Students, faculty, former staff, and alumni have a strong presence in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Communication (Volume 62, Issue 3). Doctoral candidate Hyun Suk Kim, alumna Cabral A. Bigman, Ph.D. (Gr ’11); Amy E. Leader, Ph.D.; Caryn Lerman, Ph.D., and Joseph N. Cappella, Ph.D., the Gerald R. Miller Professor of Communication, published the article “Narrative Health Communication and Behavior Change: The Influence of Exemplars in the News on Intention to Quit Smoking.”
Abstract: This study investigated psychological mechanisms underlying the effect of narrative health communication on behavioral intention. Specifically, the study examined how exemplification in news about successful smoking cessation affects recipients' narrative engagement, thereby changing their intention to quit smoking. Nationally representative samples of U.S. adult smokers participated in 2 experiments. The results from the 2 experiments consistently showed that smokers reading a news article with an exemplar experienced greater narrative engagement compared to those reading an article without an exemplar. Those who reported more engagement were in turn more likely to report greater smoking cessation intentions.
Magdalena E. Wojcieszak, Ph.D. (Gr ’09) and Vincent Price, Ph.D., Penn Provost and the Stephen H. Chaffee Professor of Communication and Political Science, published the article “Perceived Versus Actual Disagreement: Which Influences Deliberative Experiences?”
Abstract: Little is known about whether deliberative experiences are affected by participants' perceptions of disagreement or by what is expressed during deliberation. Drawing on participants in online deliberations, we find that (a) it is perceived disagreement that is strongly related to experiences such as interest/enjoyment, (b) medium levels of objective disagreement attenuate confusion, and (c) these associations depend on the topic discussed and are subject to some critical thresholds. These results have both theoretical and practical implications. They suggest that (a) perceptions of disagreement, although not clearly indicative of what transpires in deliberation, are consequential, (b) objective disagreement exerts nuanced effects that do not always parallel those of perceived disagreement, and (c) disagreement should be assessed in an issue-specific manner.
Lilach Nir, Ph.D. (Gr ‘05), published the article, “Cross-National Differences in Political Discussion: Can Political Systems Narrow Deliberation Gaps?” Dr. Nir is an Associate Professor of Communication and Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and currently is on sabbatical at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Abstract: Even though many researchers devoted considerable attention to political discussion and its individual-level antecedents and outcomes, insights are based on single-country studies. Cross-national variations were either never studied or implicitly equated to the U.S. context. This study integrates explanations from communication and comparative politics to test whether political system features (e.g., electoral competitiveness and multiple parties) affect the macrosupply of political information, and thus either amplify or diminish the effects of individual characteristics on discussion. Analyses of cross-national data show system features correlate with greater discussion frequency and moderate the contribution of individual differences to discussion. The potential of systems to narrow gaps in mass public discussion and implications for future research are considered in conclusion.