develop quantitative models to explain mass media effects. They employ a variety of social-science research methodologies (experiments, focus groups, content analyses, surveys, correlational studies, and longitudinal studies) to collect empirical data and then apply state-of-the-art sophisticated statistical techniques (including meta-analyses, structural equation modeling, and hierarchical liner modeling) to test theories with the data. There are three areas of specialization in this area and they are detailed below.

Media Psychology

  • Media Psychology: blends theory and research in Communication Studies and social, cognitive, and developmental psychology to understand how the mass media affect individuals’ thinking, emotions, and behaviors and how, in turn, these shape the experiences individuals have with the mass media and emerging media. Areas of study include: media use, media and social behavior, media and identity; persuasive communication and attitude change; media and stereotyping; and media, education, and learning.
    • Sub-specializations in Media Psychology

      • Health and the Media: research in this area analyzes the role of the media in promoting or undermining healthy behaviors and attitudes, and which kinds of health messages and campaigns are most persuasive and effective. Faculty: P. Sol Hart, Sonya Dal Cin, Kristen Harrison
      • Media Violence and Aggressive Behavior: studies both the short-term and long terms effects of exposure to violent media fare in films, on television and in video games and other new media. L. Rowell Huesmann
      • Children, Adolescents and the Media: analyzes media effects on children and the extent to which the media promote or undermine children's health and well-being. Faculty: Sonya Dal Cin, Kristen Harrison
      • Media and the Environment: examines how the media represent environmental problems and challenges, and the effects of those representations on public attitudes. Faculty: P. Sol Hart


Political Communication

  • Political Communication: examines how a variety of media, from the news and political advertising to public opinion polls to new and emerging media, help establish peoples' political identities, attitudes and behaviors. This work includes the study of the news media, electoral politics, the role of emotions in political behavior, the rising importance of mobile communications and other new media to political behavior, and the relationship between ongoing political identity formation, public attitudes toward a range of public policies and voter behavior.
    • Sub-specializations Political Communication

      • The News Media: research on the news media analyzes how the news frames current affairs and public figures, its role in agenda setting, and its role in priming a variety of attitudes and behaviors. Faculty: P. Sol Hart, Nojin Kwak, Josh Pasek, Mike Traugott
      • Public Opinion: research in this area examines the interplay between the mass media, especially the news media, public affairs programming and political advertising, and the formation of and changes in public opinion. Faculty: Mike Traugott

New and Emerging Media

  • New and Emerging Media: analyzes peoples' interactions with each other through mobile communications, email, the Web, and other emerging media, and considers the relationship between social networks, social capital, political behavior, and new media.
    • Sub-specializations in New and Emerging Media

      • Influence of New Media on Behavior: studies in this area examine how individuals’ and societies’ behaviors are altered by the introduction of new media and how people adapt to the changing environment new media provide. Faculty: Scott Campbell, Nojin Kwak, Josh Pasek, Christian Sandvig
      • Policy Issues in New Media: research in this area analyzes how the distribution, use, and impact of new media have been and are affected by government policies and economic issues. Faculty: Russell Neuman, Christian Sandvig

Media, Culture and Society

Researchers in this area use a variety of empirically-based humanities approaches to analyze media content, industry practices, media regulation, global flows of media and information, and the impact of the media and communication technologies on culture and society.  Faculty draw from a ranger of theoretical perspectives and our research methods include textual analysis, ethnography and in-depth interviewing, focus groups, archival research, and analysis of industry records and the trade press, and the study of government documents.

Analyzing Media Texts

Analyzing Media Texts: studies the values, attitudes and behavioral norms embedded in media texts such as television programs, the news, films, magazines, radio and news and emerging media.

Sub-specializations include:

    • Gender and the Media: which examines the persistence of sex-role stereotypes in the media and their influence on the self-esteem of girls and women, as well as the role the media play in shaping models of masculinity for boys and young men. Faculty: Susan Douglas, Amanda Lotz
    • Race, Ethnicity, and the Media: which explores how people of color and ethnic minorities are represented in the news and in entertainment programming, as well as in the print media and the Web. This research studies the extent to which the media perpetuate or challenge existing racial stereotypes, and the effects of racial representations on attitudes and behaviors. Faculty: Andre Brock, Robin Means Coleman, Shazia Iftkhar

Media Policy and Regulation

Media Policy and Regulation analyzes the history and impact of government policy, including regulation and deregulation, on communication systems. Research looks at how regulation and policy affect the form and content of the media and their messages. Faculty: Russell Neuman, Christian Sandvig, Muzammil Hussain

Media Industries

Media Industries focuses on the internal workings, practices and structures of various media industries such as television, radio and new media, and how industry imperatives, goals and assumptions shape what we see and hear. Faculty: Amanda Lotz, Russell Neuman, Aswin Punathambekar.

International and Comparative Media

International and Comparative Media studies the global flows of news, information and entertainment, comparative development and practices of media systems in different countries, and the rise and significance of international media production centers such as Bollywood. Faculty: Muzammil Hussain, Shazia Iftkhar, Aswin Punathambekar, Paddy Scannell, Julia Sonnevend, Derek Vaillant.


Historical Approaches to Media and Technology

Historical Approaches to Media and Technology studies the origins and evolution of communications technologies, how they have been socially constructed, and their impact on society, culture and everyday life. Faculty: Megan Ankerson, Scott Campbell, Susan Douglas, Paddy Scannell, Derek Vaillant