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News & Publications

CBB Article One of the Most Downloaded of 2020

An article co-authored by Communication, Brain and Behavior (CBB) Lab faculty leader Chris Cascio in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience was one of the journal’s most downloaded of 2020. Continue reading

MCRC Faculty Leaders Win 2020 Fall Research Competition Grant

MCRC Faculty Leaders Chris Cascio, Communication, Brain and Behavior (CBB) Lab Faculty Leader, and Sijia Yang, Computational Approaches and Message Effects Research (CAMER) Group Faculty Leader, are co-PIs on a new project, “Developing and Testing the Impacts of Cannabis Prevention Messages for At-Risk Young Adults”. They have received funding for their proposal submitted to the 2020 Fall Research Competition. Abstract: The proliferation of legalizing recreational use of cannabis products, combined with shifted public perceptions and youth-appealing marketing has put young adults at high risk for cannabis use initiation and progression into disorder. Despite that early onset of regular cannabis use is … Continue reading

HITS publishes “Online health information seeking, medical care beliefs and timeliness of medical check-ups among African Americans” in journal Patient Education and Counseling

In the new article “Online health information seeking, medical care beliefs and timeliness of medical check-ups among African Americans” in the journal Patient Education and Counseling, the Health Information and Technology Studies (HITS) group found links between technology use and positive health behaviors among African Americans. Continue reading

New publication advances research framework for digital health intervention

A new journal article from the Health Information Technology Studies (HITS) team, led by “Estelle” Ranran Mi, was published in Health Communication. The paper, “Intraindividual, Dyadic, and Network Communication in a Digital Health Intervention: Distinguishing Message Exposure from Message Production,” revealed nuanced intervention effects of a smartphone-based application for addiction recovery by examining message exposure and production at different levels of communication. Continue reading

SMAD team publishes “Covering #MeToo across the News Spectrum: Political Accusation and Public Events as Drivers of Press Attention”

Furthering their research on the #MeToo movement, the Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) team has published “Covering #MeToo across the News Spectrum: Political Accusation and Public Events as Drivers of Press Attention” in The International Journal of Press/Politics. Continue reading

New article from HITS group “Framing the Clinical Encounter: Shared Decision-Making, Mammography Screening, and Decision Satisfaction”

The Health Information Technology Studies (HITS) group has a new article out in the Journal of Health Communication. The article, “Framing the Clinical Encounter: Shared Decision-Making, Mammography Screening, and Decision Satisfaction” was published in October 2020. Continue reading

New Fact-Checking Projects Focus on Combating COVID-19 Misinformation

With information about COVID-19 rapidly circulating online, it can be difficult to determine what’s true and what’s not. Social media has made it even easier for misinformation and disinformation to spread unchecked. Knowing whether a claim or a source is reputable can be daunting, even for the savviest media consumers. As the UW-Madison community of students, faculty and staff begin to plan their return to campus, having a verified and reliable source for information will be crucial to maintaining everyone’s health and safety. One such source is the COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect app. Developed by a collaboration of campus groups, COVID-19 … Continue reading

The Wisconsin Idea in Action: MCRC Group Collaborates on COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect App

The University of Wisconsin has a long tradition of quality education, strong community and dedicated service. These principles are all key to the Wisconsin Idea: that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom. At the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication, our faculty and students consistently and creatively exemplify the Wisconsin Idea in their classes, research, projects and more. Through collaboration within the department and with others throughout the University, SJMC is committed to having a positive impact in our community. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of more than 30 faculty, staff … Continue reading

SMAD publishes “Performing populism: Trump’s transgressive debate style and the dynamics of Twitter response” in New Media & Society

The Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) group has a new article published in New Media & Society. The article, “Performing populism: Trump’s transgressive debate style and the dynamics of Twitter response” was published in April 2020. Continue reading

SMAD group publishes “Trump, Twitter, and news media responsiveness: A media systems approach”

The Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) group has published a new article in the journal New Media and Society, titled “Trump, Twitter, and news media responsiveness: A media systems approach”. Continue reading

CCCR publishes new article, “Do Improving Conditions Harden Partisan Preferences? Lived Experiences, Imagined Communities, and Polarized Evaluations”

The Center for Communication and Civic Renewal (CCCR) has a new article published in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research titled “Do Improving Conditions Harden Partisan Preferences? Lived Experiences, Imagined Communities, and Polarized Evaluations”. The article was published in January 2020. Continue reading

New publication: Giving and receiving social support in online substance use disorder forums: How self-efficacy moderates effects on relapse

The Health Information Technology Studies (HITS) group has published the article “Giving and receiving social support in online substance use disorder forums: How self-efficacy moderates effects on relapse” in the journal Patient Education and Counseling. Continue reading

Room 5013 Vilas Hall rededicated as Jack McLeod Seminar Room

Jack McLeod, Maier-Bascom Professor Emeritus and longtime director of the Mass Communication Research Center, was honored with the rededication of Room 5013 of Vilas Hall as the Jack M. McLeod Roundtable Seminar Room. Professor McLeod has been a mentor to many luminaries and leaders in communication research and education, while at the same time making fundamental contributions to political communication, public opinion, media psychology, and mass communication research, and, of course, research methods. McLeod has a 38-year career in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, after joining the UW faculty in 1962. He shaped the School of Journalism and … Continue reading

Rojas Publishes in Nature Human Behaviour on “Taming the Digital Information Tide”

Sebastián Valenzuela, Associate Professor in the School of Communications, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and Hernando Rojas, Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison published their commentary piece, “Taming the Digital Information Tide to Promote Equality,” in the August 2019 issue of Nature Human Behaviour.  They argue that Interactive technologies are changing the ways we learn facts, develop attitudes and participate in politics, with the ensuing risk of increasing pre-existing inequalities. Addressing this challenge is the duty of researchers, technology companies, governments, and news organizations. They write, “political stratification is … Continue reading

SMAD Team Published on #MeToo Movement in Social Science Computer Review

Researchers in the Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) group published their paper, “#MeToo, Networked Acknowledgment, and Connective Action: How Empowerment Through Empathy Launched a Social Movement,” in Social Science Computer Review. The study, led by doctoral candidate Jiyoun Suk, focuses on how sharing #MeToo experiences on Twitter created “a network of acknowledgment” that drove “calls for action” across a range of spaces. Employing natural language processing and network analysis, the SMAD team analyzed 5-months of Twitter posts following the Weinstein accusations. The research finds that the story sharing and affirmation of “networked acknowledgment” tweets waned over time but “activism” tweets … Continue reading

Knight Gives $1.0 Million for Center for Communication and Civic Renewal

Researchers in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been awarded a $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to establish the Center for Communication and Civic Renewal. Professors Lew Friedland, Dhavan Shah and Mike Wagner, along with collaborators in the Department of Political Science (Katherine Cramer), Department of Statistics (Karl Rohe), the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (William Sethares), and Boston University (Chris Wells) are co-principal investigators on the project. The research team seeks to understand the state of politics and communication in Wisconsin over the last … Continue reading

Shah and Curtin Win $3.4 Million NIH Grant to Support Opioid Recovery

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin—Madison have received a $3.42 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a mobile phone-based app to prevent opioid relapse among those trying to recover. The project builds on the prior work that Dhavan Shah, Louis A. & Mary E. Maier-Bascom Professor in UW-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and John Curtin, director of clinical training in Department of Psychology, have done detecting and predicting relapse. The broad goals of this project are to develop and deliver models to forecast the day-by-day probability of opioid and other drug use among people trying … Continue reading

Rojas publishes “A Call to Contextualize Public Opinion-Based Research in Political Communication”

Faculty Leader of the International Communication Research Group (ICRG) Hernando Rojas is the co-author on a new article, “A Call to Contextualize Public Opinion-Based Research in Political Communication” in the journal Poltical Communication, published in October 2019. Continue reading

New Publication: “Political tolerance of demobilizing armed actors: The case of FARC in Colombia”

Co-authored by International Communication Research Group (ICRG) Faculty Leader Hernando Rojas, the article “Political tolerance of demobilizing armed actors: The case of FARC in Colombia” was published in the journal Online First in September 2019. Continue reading

Populism Conference Website Launched with Presentation Videos

The website featuring the collection of presentations and reflections on communication and populism from our “Communication, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy” conference is now available (link to website).  In Spring 2018, the Civic Culture and Contention Politics Group, with support from the UW’s Center for European Studies, hosted an international symposium and workshop exploring how democracies across Europe and the Americas are responding to the rise of populism and its roots in communication. Speakers considered how growing polarization and fragmentation in the media ecology, as reflected in partisan media, broadcast content, political advertising and social media, has contributed to ideological and … Continue reading

SMAD Team Publishes “Whose Lives Matter?” in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

Researchers in the Social Media and Democracy (SMAD) group had their paper, “Whose Lives Matter? Mass Shootings and Social Media Discourses of Sympathy and Policy, 2012-2014,” published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, the highest ranked journal in the field of communications. The study, led by doctoral candidate Yini Zhang, focuses on the outpouring of sympathy in response to mass shootings and the subsequent contestation over gun policy on Twitter from 2012 to 2014 and relates these discourses to features of mass shooting events. The authors use two approaches to Twitter text analysis— hashtag grouping and machine learning—to triangulate an … Continue reading

CCCP Answers “What Makes Wisconsin Swing?”

What makes Wisconsin a Swing State, and what causes it to swing to the right or the left? Mike Wagner, Jiyoun Suk, and others working as part of the Civic Culture and Contentious Politics (CCCP) team distill research from 2012 to 2018 to understand how heterogeneous communication flows can open people to candidates from other parties, softening attitudes toward candidates from opposing parties and drive split ticket voting. First using data from several 2012 Marquette Law School Polls, these researchers found that the Wisconsinites who talked more with family and friends — which tend to be more politically homogeneous groups — also … Continue reading

CCCP Publishes Op-Ed on Public Support for Nonpartisan Redistricting

Members of the Civic Culture and Contentious Politics research team published an op-ed about how Wisconsinites of both parties want nonpartisan redistricting. As the piece notes, “Legislative redistricting is one of the most important — and most contentious — issues in Wisconsin. Voters and democratic theorists alike are uncomfortable with the idea that lawmakers can choose their own voters in increasingly precise ways.” Our research team asked 1,015 Wisconsinites who they thought should control redistricting in our state: the state Legislature or an independent, nonpartisan commission. Fifty-three percent of adults said they preferred the nonpartisan commission while only 13 percent favored the … Continue reading

Computational Methods Group Meetings, Spring 2019

Computational Methods will meet every week at 3:30 PM in Grainger Hall for its Spring 2019 courses (listed below). Date Topic Tools Teacher 1-Feb Text Analysis II – quanteda quanteda (R) Josephine 8-Feb CANCELLED (Flooding) 15-Feb Reporting Results – LaTeX LateX Chuan 22-Feb Intro to Python, Syntax and Data Structures pandas (Python) Zhongkai 1-Mar Unsupervised ML – LDA Topic Modeling topicmodels (R) Jiyoun 8-Mar Crossroads – No Meeting 15-Mar Unsupervised ML – Structural Topic Modeling stm (R) Chuan 22-Mar Spring Break – No Meeting 29-Mar No Meeting 5-Apr Network Analysis igraph, ggnet (R) Yini 12-Apr No Meeting 19-Apr SQL and/or BigQuery TBA 26-Apr Machine … Continue reading

SMAD Studies Trump’s Populist Debate Style and How it Shaped Twitter Response

A new study by Social Media and Democracy group researchers (link to submission) examines how Trump’s populist communication style, as manifest in his rhetorical and non-verbal approach to Presidential debates, drove reactions on social media. Using detailed verbal, tonal, and visual coding of the first U.S. presidential debate of 2016 between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to show how Trump’s transgressive style — i.e., violating normative boundaries, particularly those related to protocol and politeness, and openly displaying anger — can be operationalized from a communication standpoint and related to the “real-time” Twitter responses during the debate.  Our findings support the … Continue reading

CCCP Wins Additional $272K in Grants from Hewlett, Thompson, and Journal

The Civic Culture and Contentious Politics (CCCP) was awarded a total of $272,000 in additional grants for their research on “Communication Ecologies, Political Contention, and the Crisis of Democracy” from the Hewlett Foundation, Journal Foundation, and the Thompson Center.  This is in addition to the $411,300 the team received from the UW2020 competition.  The additional grants will allow the research group to extend its work into the 2020 presidential election cycle.  Specifically, they will continue examining how polarization and fragmentation in the Wisconsin media ecology, as reflected in talk radio, local news, political advertising, and social media, contributed to the ideological … Continue reading

HITS Team Publishes on Health Disparities

Two journal articles from the HITS (Health Information Technology Studies) team, one published in Health Communication and the other in Health Education Research, tackle the role of information technologies in health disparities. The Health Communication paper led by Juwon Hwang, “Health Information Sources, Perceived Vaccination Benefits, and Maintenance of Childhood Vaccination Schedules,” investigates the associations between evaluations of health information sources, parental perceptions of childhood vaccination benefits, and the maintenance of vaccination schedules for their children. Analyzing a sample of 4,174 parents who have at least one child under the age of 18, including 138 with a childhood autism diagnosis. The … Continue reading

Cramer and Toff Win Major Awards

Katherine Cramer, MCRC Senior Fellow, and Benjamin Toff, former SMAD member, received the Heinz Eulau Award for the best article published in Perspectives on Politics in 2017 for “The Fact of Experience: Rethinking Political Knowledge and Civic Competence” (Perspectives on Politics 15(3): 754-770). The piece asserts that the emphasis on facts is misplaced in the study of political knowledge. Drawing upon three different projects involving observation of political talk and elite interviews, they observe that citizens and elites process political information through the lens of their personal experience. They propose an Expanded Model of Civic Competence that presents an alternative interpretation for what it means to be an … Continue reading

HITS Team Publishes Computational Solutions to Addiction Crisis

Two new studies published by HITS (Health Information Technologies Studies) researchers, both led by Rachel Kornfield, offer computational health communication solutions to substance abuse. The most recent study (available through Journal of Medical Internet Research) was based on an analysis of a mobile phone-based health intervention for individuals in recovery from alcohol use disorder. Human coders labeled discussion forum messages according to whether or not authors mentioned problems in their recovery process. Linguistic features of these messages were extracted via several computational techniques: (1) a Bag-of-Words approach, (2) the dictionary-based Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count program, and (3) a hybrid approach combining … Continue reading

SMAD Russian Propaganda Research Wins Awards

The manuscript, “Zero Day Twitter: How Russians Propaganda Infiltrated the U.S. Hybrid Media System” received two awards at the 2018 Association in Education and Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference this August. The paper won the top paper award for the Political Communication Interest Group and was the third-place recipient of the entire conference’s inaugural Professional Relevance award. The authors of the paper consist predominantly of graduate students in affiliation with the Social Media and Democracy and Computational Methods research groups. They are: Josephine Lukito, Jiyoun Suk, Yini Zhang, Larisa Doroshenko, Sang Jung Kim, Min-Hsin Su, YIping Xia, Deen Freelon, … Continue reading

UW “Contentious Politics” Group Lands $411K Grant to Study Communication and Democratic Crises in Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication scholars were rewarded in April for their cutting-edge research examining how the growing polarization and fragmentation in the Wisconsin media ecology, as reflected in talk radio, local news, political advertising and social media, contributed to the ideological and partisan polarization of Wisconsin citizens. UW SJMC professors Lew Friedland, Dhavan Shah, Mike Wagner, and Chris Wells are collaborating with Kathy Cramer in political science, Karl Rohe in statistics and Bill Sethares in electrical and computer engineering on the $411,000 project. The team was funded by the UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative competition for … Continue reading

The Twitter Exploit: How Russian Propaganda Infiltrated U.S. News

Click here to download the publication from the Computational Methods Group “The Twitter Exploit: How Russian Propaganda Infiltrated U.S. News”

SPEC/CIRCLE Research on Echo Chambers Presented at ICA

SPEC members Dhavan Shah, Jiyoun Suk, and Doug McLeod presented their work on how echo chambers on both the right and the left erode civic bonds at the 2018 International Communication Association meeting in Prague, May 24-28. They link this erosion of trust in institutions and groups to the rise of political polarization in American society, the proliferation of partisan media, and the emergence of digital media platforms that facilitate selectively curated news flows. The study employed a national panel study of millennials collected by CIRCLE at Tuft University in partnership with SPEC to explore the extent to which citizens who … Continue reading

New Research on News Exposure, Second Screening from ICRG

On perception of income inequality, shows a negative relationship with news exposure in Colombia, but also a positive link between entertainment content and citizens’ understanding of income gaps. Moreover, findings suggest that more realistic perceptions of inequality, shaped by media exposure, are positively associated with redistributive policies and participation behaviors. Link.   On second screening, provides evidence of persistent digital divides in terms of ICT access, ICT use, and second screening for news. This study examines how socioeconomic status (SES) relates to the adoption of second screening practices and explores the consequences of divides for democratic engagement. Link.

PACE Lab uncovers roots of hostile media perception

The Physiology and Communication Effects (PACE) Lab’s 2017 data collection examining the psychophysiological roots of thehostile media perception will be presented at the International Communication Association conference in Prague in May, 2018. “The Affective and Physiological Underpinning of Hostile Media Perception: Perceptions of Media Accuracy and Influence” reports the result of an experiment in which 106 participants viewed a media statement from a fictional member of Congress that varied, by experimental condition, the extremity of language used by the congressperson. Results indicate that even when controlling for self-reported emotions, the hostile media perception can be explained, in part, by the physiological … Continue reading

VGRG Publishes in Entertainment Computing

Karyn Riddle, Zhen Di, Sunghak Kim, Eunyoung Myung, Swee Kiat Tay, and Fangxin Xu published their study, “The unexpected comfort of wearing headphones: Emotional and cognitive effects of headphone use when playing a bloody video game,” in Entertainment Computing. The study tested the theory of vivid media violence, exploring whether the presence of blood in a violent game and the use of headphones impacts emotions (frustration, fear, anxiety) and the level of cognitive elaboration. Results of an experiment suggest participants felt stronger negative emotions when playing a bloody game with headphones off. When the video game was not bloody, headphones did not affect emotions. In addition, … 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.

HITS Researchers Involved in New $4.2 Million NIH Grant

The two-thirds of Medicare patients being treated for at least three chronic health problems account for a stunning 90 percent of Medicare spending. UW-Madison researchers received a $4.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant through the UW–Madison’s Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (CHESS).  The team working on the grant includes David Gustafson, Jane Mahoney, Randy Brown, Louise Mares, and Dhavan Shah. They wil develop a new e-health intervention called Chronic Condition Health Enhancement Support System, or C-CHESS that builds upon the success of previous CHESS applications for conditions like cancer, asthma and alcoholism. They will recruit 330 older … Continue reading

SMAD Research Featured in Washington Post

The Social Media and Democracy group’s research on social media discourse after mass shootings was featured in the Washington Post! The report summarizes the results of the analysis of 1.3 million tweets and 700 related hashtags related to mass shootings.  SMAD researchers found that the emotional expressions that immediately followed mass shootings, typified by phrases like “thoughts and prayers,” were short lived.  In contrast, posts advocating gun control became more prevalent in the online debate, varying in intensity depending on whether the victims were women and children (more volume) or had higher proportions of African-American victims (less volume). This faded … Continue reading

CCCP Hosts Communication and Populism Symposium

The Civic Culture and Contention Politics Group, with support from the UW’s Center for European Studies, hosted an international symposium and workshop entitled “Communication, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy.” The symposium explored how democracies across Europe and the Americas are in crisis due to the rise of populism, spurred by the perceived lack of legitimacy of existing processes and institutions in the eyes of vast numbers of their citizens. Speakers considered how growing polarization and fragmentation in the media ecology, as reflected in partisan media, broadcast content, political advertising and social media, has contributed to ideological and partisan political … Continue reading

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

Computational Methods Group Meetings, Spring 2018

Computational Methods will meet every other week at 3:30 PM in the MCRC lab this semester (Spring 2018). This semester, we will be focusing on natural language processing and machine learning strategies and will have stand-along workshops for a multitude of other programs. Scheduled workshops include: 2/2/2018 – tidytext (R package), taught by Josephine Lukito 2/16/2018 – SQL Workshop, taught by Research Data Services 3/16/2018 – LaTeX workshop, taught by Chuan Liu 4/13/2018 – LDA Topic Modeling using topicmodels (R package), taught by Josephine Lukito 4/27/2018 – Structural Topic Modeling using stm (R package), taught by Chuan Liu 5/4/2018 – … Continue reading