Joseph N. Cappella, Ph.D.

Joe Cappella at Annenberg School for Communication ASC UPenn
Gerald R. Miller Professor of Communication

Joseph N. Cappella is the Gerald R. Miller Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Cappella has been a visiting professor at Northwestern University, the University of Arizona, and a visiting scholar at Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research has resulted in more than 200 articles and book chapters and four co-authored books in areas of health and political communication, social interaction, nonverbal behavior, media effects, and statistical methods. The articles have appeared in journals of psychology, communication, health, and politics. His research has been supported by grants from NIMH, NIDA, NSF, NCI, NHGRI, the FDA, the Twentieth Century Fund, and from the Markle, Ford, Carnegie, Pew, and Robert Wood Johnson foundations. He has served on the editorial boards of 20 different journals and directed 51 doctoral dissertations. He is a Fellow of the International Communication Association and its past president, a distinguished scholar of the National Communication Association, and recipient of the B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award. His book with Kathleen Hall Jamieson entitled Spiral of Cynicism has been awarded the Doris Graber book award from the American Political Science Association and the Fellows Book Award from the International Communication Association.

Selected Publications


Uploaded on Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 4:01pm
Research by Erin Maloney, Ph.D., and Joseph Cappella, Ph.D. into the effects of "vaping" cues on tobacco cigarette smokers.  Related:  Press Release...
Uploaded on Monday, October 13, 2014 - 4:44pm
October 3, 2014: Lecture by Joseph N. Cappella, Ph.D., Gerald R. Miller Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication. The Elihu...

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Current Projects
  1. Designing effective public service announcements:  (a) anti-drug messages to adolescents; (b) anti-smoking messages directed at adults to enhance treatment-seeking; (c) smoking cues in anti-smoking messages

  2. Communicating genetic risk information to minimize fatalistic response and enhance efficacy; smoking, genetic risk, efficacious interventions

  3. Algorithms for the selection of tailored health messages

  4. Framing scientific disagreement to reduce cynicism about science

  • New Media: the selection and retransmission of health information as a function of message characteristics including persuasiveness
  • The content and format features of effective messages: Visual, Textual, and Auditory
  • How to communicate health screening information in the face of uncertain guidelines (mammography and prostate screening)
  • The effects of scientific disagreement among credible scientific institutions on the public’s perceptions of science: consequences and correctives
  • Recommendation systems for health information: content, preference, and hybrid models
Courses Taught

COMM 275: Communication and Persuasion
COMM 575: Social Psychology of Communication
COMM 675: Message Effects

Joseph Cappella conducts research on textual, visual, and video messages whose purpose is persuasive in health, political, and policy contexts. The focus is on features that make messages effective and ones that undermine messages effectiveness.

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Cappella's Network

  • Digital Media and Social Networks
  • Health Communication
  • Media and Communication Effects
  • Political Communication
  • Center for Media at Risk
  • Penn Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science