I study media processes and effects related to emotions and beneficial outcomes, such as improved health behaviors, decreased stigma toward outgroups, and increased civic engagement with environmental issues.

Some general research questions I am attempting to answer include:

  • Given ethical and efficacy-related concerns associated with using fear appeals, how might positive and mixed emotions be employed in messages aimed at persuading individuals to change their health-related attitudes and behaviors? 
  • In what ways do health and environmental media evoke emotions in audiences, and how do those emotional responses impact risk perceptions, individual behaviors, policy support, and social sharing? 
  • How do stories about individuals (i.e., exemplars) impact emotional, cognitive, and behavior reactions to media that ask audiences to take action, particularly if the exemplars are celebrities? 
  • How do character/audience involvement processes, such as identification and parasocial interaction, interact with and/or affect emotions and emotion-related processes, such as empathy, to shape audience perceptions and actions? 
  • How do emotions and related media use shift over time, be that within messages, immediately between multiple messages, or after days, weeks, or months?

My research examines the interplay of emotion and cognition in understanding the ways in which media consumption affects us. In particular, I’m interested in how different discrete emotions (e.g., fear, hope, anger, happiness, guilt, etc.) evoked by media use then interacts with pre-existing beliefs, predispositions, and attitudes to shape subsequent behaviors related to health, the environment, and civic engagement.

Past Affiliations
PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mass Communication, 2013
MA, Indiana University, Journalism, 2007
BA, Indiana University, Political Science, 2005