Research Publication Roundup: Summer 2020

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.

Ph.D. student Meredith Collins and Associate Professor Allison Lazard recently published an experiment examining how young-adult novel narratives can serve as tools to communicate about little-understood social and emotional aspects of chronic diseases with emerging adults. More details on this study are listed below, along with a list of other recently published or presented scholarship by UNC Hussman faculty and students.


Austin, L., Guidry, J., & Meyer, M. (2020). #GunViolence on Instagram and Twitter: Examining social media advocacy in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. Journal of Public Interest Communications, 4(1).

The February 2018 Parkland school shooting quickly initiated passionate social media response on Twitter and Instagram. The researchers examined responses to the shooting through a content analysis of Instagram and Twitter. Findings revealed that gun violence advocacy and risk perception variables were present more frequently on Instagram, while policy-level factors were observed more frequently on Twitter. Advocacy and details of gun violence drove engagement on both platforms, while anger was associated with higher Instagram engagement.

Collins, M.K.R., & Lazard, A. J. (2020). How narrative engagement with young adult literature influences anorexia nervosa. Health Communication.

Narratives have been shown to alter health beliefs through a process called narrative engagement. Using an experimental design, the researchers examined how the increasingly popular young-adult novel format can impact health beliefs about anorexia nervosa among emerging adults. Findings show that the YA format fosters narrative engagement through mechanisms of transportation, which is associated with greater endorsement of accurate social and emotional beliefs about anorexia nervosa.

Correa, T., Reyes, M., & Taillie, L. S., Corvalan, C., & Dillman Carpentier, F. R. (2020). Food advertising on television before and after a national unhealthy food marketing regulation in Chile, 2016-2017. American Journal of Public Health, e1-e6.

This study is part of a series of published work investigating the effectiveness of Chile's comprehensive regulation of the food and food marketing environment. After Chile’s food advertising restrictions were implemented in June 2016, the number of ads for unhealthy foods decreased overall and especially for sugary sodas, sweets, breakfast cereals and fruit-flavored drinks. Unhealthy food ads were still detected, however, in cable channels originating from outside of Chile, highlighting the difficulty in regulating food marketing in a global economy.

Farman, L. M., 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. Participants (N = 280) were either exposed to 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 perceptions of marketing surveillance, which led to negative attitudes toward the ad and negative purchase intention.

Hedrick, A. M., & Carpentier, F. R. D. (2020). How current and potential pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) users experience, negotiate and manage stigma: disclosures and backstage processes in online discourse. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 1-15.

The study is a novel examination of the major themes and creative ways in which people who are considering PrEP or are using PrEP as a protective measure against HIV are facing the everyday stigma they experience from friends, family, strangers and members of the medical community. It’s an empowering look at how people can prepare for stigmatizing encounters and take control of the negative labels. 

Liu, B. F., Austin, L., Lee, Y.-I., Jin, Y., & Kim, S. (2020). Telling the tale: The role of narratives in helping people respond to crises. Journal of Applied Communication Research.

During public health crises like infectious disease outbreaks, news media and governments are responsible for informing the public about how to protect themselves. A large body of health communication research finds that persuasive narratives motivate protective behaviors such as intentions to vaccinate. In this study, the researchers tested how the public responds to crisis narratives about a hypothetical infectious disease crisis, modeled after narratives emerging from the 2014-2016 Ebola pandemic, through an online experiment with a sample of 1,050 U.S. adults. Findings show which crisis narratives positively affect public protective behaviors.

Nobles, A. L., Leas, E. C., Noar, S. M., Drezde, M., Latkin, C. A., Strathdee, S. A., & Ayers, J. W. (2020). Automated image analysis of instagram posts: Implications for risk perception and communication in public health using a case study of #HIV. PLoS ONE, 15(5), e0231155.

People’s perceptions about health risks, including their risk of acquiring HIV, are impacted in part by who they see portrayed as at risk in the media. Viewers in these cases are asking themselves, “Do those portrayed as at risk look like me?” In this case study, researchers applied automated image recognition software to examine the demographic profile of faces in Instagram posts containing the hashtag #HIV and compared this to the demographic breakdown of those most at risk of a new HIV diagnosis. Results suggest demographic disparities might lead Instagram users to potentially misjudge their own HIV risk and delay prophylactic behaviors. Social media managers and organic advocates should be encouraged to share images that better reflect at-risk populations.

Sheeran, P., Goldstein, A. O., Abraham, C., Eaker, K., Wright, C. E., Villegas, M. E., Jones, K., Avishai, A., Miles, E., Gates, K. M., & Noar, S. M. (2020). Reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology.

Skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer, and rates are increasing because of global warming. This article reports a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of behavioral interventions to reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The review aimed to quantify the magnitude of intervention effects on indoor tanning, sun exposure and sunscreen use as well as determine which intervention strategies maximize behavior change. These findings offer new insights into how the effectiveness of future interventions can be improved.

Stoltze, F. M., Reyes, M., Taillie, L. S., Correa, T., Corvalan, C., & Carpentier, F. D. (2020). Prevalence of health and nutrient content marketing strategies on breakfast cereal packages before and after a countrywide marketing and labeling regulation: A focus on Chile. Current Developments in Nutrition, 4, 1723-1723.

Chile's food labeling law requires packaged foods that exceed certain thresholds for sugars, saturated fats, sodium and calories to use one or more front-of-package warning logos identifying the excessive nutrient, and restricts the use of nutrient claims that contradict that warning. The researchers examined health- and nutrition-related marketing on breakfast cereals packages that did versus did not qualify for a "high in" logo in packages photographed before and after the law implementation. Findings show that after implementation of the Chilean law, 93% of "high in" breakfast cereal packages complied with the use of warning logos, but the law did not appear to affect the prevalence of other health- and nutrient-related marketing strategies.

Xu, X., Comello, M. L. G., Lee, S., & Clancy, R. (2020). Chinese consumers’ ethnocentrism and perceptions of U.S. dairy. Journal of Food Products Marketing.

Using an online survey of consumers, the researchers examined variables relevant to food products marketing in foreign markets in the context of marketing research related to expanding U.S. dairy in China: perceptions of a product’s country-of-origin and consumers’ tendencies to favor local versus imported goods for ideological reasons, or ethnocentrism. Overall, higher purchase intention was associated with more favorable evaluations of the U.S. and with lower ethnocentrism, although there were some differences by region.


American Society for Nutrition Annual Conference
June 1-4, 2020 | Virtual

Stoltze, F. M., Reyes, M., Taillie, L. S., Correa, T., Corvalan, C., & Carpentier, F. D. (2020). Prevalence of health and nutrient content marketing strategies on breakfast cereal packages before and after a countrywide marketing and labeling regulation: A focus on Chile. Virtual e-poster at the American Society for Nutrition 2020 Conference.