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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG)

The KEG research group is dedicated to conducting empirical research and building theory in the area of cognitive media effects, with a particular focus on framing effects. Building on previous cognitive models, this group has developed its own model of cognitive effects (i.e., the Judged Usability Model) and its own approach to conceptualizing media frames (i.e., The Semantic Architecture Model). Together these models organize the chaotic nature of framing theory and effects research, providing a fruitful pathway for future empirical research. Participation in the KEG research group requires an interest and experience in conducting framing effects research. Faculty Leader: Doug McLeod

RECENT NEWS AND POSTS

New article from KEG “Exploring Numerical Framing Effects: The Interaction Effects of Gain/Loss Frames and Numerical Presentation Formats on Message Comprehension, Emotion, and Perceived Issue Seriousness”

New article “Exploring Numerical Framing Effects: The Interaction Effects of Gain/Loss Frames and Numerical Presentation Formats on Message Comprehension, Emotion, and Perceived Issue Seriousness” in the journal Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: Statistical information permeates media messages, but little is known about how the use of different presentation formats influences message processing. Thus, we explore numerical framing effects by examining how presentation formats interact with gain/loss frames to alter message processing and issue perceptions. We found that logically equivalent information embedded in gain/loss frames generated different levels of comprehension when it was presented … Continue reading

New article from KEG “The Effects of Framing and Advocacy Expectancy on Belief Importance and Issue Attitude”

New article “The Effects of Framing and Advocacy Expectancy on Belief Importance and Issue Attitude” in the journal Mass Communication and Society from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: Message frames have been found to influence relevant issue attitudes by influencing the weight of issue considerations emphasized in the message. As such message frames often originate from advocacy interest groups, this study investigates differences in the framing effects of advocacy groups, depending on whether the message fits readers’ expectations for the communicators’ issue position (expected advocacy) or not (unexpected advocacy). Across two issue topics, findings suggest that unexpected advocacy significantly … Continue reading

KEG publishes new article “Reconceptualizing cognitive media effects theory and research under the judged usability model”

New article “Reconceptualizing cognitive media effects theory and research under the judged usability model” in the journal Review of Communication Research from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: This review synthesizes the existing literature on cognitive media effects, including agenda setting, framing, and priming, in order to identify their similarities, differences, and inherent commonalities. Based on this review, we argue that the theory and research on each of these cognitive effects share a common view that media affect audience members by influencing the relative importance of considerations used to make subsequent judgments (including their answers to post-exposure survey questions). In reviewing this … Continue reading

New publication “Beyond the Notion of Accessibility Bias: Message Content as the Common Source of Agenda-Setting and Priming Effects” from KEG

New article “Beyond the Notion of Accessibility Bias: Message Content as the Common Source of Agenda-Setting and Priming Effects” in the journal Mass Communication and Society from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: This study examines the cognitive mechanisms behind agenda-setting and priming effects. Recent evidence suggests that accessibility effects within network models of memory are not well suited to explain agenda-setting and priming effects. This article attempts to provide additional evidence regarding the roles of issue accessibility and message content in agenda-setting and priming processes. Our findings indicate that changes in issue accessibility are not a sufficient condition for … Continue reading

KEG publishes “Counter-Framing Effects of User Comments”

New article “Counter-Framing Effects of User Comments” in the International Journal of Communication from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: Past research shows that news frames shape audience reactions to news messages. As individuals receive more of their news online, where many news messages are accompanied by opportunities for audience members to comment, it has become important to investigate how such comments influence message framing effects, especially when they compete with the original news article. Therefore, this study examines the framing effects of user comments opposing a news editorial by directly challenging the editorial or featuring an alternative perspective to … Continue reading

New article from KEG “Pathways to news commenting and the removal of the comment system on news websites”

New article “Pathways to news commenting and the removal of the comment system on news websites” in the journal Journalism from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: Many major news websites have recently opted to remove comment sections that appear beneath their online news articles. However, researchers know very little about how news audiences feel about the silencing of this interactive feature. Our study analyzes data from adult Internet users in the United States in an online survey to provide empirical evidence regarding motivations underlying different engagement in news comment systems and attitudes of news readers toward comment system … Continue reading

KEG publishes “Effects of Frame Repetition Through Cues in the Online Environment”

New article “Effects of Frame Repetition Through Cues in the Online Environment” in the journal Mass Communication and Society from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: Research has shown that message frames can shape a reader’s subsequent judgments on political issues. In the online news environment, additional cues outside the story may be present that can affect the power of the frame. This online experiment investigates the role of repetitive cues in the framing processes using news editorials and their accompanying recommended headlines that repeat the editorial’s frame. Results suggest that regarding issue-related attitudes and emotions, consistent frame repetition … Continue reading

KEG publishes “Framing Risk with Numbers: The Framing Effects of Risk Assertions and Number Formats on Emotions and Risk Perceptions”

New article “Framing Risk with Numbers: The Framing Effects of Risk Assertions and Number Formats on Emotions and Risk Perceptions” in the journal Mass Communication and Society from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: This study examines how risk assertions and relevant statistics presented in different number formats interact to influence emotional and cognitive outcomes. Experimental news stories present risk assertions that highlight either safety from or vulnerability to violent crime; these assertions are accompanied by crime statistics in absolute frequency, simple fraction, or percentage format. Although it may be tempting to assume that national statistics in absolute frequency … Continue reading

New KEG publication “Pathways to News Sharing: Issue Frame Perceptions and the Likelihood of Sharing”

New article “Pathways to News Sharing: Issue Frame Perceptions and the Likelihood of Sharing” in the journal Computers in Human Behavior from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: Online news sharing has become an important process through which contemporary citizens experience news. Sharing is not only a behavioral outcome of news consumption but also an essential form of political engagement that reshapes the online information environment. This study offers empirical evidence regarding important article perceptions that drive online news sharing. Specifically, we examine how issue frame perceptions shape user-directed dissemination of news information. Using an online survey that exposes … Continue reading

New article from KEG “Framing Obesity: Effects of Obesity Labeling and Prevalence Statistics on Public Perceptions”

New article “Framing Obesity: Effects of Obesity Labeling and Prevalence Statistics on Public Perceptions” in the journal Health Education and Behavior from the Cognitive Effects Research Group (KEG). Abstract: The rising prevalence rate of obesity in the United States has accentuated concerns about obesity-related problems as a major public health issue, which has motivated widespread efforts to increase public knowledge and to motivate individuals to change their relevant behaviors. Although health campaign messages commonly include information about prevalence rates for obesity, the impact of obesity labeling and prevalence rate descriptions in such messages has been overlooked by researchers. This online … Continue reading

MCRC Team Conducts Online Experiments About Message Accuracy

The MCRC 2017-2018 research team has developed two parallel online experiments examining citizen information processing and judgments about message accuracy. Project 1 compares the priming effects of different ways of presenting fact-checking articles. It examines the perceived value and perceived influence of fact-checking, as well knowledge accuracy regarding e-cigarettes. Project 2 examines priming effects of digital literacy materials on audiences’ motivation and capability to detect fake Twitter accounts. Moreover, it investigates the effect of pre-existing values and political orientations on judgments about information veracity.

MCRC Research 2016-2017

MCRC’s 2016-2017 project conducted a national survey of American citizens on the eve of 2016 presidential election. Data were collected on citizens’ political ideology, values, and worldviews, issue positions, and voting behaviors. A series of cluster analysis identified voter types based on a host of enduring values and worldviews. Results revealed interesting patterns of association between and among partisan and independent voters. Interestingly, the clusters grouped together voters across traditional party and ideological boundaries, indicating that even in this era of political polarization, American citizens have more in common than we might think. Results from this study have been presented … Continue reading