Borah, P. (2017). Emerging communication technology research: Theoretical and methodological variables in the last 16 years and future directions. New Media & Society, 19(4), 616-636.

This study conducted a content analysis of the published literature related to emerging communication technology over a period of 16 years from 1998 to 2013. An exhaustive sample was gathered using two methods of sampling: all Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)-listed communication journals and keyword searches. The study examined the common patterns in theoretical, methodological, and technological variables. The primary findings reveal a lack of theory, fuzziness in the conceptualization of the research, growth in empirical research methods, frequent use of nonprobability sampling methods, and growth in studies on blogs, social networking sites (SNS), and mobile technology. Future directions for this area of research is discussed.

Hust, S.J.T., Adams, P.M., Willoughby, J.F., Ren, C., Lei, M., Ran, W. & Marett, E. (2017). The Entertainment-Education Strategy in Sexual Assault Prevention: A Comparison of Theoretical Foundations and a Test of Effectiveness in a College Campus Setting.

Among existing sexual assault prevention efforts on college campuses, few use mass-communication strategies designed to simultaneously entertain and educate. Although many entertainment education efforts are guided by social cognitive theory, other theories may be useful in entertainment education design. Previous research has found social cognitive theory and social norms theory can successfully influence participants’ perceived norms and efficacy related to sexual assault reduction, however, it is unknown whether such results can be replicated in a naturalistic setting and the extent to which the guiding theoretical foundation may influence outcomes. We used a pre and posttest field experiment with college students in residence halls to assess how different theoretical foundations may influence effects. Over the course of a semester, participants viewed eight mini-magazines developed using 1) social cognitive theory 2) social norms theory 3) a combination of both theoretical frameworks or 4) a control condition with no sexual assault prevention messaging. Participants in the combined content condition had greater levels of self-efficacy related to sexual assault prevention and more accurate norm perceptions. There were also effects for the mini magazines developed with only one theoretical framework. Overall, we found that multiple theories can effectively guide entertainment-education message development.

Hindman, D. (2018). College students and legalized marijuana: Knowledge gaps and belief gaps regarding the law and health effects. Hindman, D. (forthcoming). College students and legalized marijuana: knowledge gaps and belief gaps regarding the law and health effects. Dan O’Hair, (Ed.), Risk and Health Communication in an Evolving Media Environment (chapter 3). New York: Focal Press.

Douglas Blanks Hindman conducts research on ways social structure constrains and enables news content, news organizations, news distribution, and news production. Recent work focuses on belief gaps which are widening differences in beliefs about verifiable knowledge that result primarily from misinformation propagated by political elites to groups with different political or social identities.

Willoughby, J.F. & Liu, S. (2018). Do pictures help tell the story? An experimental test of narrative and emojis in a health text message intervention. Computers in Human Behavior, 79, 75-82.

We looked at whether the use of narratives, or stories, and the use of emoji in a health text message program would influence message processing and liking. We found that participants who viewed messages without emoji elaborated on the messages more and thought the messages were more credible. Messages with stories led to less message elaboration. Both can be useful, depending on what message creators want to accomplish.

O’Donnell, N.H. & Willoughby, J.F. (2017). Photo-sharing social media for eHealth: Analysing perceived message effectiveness of sexual health information on Instagram. Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine, 40, 149-159.

Photo sharing sites are becoming a place where health promotion messages are shared. We used an experiment to look at placement of health information in messages. Messages with health content embedded had the highest perceived message effectiveness.