Twitter Found Effective in Promoting Scholarly Research

How can academics promote their research, both to the academic community and to the greater public? Many academics are turning to social media, especially Twitter, to spread the word about research findings and discuss important issues in their fields. To study this process, Dr. Jacob Groshek, PhD student Brittany Andersen, and their colleagues investigated the use of Twitter during the 2016 Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health. They found that more than half of the conference tweets served to promote scholarly research, confirming the use of Twitter to disseminate scientific work. Read the full article.

Allen, C. G., Andersen, B., Chambers, D. A., Groshek, J., & Roberts, M. C. (2018). Twitter use at the 2016 Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health: Analysing #DIScience16. Implementation Science, 13(34).


Testing “Truth Scales” for Online Fact-Checking

Online fact-checking could prove a useful tactic for combating fake news. But how can fact-checking be implemented in a way that doesn’t provoke partisan backlash from readers? To investigate this, Dr. Michelle Amazeen and colleagues conducted an online experiment to evaluate people’s reactions to visual “truth scales.” They found that the scales could make fact-checking more effective under certain conditions and that, contrary to the fears of some journalists, the truth scales did not increase partisan backlash against the news organizations that used them. Read the full article.

Amazeen, M. A., Thorson, E., Muddiman, A. R., & Graves, L. (2018). Correcting political and consumer misperceptions: The effectiveness and effects of rating scale versus contextual correction formats. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 95(1), 28-48.


Do We Know Sponsored News When We See It?

Can people easily distinguish between sponsored and non-sponsored online news? Dr. Michelle Amazeen and her colleague conducted an online experiment to determine how well U.S. adults recognized digital native advertising. They discovered that fewer than 1 in 10 U.S. adults were able to recognize sponsored news, although well-designed labels did improve the rate of recognition. However, those who recognized the news as sponsored evaluated both the news publisher and the advertiser more negatively. Read the full article.

Amazeen, M. A., & Wojdynski, B. W. (2018). The effects of disclosure format on native advertising recognition and audience perceptions of legacy and online news publishers. Journalism. Advance online publication.


Building Relationships between Corporations and Communities

Public relations research extends well beyond the corporate-consumer relationship that most of us associate with the field. In their latest research, Dr. Arunima Krishna and her colleagues tackle the important concept of corporate-community relationships in the context of peacebuilding initiatives. Using a case study in Liberia, they reflect on the best practices for building healthy relationships between large Western and Asian corporations who work with local communities in West Africa and construct a general framework for understanding such relationships in the future. Read the full article.

Connaughton, S.L., Vibber, K., Krishna, A., Linabary, J., & Stumberger, N. (2018). Theorizing corporate-community relationships and the role of contextual factors in peacebuilding and beyond. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication, 28, 1-19.


Patterns of “Fake News” in the 2016 U.S. Election

Intermedia agenda-setting research looks at how news publishers influence the topics of each other’s articles. Dr. Lei Guo and her colleague applied this theory to the 2016 U.S. election and categorized millions of news articles using computer-assisted analysis to create an intermedia network of influence. For news about Trump, “fake news” websites often followed the trend of mainstream websites, although this wasn’t the case for news about Clinton. In contrast, satire websites didn’t have close relationships with any other news media. Read the full article.

Guo, L., & Vargo, C. (2018). “Fake news” and emerging online media ecosystem: An integrated intermedia agenda-setting analysis of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Communication Research. Advance online publication.


Resistance to Changing Health Habits in the Face of New Information

Many people now consult the Internet for health advice and information. But what happens when people are confronted with online health information that challenges their beliefs? A recent study by Dr. Arunima Krishna and colleagues suggests that many people may not even make it that far. The study found that people are likely to seek out health information that confirms their preexisting beliefs rather than challenging it. Because people avoid information that could provide health warnings, they are likely to continue engaging in risky health behaviors. Read the full article.

Kim, J. N., Oh, Y. W., & Krishna, A. (2018). Justificatory information forefending in the digital age: Origins of information confirmation and risky health behavior. Health Communication, 33, 85-93.


How Moral Self-Reflection Drives Engagement with Fictional Characters

How do we respond to the morality of fictional characters – and how do perceptions of our own morality affect our responses? Dr. Mina Tsay-Vogel and her colleague explored these issues in a two-experiment study. Prior to each experiment, participants were asked to reflect on their own positive or negative moral behaviors. In the first study, participants opted to watch good characters more often than bad ones regardless of what happened before the experiment. But in the second study, people who reflected on morally negative behaviors beforehand were more psychologically detached from the narrative, suggesting that our self-perceptions can affect how we respond to the moral lessons in stories. Read the full article.

Krakowiak, K. M., & Tsay-Vogel, M. (2018). Are good characters better for us? The effect of morality salience on entertainment selection and recovery outcomes. Mass Communication and Society, 21(3), 320-344.


Facebook Use Linked to Decreased Privacy Concerns

Recent news about data breaches and consumer privacy have prompted people to reexamine how much information they disclose on social media platforms. But from where did this culture of information-sharing originate? Dr. Mina Tsay-Vogel and her colleagues surveyed Facebook users from 2010 to 2015 and asked about their information-sharing behaviors and privacy concerns. They found that using Facebook over time gradually encouraged people to share more information with fewer concerns about privacy, especially for light users of the social networking site. Read the full article.

Tsay-Vogel, M., Shanahan, J. E., & Signorielli, N. (2018). Social media cultivating perceptions of privacy: A five-year longitudinal analysis of privacy attitudes and self-disclosure behaviors among Facebook users. New Media & Society, 20(1), 141-161.


The Popularity and Purpose of DNA-Testing Services


Why are DNA-testing services like 23andMe so popular? A team of BU researchers, including Dr. James Cummings and PhD students Tiernan Cahill and Blake Wertz, conducted a survey of over 300 users to find out. People most commonly used DNA-testing to get information about their ancestry and their individual health. A third of the people in the survey went on to share their DNA results with their doctors. The survey also reported extremely high rates of user satisfaction with DNA-testing services, despite confusion about how to interpret some of the results. Read the full article.

Wang, C., Cahill, T. J., Parlato, A., Wertz, B., Zhong, Q., Cunningham, T. N., & Cummings, J. J. (2018). Consumer use and response to online third-party raw DNA interpretation services. Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine, 6(1), 35-43.