Leeann Siegel Wins 2020 Ackoff Fellowship

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Annenberg doctoral candidate Leeann Siegel has received the Russell Ackoff Doctoral Student Fellowship Award for 2020 from the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. This is the sixth year in a row, and the twelfth year overall, that Annenberg students have been fellowship recipients.

The research fellowship, now in its fifteenth year, is named in honor of Russell Ackoff, Professor Emeritus of Management Science, whose work was dedicated to furthering the understanding of human behavior in organizations. Made possible by an endowment from the Anheuser-Busch Charitable Trust, the fellowships are awarded to University of Pennsylvania doctoral students who are pursuing research in decision making under risk and uncertainty.

Siegel's project is:

Title: "Examining Moderators in the Effects of Exposure to Media Norm Information Related to Health Risk Behaviors"
Abstract: Normative perceptions about health risk behaviors, including both descriptive and injunctive norm perceptions, may influence young people’s decisions to engage in those behaviors. These perceptions can be shaped in part by exposure to media content depicting referents engaging in risk behaviors, which impart a type of descriptive norm information known as individual use norms. Prior research suggests that not all media content containing individual use norms have the same effects on young people’s norm perceptions. To understand why these differences occur, Siegel’s research aims to test whether two variables moderate the effects of exposure to YouTube videos containing individual use norms on young people’s norm perceptions. The first of these variables is perceived social distance, which captures both how similar to an exemplar depicted in a video an individual perceives himself or herself to be and how similar to that exemplar he or she would like to be. The second variable is the perceived similarity of the behavior depicted in the video to the behavior about which the individual is asked. Siegel will first test these research questions using a series of web-based experiments in which participants will be exposed to YouTube videos depicting tobacco use. She then plans to extend this research to other behavioral domains to test how the effects differ in the context of different health risk behaviors.

Siegel is broadly interested in health communication, with a particular interest in how communication environments and communication inequalities impact health behaviors and beliefs related to substance use and mental health. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, she earned her Master's of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She also holds a B.A. in Spanish with an interdisciplinary minor in Inequality Studies from Cornell University.

Recent previous winners include: Stefanie Gratale, Do Eon (Donna) Lee, Soojong Kim, and Rui Pei in 2019; Elisa Baek, Natalie Herbert, Danny Kim, Hye-Yon Lee, and Allyson Volinsky in 2018; Joshua Becker and Elissa Kranzler in 2017; and Natalie Herbert, Stella Lee, Sijia Yang, and Lori Young in 2016.