See the calendar on the right for the full schedule.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Today on Campus

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Dave Whitsett Next Week in COPS

Next week Political Science Ph.D. student Dave Whitsett will present in COPS, and he's looking for potential collaborators. Here's a description of the ideas he'll present:

Political science and communication scholars in recent decades have been preoccupied with an array of issues related to what might be called the “epistemic well-being of democracy.” Worries about democracy’s epistemic well-being motivate research warning, for example, of the increased potential for cognitive biases to influence people’s worldviews in a high-choice informational environment, the possibility that citizens might intentionally or unintentionally use technology to sequester themselves into “echo chambers” that do not expose them to challenges to their beliefs, and the ability for misinformation to spread through new communications media with unprecedented ease and quickness due to reduced barriers to entry. Of late, the picture painted by commentators has tended to be highly pessimistic, with numerous scholars and mainstream pundits voicing sentiments similar to those expressed by Anya Schiffrin, who in a recent issue of the Journal of International Affairs claims that “it does not seem an exaggeration to say that disinformation spread by social media has undermined the functioning of democracy globally.” (1)

While I agree with these scholars that the epistemic well-being of democracy is of paramount normative importance and that it is vital to try to understand the ways it is impacted by evolving communications technologies, I also believe sweeping conclusions like Schiffrin’s are premature. This is mainly because the empirical research agenda pursued by scholars looking into the various topics cited above has so far tended to overlook several key issues that need to be addressed before we can make any strong conclusions about whether new communications technologies are undermining democracy and which policy proposals are best suited to help us do better. In my presentation, I’ll highlight the four issues I take to be most important and sketch a couple rough ideas for empirical research I think might go some way to shoring them up. As a theorist by training, I’d love to find a collaborator or two with a stronger background in empirical research/methodology if anyone is interested. Thanks in advance for all of your time!

(1)    Schiffrin, Anya (2017). “Disinformation and Democracy: The Internet Transformed Protest but did not Improve Democracy.” Journal of International Affairs 71:1, 117-125.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

NCA Practice Presentations

This week at COPS we had practice presentations for papers by COPS Ph.D. students Olivia Bullock (and collaborators) and Matt Sweitzer. Both Olivia and Matt will be presenting next week at the National Communication Association (NCA) conference in Baltimore, MD. Great turnout -- marred only by my lame photo editing skills to create this panorama. Next week we'll have presentations by students who are new to COPS this year; see you then!

Monday, November 04, 2019

I'm glad to announce that this paper, published in collaboration with former COPS students Hyunjin Song (now at University of Vienna) and Myiah Hutchens (now at University of Florida) is now out in the journal in print:

This paper demonstrates that people are not as accurate in perceiving the political viewpoints of their political discussants as prior research has suggested. The political context appears to play some role; evenly divided contexts make guessing harder and so decrease accuracy. The paper also makes the case for paying attention not just to the accuracy vs. inaccuracy dichotomy, but to the threshold for trying to guess or accepting uncertainty -- that one just doesn’t know. And communication plays a role in both of these processes.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

New Facebook study by Garrett and Poulsen in JCMC

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Kelly Garrett
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Shannon Poulsen
In their new paper "Flagging Facebook falsehoods: Self-identified humor warnings outperform fact checker and peer warnings" in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Kelly and Shannon present two studies evaluating the effectiveness of flagging inaccurate political posts on social media. In Study 1, they tested fact-checker flags, peer-generated flags, and a flag indicating that the publisher self-identified as a source of humor. Conducting a 2-wave online experiment (N=218), they found that self-identified humor flags were most effective, reducing beliefs and sharing intentions, especially among those predisposed to believe the post. They found no evidence that warnings from fact checkers or peers were beneficial. Compared to the alternatives, participants exposed to self-identified humor flags exhibited less reactance to and had more positive appraisals of the flagging system. The second study replicated the findings of the first and provides a preliminary test of what makes this flag work.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

COPS Today: Context in Pol Comm Research

Today we will talk about an issue that is particularly salient at this moment in the United States: the role of context in the study of political communication effects. A new Forum was just released in the journal Political Communication which focuses on just this topic. For instance, Rojas and Valenzuela make the argument that research in the United States should have the same expectation of taking explicit consideration of the context of research conducted here as scholars studying other political contexts must make regarding any particular idiosyncrasies of those contexts. Let's talk about this, but perhaps expand the idea to the particular temporal context or geographic context of the research that we conduct in the U.S. For instance, what are the implications of gathering data at the current political moment, as the U.S. House of Representatives pursues an impeachment inquiry against the president, and roughly 20 Democrats vie for their party's nomination to run for president in 2020? And, would it matter if one were conducting a study a politics at this time in Iowa compared to Columbus Ohio compared to Montana?

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Catching up: COPS Students take major School of Communication Research Awards

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Matt Sweitzer
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Olivia Bullock
For those out of the loop at the end of Spring 2019 (as I was due to being on sabbatical...), I wanted to share this news:
Last spring at the School of Communication’s annual "Comm Day" celebration and awards banquet, two COPS members won awards for their outstanding research. Matthew Sweitzer won the Doris Gildea Morgan award for top senior researcher, and Olivia Bullock won the Walter B. Emery award for top junior researcher in the School. Belated congrats to them both!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Garrett, Bond, and Poulsen on Satirical News

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Robert Bond
Kelly, Rob and Shannon had an interesting piece in The Conversation back in August on belief in satirical news. It contributes to a larger debate: should Snopes fact check satirical website The Babylon Bee? With data from a 6-month panel, they found that a number of people believe satirical articles are truthful. They argue that making the satirical intentions of the source more clear would help minimize unintended belief in inaccurate information.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Congrats to Hillary Shulman!

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Hillary Shulman
Congratulations to Assistant Professor, and COPS faculty member, Hillary Shulman! 

Hillary and her colleague, Associate Professor Daniel Bergan (Michigan State University), won a $20,500 grant from the North Central Regional Center For Urban Development for their project titled "Local policymakers' perceptions of the opioid crisis and the efficacy of extension communications.” 

As noted on the OSU School of Communication website, their project “aims to identify message strategies that affect how policymakers engage with the opioid crisis in their communities.” 

Keep up the awesome work Hillary!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

COPS meeting today on socialization to academic conferences

A quick reminder we’re meeting today to discuss academic conferences. Senior COPS students Shannon Poulsen, Jacob Long and Matt Sweitzer will lead the discussion, but come prepared for lots of question-asking and wide-ranging discussions!

My apologies for missing again this week, but I hope to be back next week…

Friday, September 13, 2019

Coronel, Poulsen and Sweitzer have forthcoming paper in Human Communication Research

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Shannon Poulsen
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Jason Coronel
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Matt Sweitzer

COPS faculty member Jason Coronel and COPS Ph.D. students Shannon Poulsen and Matt Sweitzer have a new paper forthcoming in Human Communication Research titled "Investigating the generation and spread of numerical misinformation: A combined eye movement monitoring and social transmission approach." Across two studies, they examined the role of schemas in the creation of numerical misinformation and how it can spread via person-to-person communication. They found that individuals misremember numerical information in a manner consistent with their schemas and person-to-person transmission can exacerbate these memory errors. These studies highlight the mechanisms supporting the generation and spread of numerical misinformation and demonstrate the utility of a multi-method approach in the study of misinformation. Congrats Jason, Shannon, and Matt!

Monday, September 09, 2019

Jacob Long on Two Award-Winning Conference Papers

COPS Ph.D. student Jacob Long had a very successful summer, with two papers winning awards at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference in Toronto. His sole-authored paper won the Chaffee-McLeod Top Student Paper award in the Communication Theory and Methodology division.

Long, J. A. (2019, August). An approach for measuring partisan segregation in political media consumption. Paper presented at the 102nd Annual Conference of the Association for Education in Mass Communication and Journalism, Toronto, ON.

And, a paper he co-authored was a Top 2 student paper in the Political Communication interest group (which has since been promoted to division status):

Jeong, M. S., Long, J. A., & Lavis, S. M. (2019, August). From political satire to political discussion: Satire talk as mediator and affinity for political humor as moderator. Paper presented at the 102nd Annual Conference of the Association for Education in Mass Communication and Journalism, Toronto, ON.

These -- in conjunction with multiple 2018 and 2019 publications (Communication Research and Mass Communication & Society) and more on the way (in Journal of Communication) -- are a great way to start the academic job search year. Congrats Jacob!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Conference Deadlines Approaching

Major conference deadlines are approaching as we head into fall. The Southern Political Science Association abstract deadline for the January 2020 meeting is Sept. 1st. The Midwest Political Science Association submission deadline is October 3rd for the April 2020 conference. The International Communication Association deadline for the May 2020 conference is November 1st. Finally, the American Association for Public Opinion Research submission deadline is November 8th for the May 2020 conference. In a few weeks we'll be having a "socialization" session in which we'll discuss these and other conferences you may wish to consider for your work, the value of conference participation, and some ideas for getting the most out of your participation. Senior COPS Ph.D. students Shannon Poulsen, Jacob Long, and Matt Sweitzer will serve as panelists on that COPS session.

Monday, August 26, 2019

New paper by Bullock, Amill, Shulman, & Dixon

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Olivia Bullock
Congratulations to Ph.D. student Olivia Bullock, MA student Daniel Amill, and faculty Hillary Shulman and Graham Dixon, on their recent publication "Jargon as a barrier to effective science communication: Evidence from metacognition" in Public Understanding of Science. The paper addresses some of the unintended consequences of jargon use on people's acceptance of scientific technology. Basically, they found that when descriptions of technology included scientific jargon, people reported that the technologies in question seemed riskier, participants were more likely to argue against and refute the information provided, and reported less support of these technologies, than when jargon words were replaced with easier to understand terms. This experiment shows the effects of complicated language extend beyond misunderstanding, and can affect people's feelings towards the topic at hand. This can be especially problematic when the subject matter lends itself to jargon (as in the case of politics, health, and law). The implication is that if you want people to engage with complex subjects, create messages that are easy to process. You can access the paper here:

Social Media and Misperceptions

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Kelly Garrett
Congrats to Kelly Garrett on his paper recently published on social media and political misperceptions! The bottom line conclusion is that "social media can alter citizens' willingness to endorse falsehoods during an election, but that the effects are often small." You can view the paper in Web format here or hit Kelly up directly for a PDF copy.
Garrett, R. Kelly (2019). Social media's contribution to political misperceptions in U.S. Presidential elections. PLOS ONE, 14(3), e0213500. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0213500