Past Studies


Cognitive Processing of Video on Mobile Devices

Robert F. Potter, Jessica Gall Myrick, Jingjing Han, Lucia Cores Sarria, Alexis Newman

Mobile devices encourage a head-down posture, whereas most research on message processing and effects displays stimuli directly in front of the viewer.  The aim of this study was to investigate differences in cognitive and affective responses to video content depending on the neck position of the viewer. The study investigated how neck flexion might interact with the arousal and valence of the media content itself, thereby changing the participant´s affective responses, attention, and memory.

An Examination of Framing and Visual Attention to Olympic Athlete Instagram Photos

Lauren Reichart Smith, Galen Clavio

Past research on the visual framing of athletes has primarily focused on the compositional elements of the visual frame, with little investigation into the effects of the visual imagery individuals are consuming. Grounded in framing theory, this study utilized eye-tracking technology to examine whether four common photographic frames of athletes (active, passive, personal, and sexualized) differentially drive attention for male and female athletes. The results of a 2 (participant sex) x 4 (framing type) x 2 (athlete sex) between-subjects experimental design found the main driver of visual attention is the framing of the athlete, with interactive effects of the sex of the participant and sex of the athlete being much smaller than expected.

Parody Treatment of Candidates

Jason Peifer

This study was a manipulation check of the stimuli used in a 2016 election year political comedy study (Mechanical Turk N=236, Peifer & Landreville).  The earlier study used Saturday Night Live’s Presidential Debate spoof of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to investigate affective disposition and emotional response to the parody, and consequent likelihood for social transmission and diffusion of political humor during an election season.  A key premise of that study was that the SNL debate parody content principally disparages one candidate and broadly portrays the other as victorious. Participants for the manipulation check data collection effort (N=143) viewed the SNL parody and answered a series of questions related to their thoughts on how Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were each portrayed in the comedy sketch. Analysis indicated that participants rated SNL’s portrayal of Trump as more unfavorable than the comedic portrayal of Clinton.

Crowdsourcing and Corporate Social Responsibility

Young Eun Park, Sung-Un Yang

This online strategic communications study was designed to test the effectiveness of crowdsourcing in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) process. The study examined the effects of crowdsourcing, a new method of two-way communication with the public intended to gather ideas for decision-making by companies. Analyses parsed whether participants responded differently depending on participation type, crowdsourcing vs. non-crowdsourcing/one-way communication. The researchers tested to see whether crowdsourcing generates better outcomes for companies in terms of commitment, identification, attitudes and behavior. The study also examined situations where crowdsourcing would backfire or generate negative outcomes.

Ideology-based Differences in Physiological Reactions to Media Messages

Xia Zheng, Jingjing Han, Annie Lang

The purpose of this experiment was to investigate whether people with different political orientations and moral motives have different physiological reaction patterns while viewing media messages. It tested the hypotheses that conservatives and people who are low in social justice motives pay more attention to negative messages and demonstrate higher aversive system activation while viewing messages, compared with their liberal and high social justice motive counterparts. Preliminary results found conservatives and low social justice motive subjects did demonstrate higher aversive system activation. However, conservatives did not show attentional preference for negative messages as previous research suggested.

Continuous and Summative Assessments of Musical Complexity and Intensity

Ted Jamison-Koenig, Robert F. Potter

The purpose of this experiment was to investigate music listening using dynamic human-centric communication systems theory (DHCCST; Lang, 2014). Individuals listened to musical stimuli and reported the perceived complexity and intensity of the stimuli. Complexity and intensity were recorded while listening (dynamic continuous response) and post-listening (summative retrospective assessment) and these evaluations were compared. The researchers hypothesize that fluctuations in complexity and intensity will be dynamically perceptible and that summative assessments will be most evident at the peak and end levels of complex and intense moments of a song.

Content Analysis of Features in the Pictures of the Year International Competition

Jennifer Midberry, Ryan Comfort, Joe Roskos

This content analysis of the winning photos of the Pictures of the Year International photojournalism contest was conducted to discern whether there has been a trend over the past 20 years moving traditional “feature” photos (celebrating the human condition) toward feature photos focused on social issues and hardship. 175 winning feature photographs, including their captions and titles, were coded by trained coders. The study also analyzed the photos for depiction of minorities and whites to better understand whether the associated focus on hardship lends itself to harmful stereotyping.  The study questions the value of a trend turning feature photojournalism into the same category as hard news photojournalism.  Photojournalists build their reputations from contest-winning photos and as such, this trend may influence everyday visual news coverage, as well as negatively impact attitudes of viewing audiences.

Trait Motivational Reactivity and Social Attitudes

Xia Zheng, Anthony Almond, Harry Yan, Annie Lang
This survey study sought to understand how trait motivational reactivity influences people’s moral motives and political orientations. Specifically, it was designed to test the hypothesis that political conservatism and proscriptive moral motives are based in the aversive motivational system, whereas political liberalism and prescriptive moral motives are based in the appetitive motivational system. Preliminary results suggest that people’s moral motives and political orientations do not necessarily have a fixed relationship with trait motivational reactivity. The study found evidence that defensive motivational system can drive subject’s promotion of prescriptive moral motives (i.e., social justice) that in turn influences their political orientation.


Incidental Exposure to Political Information on Facebook

Yanqin Lu, Jae Kook Lee

This study explored the determinants and consequences of incidental exposure to dissonant political information on Facebook. The frequency of Facebook use is found positively associated with incidental exposure to dissonant political information and this relationship is fully mediated by network heterogeneity. Once individuals incidentally encounter counter-attitudinal posts on Facebook, they are able to recognize and even recall some details of these posts, suggesting the learning effects of incidental exposure. When the Facebook posts are endorsed by many others, the eye-tracking data indicate that individuals will spend more time and return to the area more frequently when browsing the Facebook page. As a result, they are better able to recognize these heavily-endorsed counter-attitudinal posts. The study did not find a direct impact of incidental exposure to dissonant political information on corrective political participation.  Further investigation reveals that this link is moderated by selective exposure. Incidental exposure to dissonant political information has a positive impact on corrective political participation only among individuals who rarely seek out likeminded information on Facebook. The findings indicate that incidental exposure to counter-attitudinal posts indirectly encourages corrective political participation via anxiety, but not via anger. Indirect effects of anxiety only exist among individuals who consider the issues in the Facebook posts relevant to their own well-being.

Playing with Emotion in Video Games

Teresa Lynch, Nicole Martins

This study investigated how mastery of video game playing skills influences fear experienced during a horror video game, and, how gender socialization influences the way people interpret and communicate about their emotional states. The emotional responses of participants were collected both via self-report, and by physiological measures (heart rate, skin conductance, and facial muscle activity).  Specifically, the first research question asked if players’ emotional investment, perception of avatar autonomy, suspension of disbelief, or control over their avatar would moderate the relationship between avatar formidability and fear.  The second research question asked if players’ self-reported sense of being present in the digital environment mediated the relationship between skill and fear. The third research question asked if adherence to social norms associated with traditional masculinity would influence self-reported fear.

Motivations for Sexting: Motivation Activation Measure and Sexual Inhibition/Excitation Predict Sexting Behavior

Niki Fritz, Anthony Almond

This study investigated how both the appetitive and aversive motivational systems, as measured by the Motivation Activation Measure (MAM), and the sexual excitation and inhibition motivational systems (SES/SIS) interact to understand college students’ sexting behaviors. Additionally, the study investigated the relationship between MAM and SES/SIS in order to draw distinctions between the sexual motivation system and the more general motivation system.

Identity and Advertising

Glenna Read-Bullock, Robert F. Potter

This study investigated whether gender identities of models in advertisements influences cognitive and affective processing of the ads.  More specifically, would there be differences in attention, arousal, and emotional response to ads containing transgender models compared to cisgender models?  Self-report questions asked about the likability of the ads, the intent to purchase products in the ads, and positive or negative responses to the ads.  Participants were primed with simulated news articles describing a new fashion company that uses transgender models, biracial models, or non-models (“everyday people”) in their ad campaigns.  Participants were then shown mock print advertisements created for this study using transgender and biracial models, or advertisements featuring non-transgender models and non-biracial models.  While viewing the ads on a computer, participants’ heart rate, facial muscle movement, and sweat responses recorded. Participants answered questions about the product and brands featured in the ads. It was predicted that physiological responses associated with attention, negative affect, and arousal would be elevated when participants were told that the advertisements contain transgender models.

Habituation of Automatic Attention Capture by Audio during Cognitive Load

Joshua Sites, Ted Jamison-Koenig, Xia Zheng, Robert F. Potter

In this experiment, each participant listened to a simulated Top 40 music radio broadcast. There were two versions of the broadcast with differing types of audio structural features interspersed in each – one with production effects and the other with jingles. While listening, participants played a word game on a computer, set to either low or high difficulty, to manipulate cognitive load. After one round, the difficulty level was switched from low to high (or vice versa) and they heard the other simulated radio broadcast. Following the two sections of game play, participants completed a forced-choice recognition task to see if they could accurately identify items they did or did not hear during the broadcasts.

Theory of Identification with Sexualized and Non-Sexualized Female Characters in Video Game Play

Jessica Tompkins, Nicole Martins

Klimmt and colleagues (2009) argued that identification with video game characters may positively affect players’ self-concept by reducing self-discrepancies. This study tested the claim by examining the effect of identification with female game characters on women’s self-concept. Female participants (N = 78) played a video game for 20 minutes as sexualized or non-sexualized female characters, with the game level set to casual or normal difficulty. Prior to gameplay, participants completed a questionnaire which measured their body discrepancy and general self-discrepancy. A post-gameplay questionnaire measured participant’s self-efficacy, self-esteem, and body image. No effects were found between any of the four conditions on self-efficacy, self-esteem, and body image. One explanation for the null outcomes might be that, despite the sexualized character portrayals, the female characters are depicted as strong and determined in overcoming their obstacles. These portrayals might mitigate any potential negative effects (e.g. lower body image) associated with exposure to sexualized bodies.

The Potential of Twitter Images for Galvanizing Citizens to Collective Action

Ozen Bas, Maria E. Grabe

This study compared the motivating potential of protest images against textual messages circulating in social media, and comparatively testing the role of anger and collective efficacy for collective action in the context of social media. By employing a between-subjects design, participants (N=280) were randomly assigned one condition where they viewed four different tweets about the Black Lives Matter movement. After measuring and controlling for a series of covariates, surprisingly the results showed that exposure to textual tweets motivated higher levels of collective action intent than image tweets. Also, there were gender differences in willingness to participate in collective action as a result of viewing anger-evoking images and efficacy-eliciting texts.

Physiological Response to Normed and Personal Songs

Robert F. Potter, Claire Dudek, Alexis Newman, Sharon Mayell

This study investigated cognitive and emotional responses to song clips from four categories:  1) songs that had been normed as music associated with staying home to relax, 2) songs that had been normed as music associated with going out to party with friends, 3) music that the subject identified themselves in a pre-survey as being music they associated with staying home to relax, and 4) music that the subject identified themselves in a pre-survey as being music associated with going out to party with friends.

Data was collected to see if normed songs associated with partying activate physiological measures of attention (ECG) and emotional response (EDA & facial EMG) more than normed songs associated with relaxing alone.  It was also hypothesized that songs that held personal meaning to the subject would result in greater physiological response compared to normed songs.

Psychophysiological Responses to Structure in Music

Joshua Sites, Ted Jamison-Koenig, Robert F. Potter

This study explored physiological and emotional responses to music, collecting measures of heart rate, skin conductance, facial EMG, and self-report. Participants listened to minimalist music while their responses to particular structural features of the music were recorded.  Participants also listened to popular music in differing formats and answered questions to gauge response to compressed vs. uncompressed audio files.

Health Behavior and Motivational Reactivity

Jingjing Han, Xia Zheng, Annie Lang

This study measured physiological responses (heart rate, skin conductance, facial muscle activity) during viewing of “threatening” anti-smoking and safe driving Public Service Announcements.  The research team was interested in comparing responses to stressful messages using existing coping models from the field of stress research (D.A. Weinberger’s and H.W. Krohne’s models) with the trait dimensions of motivational system reactivity in the Motivational Activation Measure (MAM) (A. Lang). After viewing the PSA’s, participants completed trait scales of the Weinberger and Krohne models, and MAM’s measures of appetitive and aversive traits. The study explores whether the coping style groups in Weinberger’s and Krohne’s models have similar patterns of responses with MAM groups when viewing threatening messages.

Automatic Attention and I-phone Sounds

Anthony Almond, Jessica Taylor, Robert F. Potter

This study investigated how specific I-Phone sounds embedded in a 40-minute music radio program might influence the attentional responses of listeners. The study investigated cognitive response at two levels of observation: physiological response (heart rate, skin conductance, facial muscle activity) and self-report.

The Eye of the Camera

Lucia Cores-Sarria, Harry Yan, Brent Hale, Ken Rosenberg, Annie Lang

This content analysis investigates whether the camera framing of the IAPS images has an effect on emotional response.  IAPS – The International Affective Picture System – “provides normative ratings of emotion (pleasure, arousal, dominance) for a set of color photographs that provide a set of normative emotional stimuli for experimental investigations of emotion and attention.”  IAPS was developed at the Center for Emotion and Attention at the University of Florida (P. Lang, M. Bradley, B.Cuthbert). The analysis team coded for three camera variables, – distance, height and angle – for 711 IAPS images which included people.   The analysis produced multiple graphs comparing framing variables and IAPS ratings of motivational activation – valence, arousal, and dominance.

E-Cigarette Commercials and News on China

Shaojing Sun, Jingjing Han, Xia Zheng, Robert F. Potter

This study investigated whether two message features – the use of celebrities, or the making of health claims – in advertisements would increase the viewer’s attention (indicated by heart rate) and physiological arousal (indicated by skin conductance response), and thereby influence one’s attitude toward and intention of smoking E-cigarettes. The preliminary analysis shows that the presence of health claims in E-cigarette commercials decreases the likability of the commercials as well as the smoking urge. There were also interaction effects of celebrity endorsement and health claims on one’s liking and favoring the commercials as well as the smoking urge.

Media Use and Social Capital

Steffie Kim, Amy Gonzales

The purpose of this study was to examine whether media use (e.g., Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, WeChat, Kakaotalk, Line) would improve people’s social capital over a long period. Moreover, this study was concerned about how media use pattern is differentiated between U.S. citizens and people from other countries.

What People Memorize when Watching Sexually-Explicit Messages

Yanyan Zhou, Bryant Paul

Researchers have focused on the negative effects of sexually explicit materials (pornography) for decades. Previous studies have found that exposure to violent sexually explicit materials could increase men’s acceptance of violence against women, acceptance of rape myth, and self-report possibility of raping. Most of these studies are based on an assumption that people can memorize violent scripts in violent pornography and utilize them in real lives. However, no previous studies have tested the assumption. Based on LC4MP theory, this study aims at exploring what content will be memorized when people are watching pornography. It can help us to better understand the cognitive process of pornography viewing and how to control the negative effect of pornography on young people.

Match-up and Emotions in Televised Sports

Minkyo Lee, Robert F. Potter, Paul Mark Pedersen

This two-part study explored how sports fans process advertising information presented during televised sports.  Stimuli included 8 video clips from basketball games (NCAA/IU) with varying emotional tone – games won, but close; games won but lopsided; games lost, but close; games lost but lopsided. Participants’ fandom was gauged using the Fan Identification Scale.  Participants also viewed 8 30-second commercials and reported responses of negativity, positivity, arousal, familiarity and persuasiveness.  Part 1 collected physiology measures – heart rate, facial EMG, and skin conductance.  Part 2 collected continuous response measures (CRM) and secondary task response time (STRT). In addition to the measures for arousal and valence, participants took a survey about their attitude toward the commercial brands and their purchasing intention.  After watching all the stimuli, there was a recall and recognition test about the brands in the ads.

Cortical Responses to Facebook News

Alan Dennis, Randy Minas, Patricia Moravec, Sharon Mayell

This collaborative study with the IU Kelley School used electroencephalogram (EEG) measures to explore brainwave activity and fake news.  Subjects read a series of constructed Facebook news images with headlines, either true or false, and rated them as Convincing, Credible, and Believable using a 7-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. A wireless 14-sensor EEG cap placed on the subjects’ heads recorded their cortical activity throughout the study. Prior to the study, subjects completed a personality questionnaire, and after the study, subjects completed a questionnaire about handedness and political party affiliation. The goal was to understand the extent to which political affiliation and/or the inherent truth or falseness of a story influences one’s opinions of its truthfulness and what brain regions are active as the headlines are read. The study also investigated whether flagging some headlines as “disputed” influences opinions and cognition, and whether responses differ for local stories compared to national political ones.

Swifties and Anti-Swifties Focus Groups

Leah Dajches, Liz Ellcessor

Media Attention and the Conduct of Distraction

Dan Hassoun, Ilana Gershon, Barbara Klinger


The Relationship between Sexist Television Commentary and Enjoyment of Women’s Sports: Impacts on Emotions, Attitudes, and Viewing Intentions

Jessica Gall Myrick, Lauren Reichart Smith, Walter Gantz

Televised coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, featured a record number of female athletes competing to be the best in the world. However, a number of NBC commentators and NBC in general faced public scrutiny for their use of sexist language or sexist tropes in discussing these athletes. This real-world scenario presents interesting theoretical questions about the interrelationships between the existence of sexist commentary alongside coverage of women’s sports and enjoyment. A within-subjects experiment (N = 78) featuring NBC video of three different 2016 Olympic events (women’s gymnastics, beach volleyball, and swimming) sought to test the relationship between such commentary and real-time enjoyment, post-video enjoyment, anger, attitudes toward NBC, and intentions to view future Olympic coverage. Results reveal some gender differences as well as significant relationships between anger, enjoyment, and viewing intentions.

Election Survey 2016

Nicholas Browning

The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of young voters’ relationships with various 2016 political candidates, political parties, and social institutions, and how the quality of those relationships might affect their voting behavior.  Participants completed a confidential online survey answering questions about how reputable, credible, and authentic they assessed the candidates and parties to be. The survey ran the two weeks just prior to this unique 2016 presidential election.

Effects of New Media on Self-regulation

Irene Van Driel, Walter Gantz

The study explored questions about the use of arousing contemporary media on self-regulation, specifically, executive function and self-control.  The study conceptualized contemporary media use as a combination of multitasking and fast-paced media use, measured as media intensity. The effects of media use were assessed using measures derived from neurocognitive and psychological perspectives. Limited direct effects of media intensity on executive function as well as self-control were found. Instead, this study demonstrated the importance of time and order effects for the variables under consideration. Increasing levels of media intensity were directly related to decreased levels of working memory, just one subcomponent of executive function.  A similar relationship was found on behavioral level where media intensity levels negatively influenced persistence. At the same time, the findings did not follow a pattern that allows for sweeping conclusions. Direct effects that were established disappeared when placing all variables in one model, suggesting that time and order of the tasks were confounding factors that were not accounted for when looking at the effects variable by variable.

Media Audience Perceptions of Mental Illness

Rachelle Pavelko, Jessica Gall Myrick

The series of studies offered a step in expanding research on perceptions of mental illnesses to better match the reality of what those with a trivialized condition experience daily in interpersonal and mediated interactions. In order to provide a foundation from which to study this form of social bias, as well as to study the ways in which media rely on trivialization tropes when portraying mental illness, a review of pertinent stigma research was first addressed prior to the conceptualization of a trivialization concept and subsequent operationalization of a reliable, validated measure.  Four studies were conducted to develop, validate, compare, and test a nuanced measure.  By providing the field with a measure of four different types of trivialization (symptoms as benefit, overreacting, lessened severity, and cynicism), researchers can apply this measure in multiple contexts to see how varied mediums, character types, genres, and mental illnesses result in different types of perceived disease trivialization. This measure can help expand the conceptual boundaries of research on mediated portrayals of mental illnesses by reminding researchers that biased portrayals of mental illnesses are not all purely negative.

Games and Grades Survey

Kelsey Prena, Andrew Weaver

While some researchers have argued that video games negatively impact academic achievement, others have argued that video games have no effect, or even that they improve academic achievement. In this study, 272 college undergraduates were surveyed to explore how video game preferences can explain the relationships between time spent video gaming, time spent studying, and college grade point averages. Time spent studying was a significant predictor of academic performance only for those who preferred action or leisure games; not for those who identified as non-gamers or who preferred logic games. Time spent video gaming was only a significant negative predictor of academic achievement for those who preferred action video games. Game preferences also explained differences in motivations to play video games. Results of the study provide initial support for the idea that different types of video games influence how affective time spent studying is on academic achievement.

Group Decision-making in Online Environments

Yeweon Kim, Amy Gonzales

This research extends identity shift and hyperpersonal literatures by examining how task feedback may affect interpersonal impressions depending on the publicness and valence of messages. In a 2 x 2 experimental design, participants engaged in an email discussion task with or without 38 cc-ed observers and received either positive or negative feedback. Contrary to expectations, the effects of feedback valence on perceived argument quality and in civility were intensified in the private rather than public condition. This effect was moderated by individuals’  self-views. Participants with high self-views responded critically to negative feedback, regardless of audience size. For those with low self-views, public negative feedback prompted less critical evaluations than private negative feedback. Findings support self-verification theory, which argues that people seek self-confirming feedback even when self-evaluations are negative, and stress the importance of studying individual differences in CMC, particularly to understand the effects of audience in online impression formation.

Discrete Emotional Flow across Web Video Clips

Jessica Gall Myrick, Regan Brown

The purpose of this research was to study how individuals respond to multiple media messages viewed in a series of web videos.  During the viewing of the videos, a webcam and facial expressions software (from IMotions) captured real-time response to the YouTube content.  Later analysis of facial expressions chronicled the flow of emotions over time.

Influence of Attitude-consistent and Counter-attitudinal Political Information on Audience Eye Movements

Yu Yin Shen, Ting Yu Lin, Robert F. Potter, Chen-chao Tao

This eye tracking study investigated how attitude-consistent and counter-attitudinal media messages affect information processing, specifically exploring how people respond to such messages in terms of their allocation of attention. The research questions asked:  Do our political leanings and political party affiliation, our interest in politics, and our news habits affect exposure to counter-attitudnianal information?  How do attitude certainty, attitude extremity, and attitude importance affect selective exposure to counter-attitudinal information?

A 2-session study examined the relations among prior attitude, partisanship, selective exposure, and attitude polarization. Results showed that attitude-consistent articles were read significantly longer, however, when participants were simultaneously presented with attitude-consistent and attitude-discrepant messages confirmation bias decreased. An interaction effect was found among partisanship, prior attitude, and selective exposure. The model significantly predicted attitude polarization through visual attention on the web pages which presented both attitude-consistent and attitude-discrepant messages. On the issue of gun control, Republicans and Independents who opposed gun control performed longer selective exposure to attitude-consistent messages which resulted in attitude polarization. Those who supported gun control had shorter selective exposure to attitude-consistent messages, resulting in attitude attenuation.

Me, Myself(ie) and I

MinJi Kim, Amy Gonzales

This study explored the effects on self-perception from the editing and posting of “selfies” to Facebook. The experiment investigated the effect of editing , manipulation, and posting of selfies on the subjects’ self-esteem and self-perceived attractiveness, as well as how online social interactions reinforce the effect. The computer-mediated communication (CMC) theories – hyperpersonal and identity shift models – were tested. The hyperpersonal model predicts that people’s online self-presentation will correspond to how they are treated by others through the process of behavioral confirmation. The identity shift model preditcts that self-presentation to online public audiences will alter the perception of self through the process of public commitment.  This study used naturalistic feedback from Facebook in order to test different predictions from the hyperpersonal and idenity shift models.

Portrayal of Emotional Rewards and Prosocial PSA Effectiveness

Xiaodan Hu, Robert F. Potter

This study examined what kind of media content can serve as an external influence on personality traits of empathy and egoism to motivate people to act pro-socially.  The media stimuli were public service announcement (PSA) videos with prosocial content that either depicted emotional rewards (e.g. hugs, thank you’s), or did not depict any emotional rewards, for the initiators of the prosocial behaviors.  Also, drawing on The Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing (LC4MP), the study hypothesized that emotional reward depiction would lead to better encoding and storage (memory) of information in the PSAs. The participants also rated the PSA’s for effectiveness to measure the effect of calm versus arousing emotional rewards.

Operationalizing Presence

Annie Lang, Jingjing Han, Joomi Lee

This study aimed to operationalize the degree of presence experienced by participants by using secondary task response time to visual probes on the computer screen. In general, earlier research defines presence as the sense of being immersed in the mediated environment. The study conceptualizes a high presence state in the mediated environment can be indicated by higher level of attention to the mediated environment than outside of the mediated environment. This high presence state would be indexed by faster response time to a visual probe occurring inside of the mediated environment, compared to a visual probe occurring outside of the mediated environment. In contrast, a low level of presence state might have no significant differences of response time to visual probes inside as opposed to outside of the mediated environment. The study also examined how motivationally relevant messages, varying in valence and arousal, can affect the state of presence. It was expected that when viewing emotional images, individuals would show faster response time than when viewing neutral ones. It was also expected, when viewing negative and high arousing images, individuals would show faster response time to probes inside of the mediated world than when viewing negative low arousing images.

Attitudes toward Party Music

Robert F. Potter, Edgar Jamison-Koenig, Joshua Sites

This study continued a line of research exploring the opinion undergraduates have toward certain styles of music.  Short segments of 30 popular songs were played in random orders for participants wearing headphones.  Following each segment, the subject answered a series of self-report questions about their attitudes toward the song they had just heard.  After the entire series of song segments had been played, subjects were asked a series of questions about their demographics, music attitudes, and level of formal music training.

Motivated Processing of Commercial Information in Televised Sports: How Team Performance Influences Cognitive Information Processing

Minkyo Lee, Robert F. Potter, Paul Mark Pedersen (School of Public Health)

This study investigated how the unique traits of sports competitions (i.e., uncertainty of outcomes, varying levels of team identification, and the outcomes of the games themselves) influence the information processing of commercials.  While viewing positive or negative video clip segments of IU basketball games, participants’ heart rate, skin conductance, and facial muscle data was collected.  Data was analyzed to understand the relation between emotional experience of fans vs. non-fans, for memory and intentions toward brands advertised during the sports events.


Interactions of Messages on Advertisements

Yongwoog Jeon, Annie Lang

The study was designed to test how food commercials and public service announcements for obesity prevention might influence a person’s attitudes toward food and eating behaviors. Specifically, the study examined the effects of the emotions elicited by the PSAs on the participants’ later viewing experiences of high-calorie food commercials.  While watching the PSAs and commercials, participants continuously rated how negative they felt.  After viewing the PSAs and commercials, the participants took an Implicit Association Test (IAT) used to assess their attitudes toward high-calorie foods, as well as answering a set of questions related to their emotional experiences and attitudes toward foods. The study attempted to test whether PSAs designed to tackle obesity can actually have unintended effects on the viewers’ health behavior.

Cognitive Load during Video Game Play

Glenna Read, Teresa Lynch, Nicole Martins

This study aimed to examine how attitudes toward women are affected when people play or watch video games under levels of high or low cognitive load with sexualized or non-sexualized female avatars. Cognitive load was manipulated to measure the effect on players’ ability to evaluate the sexualized portrayals of female characters.   Past research suggests deleterious outcomes of sexualized female avatars affect both men and women. In video games, playing with a sexualized female avatar increases the likelihood that men will underestimate the cognitive abilities of women (Behm-Morawitz & Mastro, 2009), view women as sex objects, and increases self-reported likelihood of engaging in sexual harassment (Yao, Mahood & Linz, 2010). Women are more likely to engage in self-objectification (Fox, Bailenson, & Tricase, 2013) and to have a decreased sense of self-efficacy (Behm-Morawitz & Mastro, 2009) after playing a game with a sexualized female character.   In the current study, at the conclusion of game play, the participants filled out cognitive load and sexualization manipulation checks and questionnaires including scales to assess levels of hostile and benevolent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 1996), rape myth acceptance (Payne, Lonsway, & Fitzgerald, 1999), avatar identification (Van Looy, Courtois, de Vocht, & de Marez, 2012), and self-objectification (Noll & Fredrickson, 1998).

Motivation Systems Activation in 3D Virtual Environments

Joomi Lee, Annie Lang

Anecdotally and empirically, humans are afraid of the dark.  Previous research indicates that individuals have a general tendency to feel less comfortable in the dark, as indicated by the increase in startle reflex in darker compared to lighter conditions (Grillon, Pellowski, Merikangas, & Davis, 1997). This study aimed to investigate individuals’ motivational systems activation to the 3D virtual environment with different illumination and valence conditions through the use of psychophysiological measures. Specifically, participants were exposed to 3D virtual rooms provided via Skyrim that contained different valence and illumination conditions in both the virtual and the laboratory settings while heart rate (HR), facial muscle movement (EMG), and sweat (SCL) responses were recorded. During the procedure participants occasionally heard a short burst of white noise through the headphones in order to measure the amplitude of their startle reflex. Participants also answered questions about their experience with the virtual rooms. The study expected a larger startle reflex in response to the dark and negative virtual environments in a dark laboratory context, compared to other lighter and pleasant virtual and laboratory conditions.

The Moral Mind: An Investigation of Moral Decision Making in a Virtual Environment

Nicholas Matthews, Andrew Weaver

As a swell of prominent work indicates, communications researchers have found great utility in applying insights from moral psychology. However, morality science is in a pre-paradigmatic state, signaled by a flurry of theory construction and novel findings. As a result, a disconnect exists between moral psychology and communications inquiry. Additionally, much of the work in moral psychology relies on thought experiments, which have limited ecological validity. Thus, this work aimed to enrich connections between moral psychology and communications science and bolster the validity of existing theories. Specifically, the experiments simulated macro-level conflict using custom-built virtual environments to observe which foundational theory of moral psychology best explains moral cognition.

Flow in Video Games

Joshua Sites, Robert F. Potter

This study was designed to determine if generative music soundtracks in video games can increase subjective experience of flow compared to traditional video game soundtracks.  Generative music is a form of interactive music that responds in real time to input that is processed through a series of algorithms to create a musical output. Flow, also known as ‘being in the zone,’ is a pleasant state of deep focus.  The subjects played one version of the video game that used traditional linear music soundtracks and another that used generative music soundtracks.  The study hypothesized that the generative music would result in greater autonomic arousal as measured by skin conductance, great self-reported measures of Flow, and greater interest in playing the game in the future.

Picture Viewing and Music Listening Study

Robert F. Potter, Edgar Jamison-Koenig, Joshua Sites

The picture viewing experiment in the protocol was designed to explore how reaction times to probe tone onsets while viewing images that vary in valence and arousal level are affected by the frequency of the probe tone. It was posited that because the human ear evolved to be more sensitive to more evolutionarily relevant information, the brain might cognitively prioritize sounds differently across the audible frequency spectrum. A question was also posed to see whether musicians differ from non-musicians in their processing of probe tone frequencies. The music listening experiment was exploratory in nature, examining listeners’ self-reported experiences when presented songs that differ in the way in which they were digitally compressed. The study queried whether listener ratings were significantly affected by the amount of digital compression.

Identifying Psychophysiological Markers of Individual Online Bidding Behavior

Lingyao Yuan, Alan Dennis, Robert F. Potter

In this study we sought to identify whether anthropomorphism, attaching human characteristics to objects/products, has an impact on an individual’s willingness to pay.   We investigated the underlying cognitive processes of individuals during online bidding tasks by recording psychophysiological measures of heart rate, skin conductance, facial EMG, and EEG brainwave activity, and through self-report questionnaires.   In the anthropomorphism condition, we attached human characteristics and behaviors (cartoon faces with expressions, voices, body movement such as clapping, etc.) to non-human products.   There were two other conditions: video presentation of the product (no voice), and pictures/text (no voice/no video).  For each condition, there were three products – a TV, a camera, and a tablet. Each participant bid on four products, two in the anthropomorphized condition and two in one of the two control conditions.

A Study of First Impressions in Interpersonal Contexts

Amy Gonzales, Yijie Wu, Mona Malacane, Glenna Read

The goal of this study was to examine the impact of others’ mobile phone use on one’s feeling of being ostracized, and on attitudes towards technology. The main research question asked whether participants would feel more ostracized and have more negative attitudes towards technology when a confederate is texting or reading on a smart phone compared to being included in a 1:on:1 discussion. This novel ostracism paradigm will be compared to a replication of previous ostracism paradigms in which participants were included or excluded in a face-to-face, small group interaction. The feeling of being ostracized was measured using need satisfaction scales, mood scales and manipulation check scales (William et al., 2009). Attitudes towards technology were indicated by technostress scales (Ragu-Nathan et al., 2008), tech use and attitudes scales (Rosen et al., 2013) and attitudes towards texting scale (Mahatanankoon et al., 2008). The study hypothesized that texting in front of a stranger would induce feelings of ostracism similar to those experienced in previous studies, and would partially explain negative attitudes towards technology.

Trait Motivation Impact on Cortical Activation during Still Image Viewing

Anthony Almond, Robert F. Potter, Sharon Mayell

This study collected EEG (electroencephalographic) brainwave data using a 14-channel EEG headset while subjects viewed a series of images (from the International Affective Picture System rated for arousal and valence) comprising the Motivation Activation Measure (MAM), which measures individual appetitive and aversive motivation system activation. The subjects provided self-report ratings for how positive, negative, and aroused each image made them feel. The research explored hemispheric gamma band activation in response to images that differ in emotional content, as well as testing for further predictive validity of the MAM measure.  We asked – will individual differences in trait motivation activation be correlated to differences in gamma band activation, such that approach-oriented persons will have more activation in the right hemisphere for positive images, and defense-oriented persons will have more activation in the left hemisphere for negative images, when compared to each other?   Research investigating emotional stimuli has found the 30-50 Hz gamma band shows more power over the left temporal region for negative valence, and more power in the right hemisphere for positive valence (Muller, Keil, Gruber, & Elbert, 1999).

Coping Styles and Motivational Reactivity

Jingjing Han, Annie Lang

This study was designed to compare the correlations of the coping dimensions drawn from existing models (Weinberger’s and Krohne’s models) with the dimensions of motivational system reactivity in the Motivational Activation Measure (MAM), as well as to test the comparable ability of motivational system reactivity and coping style measures to predict emotional ratings and memory for negative health information.  Stimuli came from public service announcements (PSAs) as seen on TV on four topics: drug prevention, HIV/AIDS prevention, anti-smoking, and traffic safety. Participants watched the PSAs and completed ratings (how arousing, pleasant, unpleasant, self-relevant, and threatening), took MAM and trait scales from coping models, and then took free recall and recognition memory tests.

Audio Habituation during Background Listening

Robert F. Potter

Past research suggests that automatic attention captured by auditory structural features diminishes after repeated occurrences.  These previous studies, however, have not presented the audio in natural listening conditions.  This study allowed participants to perform typical activities (studying, web surfing, texting) while listening to radio music in the background, while psychophysiological measures were recorded.  Analyses will examine whether automatic orienting responses will occur to audio features such as jingles and production effects—and whether that orienting habituates.

The Impact of Tactile Interaction on Product Evaluation

Heeryung Kim, Shanker Krishnan, Robert F. Potter, Kelly Herd

This study explores cognitive differences in response to three types of product presentation: still image, video image, or tactile manipulation.


Exploring Cortical Reaction to Musical Segments Varying in Complexity and Intensity

Robert F. Potter, Edgar Jamison-Koenig, Anthony Almond, Sharon Mayell

The study collected EEG (electroencephalography; brainwave activity) data while subjects listened to music of varied complexity and intensity, and of various genres (classical, rock, etc).  The music clips came from commercially-released songs, with no lyrics included.  EEG data was further collected as subjects viewed a series of still images (rated for arousal and valence) comprising the Motivation Activation Measure (MAM), which measures individual appetitive and aversive motivation system activation.  The subjects also answered self-report questionnaires related to familiarity, enjoyment, arousal, attention and emotion following each music clip and image.

Commercials and Consumer Behavior

Robert F. Potter, Glenna Read, Irene Van Driel, Yongwoog Jeon

The purpose of the study is to further understanding of the influence that social roles exhibited in commercials play in influencing purchase intention and brand attitudes.  The study aims to elucidate mechanisms by which consumer attitudes are affected through the use of psychophysiological measures (heart rate, facial muscle activity, skin conductance) collected while viewing advertisements featuring gay couples and straight couples.  Participants will also answer questions about the product and brands featured in the ads.  It is hypothesized that psychophysiological response will predict consumer attitudes in response to the commercials featuring gay couples, but not commercials featuring heterosexual couples.

Decision Making in Multimedia Environments

Peter Todd, Edward Castronova, Sharon Mayell, Glenna Read

The objective for this research is to examine what effect virtual learning environment game independent variables (IVs) (e.g., student model, priming, duration/repetition, real time feedback, reward, time pressure) across game conditions with each of these variables turned on, have on training participants to mitigate three well-documented cognitive biases in decision making. These cognitive biases include: anchoring (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974), representativeness heuristic (Tversky and Kahneman, 1971, and projection bias (Fredrickson & Loewenstein, 1999). Learning in this context is considered to be the effectiveness of training participants to understand and mitigate their use of each bias.

Evolution and Message Impact

Annie Lang, Anthony Almond, Jingjing Han, Yongwoog Jeon, Yijie Wu, Josh Sites

The purpose of this study is to investigate how encoding systems and biological imperatives influence the impact of media messages.  The study asks 1) do television messages that primarily use representational encoding systems have a larger influence on implicit attitudes than messages that use symbolic encoding systems; 2) Do television messages that primarily use symbolic encoding systems have a larger influence on explicit attitudes than messages that use representational systems, and; 3) Is that effect influenced by the number of messages seen? It’s hypothesized that if implicit attitudes are primarily elicited by automatic activation of the motivational systems, then representational ads should alter implicit attitudes and the more you see the more they should change. Additionally, if symbols reduce the biological response and enable more logical decision making, then symbolic information should have a larger effect on implicit, thoughtful attitudes than it does on implicit attitudes. Stimuli include public service announcements (PSAs) on drug prevention, pollution, traffic safety, and safe sex.

Behavioral Indicators of Attitude Strength as a Moderator of Implicit-Explicit Attitudes Consistency

Annie Lang, Yijie Wu

The purpose of the study is to test the hypothesis that attitude strength, measured by the response latency in speeded “I like/I don’t like” evaluation tasks, will increase the consistency between the implicit and explicit measures of attitudes.

Prosocognition – Prosodic Strategies to Improve the Attention and Recall of a Listener Exposed to an Auditory Stimulus

Emma Rodero, Robert F. Potter

This study explores the effects of different types of changes in prosody (vocal emotion inflection) on automatic attention to radio commercials at the point when the emotional vocal change takes place.

The three protocols:

Study1-  Designed to study sudden changes in vocal pitch level by the radio announcer.

Study 2—Designed to study the onset of vocal emphasis of a particular syllable in the radio script

Study 3—Designed to study the impact of different speech rates used during vocal delivery.

In each of the studies a number of actual radio ads were transcribed and re-produced by a professional voice actor.  The reproduced radio announcements varied depending upon the independent variable of interest (Study 1—pitch level; Study 2—vocal emphasis of syllable; Study 3—announcer speech rate).

Topic and Situational Interests in Audiovisual Message Processing

Ya Gao, Annie Lang

The purpose of this study is to investigate how cognitive resource allocation is influenced by topic and situational interest in processing a variety of audiovisual messages, and its impact on encoding and storage during the process.

Inhibition of Biological Imperatives and Transportation in Primetime TV Shows

Annie Lang, Anthony Almond, Yijie Wu

The goal of the biological imperatives study is to examine the relationship between implicit attitudes and the combination and intensity of motivational activation elicited by the attitude object. Stimuli contain varying ratios of positive and negative content. Positive content is theorized to elicit automatic activation in the appetitive motivational system while negative content is expected to elicit automatic activation in the aversive motivational system. The hypothesis suggests that implicit attitudes should be related to the ratio and intensity of motivational activation in the two systems. Implicit attitudes are measured using a speeded pleasant/unpleasant categorization task. Motivational activation was collected based in subjective ratings of emotional experience. It is expected that participants will be fastest when pictures are clearly pleasant or unpleasant and slower as the ratio of pleasant and unpleasant content approaches one.  Implicit and explicit attitudes will be compared to emotional ratings to test the hypotheses.

The transportation in TV shows study is a pretest designed to select the stimulus material for a future study on the effect of narrative transportation on audience’s implicit attitudes.


Attention to, and Cognitive Processing of, Visual and Auditory Interface Elements in a Single-Player Video Game

Matthew Falk, Robert F. Potter

Previous studies in other mediums (television, radio, the web) have shown that changes in the mediated environment (such as cuts in television, voice changes in radio, etc), called structural features, automatically draw users’ attention, causing an orienting response. This study seeks to determine whether the interface elements of video games (sometimes referred to as user interfaces, mods, or heads up displays) act as structural features of the media and cause an automatic attention response in players. Other work, such as Audio Habituation 1 + 2, done in the ICR has confirmed this phenomenon, and expanded the work to investigate the effect of time on that response. Those studies have shown that over time, the power of structural features in audio streams to draw automatic attention fades, or habituates. This study will also investigate the effect of time (over 20 minutes of game play) on the orienting response, as well as emotional reactions to positive and negative events experienced during routine game play.

Impact of Vocal Similarity on Automatic Attention to Voice Changes

Robert F. Potter, Edgar Jamison-Koenig, Teresa Lynch, Sharon Mayell, Matthew Falk

This voice recognition study continues a line of ICR research exploring the cognitive processing of auditory stimuli in the form of radio messages. Auditory structural features which cause orienting responses include voice changes, production effects, silence, sound effects, music onsets, etc. To identify how differently audio-only messages are processed, the study examines whether individuals fail to detect voice changes when the vocal qualities of each speaker (fundamental frequency, timbre, prosody, etc.) are similar.  Research in change blindness (failure to perceive) and change detection (accurate recognition of change) has focused on visual stimuli, but not yet explored audio-only stimuli. The research question of change deafness looks at how orienting responses are elicited by unannounced voice changes, and to what degree subjects notice a change in speaker, as measured by free recall, cued recall, and recognition measures.  For more information, contact Rob Potter.

Symbolic Relevance

Annie Lang, Rachel Bailey, Sean Connolly, Sharon Mayell

Words and images are both symbolic of real world objects, however, the images seem to be more direct representations of those objects. This study examines how words and images that are symbolic of the same real world objects differ in form and valence accessibility as well as motivational response measured via psychophysiological response (heart rate, skin conductivity, facial electromyography). Further, individual differences in trait motivational reactivity may play a role in how accessible and intensely experienced different types of real world objects are. For example, the negative aspect of weapons and violence may generally be more accessible and evoke more intense motivational responses for a person with high aversive reactivity. Lastly, the role of other types of individual differences will be accessed (i.e. executive functioning, need for cognition, and personality factors).

Processing Third-person Perception in Persuasive Messages

Lelia Samson, Robert F. Potter

The third-person perception (TPP) refers to the belief that media affects others more than oneself. Since its formulation, the TPP has been consistently supported. In spite of this strong support, few authors have considered its potential underlying mechanisms. This study aims to broaden the scope of ongoing research in TPP, to provide convergent validity for its theoretical arguments and a more comprehensive understanding of how this media effect occurs. I do so by using Chaiken’s (1980) Heuristic-Systematic Model, which proposes that there are two modes of cognitive processing. The first involves rapid, intuitive application of simple decision rules and heuristics. The second involves more elaborate systematic thinking requiring more cognitive resources and time.

Sex on TV

Paul Wright

Recent large-scale longitudinal studies have found prospective associations between youths’ consumption of sexual television and intercourse initiation, pregnancy involvement and STI status. The last major content analysis of sex on television was conducted in 2005, however. Contemporary analyses of sex on television are planned for the content analysis lab.

Identifying Psychophysiological Markers of Ideation during Electronic Brainstorming in Virtual Teams

Randall Minas, Alan Dennis, Robert F. Potter, Sharon Mayell, R. Kamhawi

Framing Images

Maria Elizabeth Grabe, Elizabeth Kwon, Yan-yan Zhou, Matthew Kobach, Sean Connolly

Video Game Enjoyment and Personality

Andrew Weaver, Nicholas Matthews, Nicole Lewis

Music Complexity Intensity Study

Edgar Jamison-Koenig, Robert F. Potter

Processing Primary Biological Motivators in Food Advertisements

Rachel Bailey, Annie Lang

Effects of Visual Complexity on Habituation of the Orienting Response to Repeated Video Cuts

Robert F. Potter, Anthony Almond, Ryann Siefers, Nicole Fritz, S.Ziege


Symbolic Accessibility

Annie Lang, Rachel Bailey, Sean Connolly

Words and images are both symbolic of real world objects, however, images seem to be more direct representations of those objects. This study wishes to examine how words and images that are symbolic of the same real world objects differ in recognition and valence accessibility. This study also examines the role of individual differences in this accessibility. Individual differences in trait motivational reactivity, executive functioning, need for cognition and other personality factors are being examined.

Real Ideal: The influence of video game character idealization and realism on body attitude

Nicholas Matthews, Teresa Lynch, Nicole Martins

Video games often present players with an array of content that varies in terms of character idealization and realism. Social Comparison Theory argues that comparison is far more likely to occur when evaluators perceive an evaluation object as realistic and achievable. Previous research shows that video games cause body image disturbance. However, in regards to body image, the interaction between realism and idealization has never been investigated within video games. Real Ideal aims to explore these factors from a perspective guided by evolutionary psychology.

Audio Habituation 2

Robert F. Potter, Matthew Falk, Soyoung Bae, Teresa Lynch, Nicholas Matthews, Ashley Kraus, Sharon Mayell

We know from past work that changes in the auditory environment cause people to briefly but automatically pay attention to the message.  We also know that the auditory structural feature of the voice change does this and doesn’t habituate.  The Audio Habituation studies are designed to look at automatic attention to repeated instances of audio production effects, jingles, and silence.  For more information, contact Rob Potter.

Cortical Response to Relevance

Alan Dennis, Robert F. Potter, Randall Minas, Valerie Bartelt, Soyoung Bae, Matthew Falk

Virtual teams are increasingly common in today’s organizations, yet they often make poor decisions. This experiment investigates these demands on participants during a virtual team decision-making process using electroencepholography (EEG), electrodermal response (EDR), and cardiac activity (EKG) as neural and psychophysiological correlates. Subjects are presented with a virtual team chat room environment, examining how virtual team members respond to targeted information, including factual information about the decision alternatives, normative information about other team member’s preferences for alternatives, and irrelevant information.