Research Publication Roundup: January 2021

A vibrant and collaborative interdisciplinary research culture at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media creates new knowledge, advances scholarship and helps reinvent media.

Assistant Professor Lucinda Austin and colleagues recently contributed multiple chapters to the Routledge book "Advancing Crisis Communication Effectiveness: Integrating Public Relations Scholarship With Practice." More details on these chapters are listed below, along with a list of other recently published or presented scholarship by UNC Hussman faculty and students.


Austin, L., van der Meer, T., Lee, Y-I., & Spangler, J. (2021). Managing misinformation and conflicting information In Y. Jin, B. Reber, & G. Nowak (Eds.), Advancing crisis communication effectiveness: Integrating public relations scholarship with practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

In this book chapter, the researchers define misinformation and rumors in the context of crisis communication. The chapter describes the characteristics of the spread of misinformation, offers strategies for countering it during times of crisis and provides recommendations for organizations that are dealing with misinformation and rumors in practice.

Farman, L. M. ('14), Comello, M. L. G., & Edwards, J. (2020). Are consumers put off by retargeted ads on social media? Evidence for perceptions of marketing surveillance and decreased ad effectiveness. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media.

Consumers have described retargeted ads as “creepy,” possibly because these ads cue consumers that marketers are collecting personal data. The researchers exposed participants to either an ad that was targeted to past online behaviors or a general product ad. Behavioral targeting had a positive direct effect on purchase intent, but those exposed to behavioral targeting experienced increased perceived marketing surveillance. This led to increased threat, an increased psychological reaction, negative attitudes toward the ad and negative purchase intention.

Fryburg, D. A., Urles, S., Myrick, J. G., Dillman Carpentier, F., & Oliver, M. B. (2021). Kindness media rapidly inspires viewers and increases happiness, calm, gratitude, and generosity in a health care setting. Frontiers in Psychology.

Clinical care settings can be particularly stressful for both patients and providers. Kindness and compassion are buffers for the negative effects of stress, likely through strengthening positive interpersonal connection. In previous laboratory-based studies, simply watching kindness media uplifted viewers and promoted connection to others. The present study shows that kindness media created from real photos and life stories gathered from across the globe and submitted to non-profit organization, Envision Kindness, positively impacted parents and staff in a real-world pediatric healthcare setting. Seeing depictions of kindness in the waiting room not only lifted spirits but also encouraged more generous behavior by way of donating participation incentives to families in need.

Jin, Y., & Austin, L. L. (2020). Crisis communication and social media. In F. Frandsen & W. Johansen (Eds.), Handbook of Crisis Communication. Handbooks of Communication Science series, Volume 23. Berlin: De Gruyter.

This book chapter focuses on the role of social media in crisis communication theory and application. The researchers discuss approaches to and concepts for studying social media and crisis communication and suggest future directions for crisis communication and social media research.

Li, W., Vargas-Rivera, M., Kalan, M. E., Taleb, Z. B., Asfar, T., Osibogun, O., Noar, S., M., & Maziak, W. (2021). The effect of graphic health warning labels placed on the ENDS device on young adults users’ experience, exposure and intention to use: A pilot study. Health Communication.

This experimental clinical lab study aimed to evaluate the effect of placing graphic health warning labels on e-cigarettes on users’ experience, puffing patterns, harm perception, nicotine exposure and intention to quit or use e-cigarettes in the future. Exposure to the warning labels was significantly associated with reduced positive experiences (such as pleasure, product liking and user satisfaction), and participants were less interested in using the same product again even if it was the only product available on the market. This pilot study shows that placing these warning labels on e-cigarettes may be an effective and promising strategy to reduce e-cigarette use among young people.

Liu, B.F., Jin, Y., Austin, L., Kuligowski, E., & Espina, C. (2021, Feb.). Social-Mediated Crisis Communication (SMCC) Model: Identifying the next frontier. In Y. Jin, B. Reber, & G. Nowak (Eds.), Advancing crisis communication effectiveness: Integrating public relations scholarship with practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Social media have become dominant channels for organizations and citizens to share disaster information. Social media platforms can be used to reach publics during disasters, obtain awareness of current disaster conditions and advance collaborative approaches to emergency management. In this book chapter, the researchers uncover why social media matters during disasters and discuss the limitations of social media during these events.

Sellnow, D., Austin, L., Turner, C., & Dias Reis, C. (2021, Feb.). Social media and technology. In Y. Jin, B. Reber, & G. Nowak (Eds.), Advancing crisis communication effectiveness: Integrating public relations scholarship with practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Technology and social media have impacted the crisis communication industry in countless ways, creating new challenges and opportunities with each innovation. In this book chapter, the researchers explore the impact technology and social media have had on the communication industry.

Vargas, L., Comello, M. L. G., & Porter, J. (2020). The Web’s potential to provide depression literacy resources to Latinx teens: A missed opportunity? Howard Journal of Communications.

U.S. Latinx adolescents have the highest levels of depression and the lowest access to treatment. Online educational resources have the potential to improve mental health literacy, but little is known about the availability and quality of web documents about depression targeting Latinx teens. The researchers conducted a qualitative content analysis of search engine results to inform future research. Of the 330 results, the majority were news stories, most with breaking news in Spanish about youth suicides. Only two documents targeted Latinx youth, including one that was depression-specific. This work highlights the need for web documents aiming to enhance depression literacy among Latinx teens that are both easily discoverable as well as socio-politically and culturally tailored.

Velasquez, A., Mora-Plazas, M., Gomez, L. F., Taillie, L. S., & Dillman Carpentier, F. R. (2020). Extent and nutritional quality of foods and beverages to which children are exposed in Colombian TV food advertising. Public Health Nutrition.

Countries in Latin America are making moves to combat increasing rates of childhood obesity and have been looking across the food environment, including marketing strategies, to identify all the factors contributing to children's dietary intake and preferences. The researchers examined a year's worth of food and beverage advertising across television in Colombia and found a disproportionate amount of advertising of foods determined by the Pan-American Health Organization to be energy-dense and nutrient-poor. Of particular interest, unhealthy food advertising, often thought to be disproportionately seen by those in lower socioeconomic classes, was seen equally by children across strata in Colombia, suggesting widespread influence on food preferences and therefore needing a widespread solution to reduce this influence.