News

CRC fellows Briana Trifiro & Alexander Rochefort, Associate Professor Chris Wells published in Mass Communication & Society

By Rachel SchlesingerSeptember 16th, 2022

Congratulations to Briana Trifiro and Alexander Rochefort, CRC graduate fellows in the Emerging Media Studies doctoral program, and Associate Professor Chris Wells, on their published paper in Mass Communication & Society. The paper analyzes a variety of media content (i.e. articles, TV coverage, and Facebook postings) on their coverage of the April 23 2020 White House COVID-19 Task Force press briefing and the way in which these media narratives affect partisan trust. Their results reported that on both ends of the political spectrum, many of the narratives produced in the media have contributed to resentment and distrust in voters and viewers.

To view the full paper, visit https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2022.2116719 

Communication Research Colloquium Series Hosts Dr. Patrice Oppliger

By Jenna VigreSeptember 16th, 2022

CRC Fellow Dr. Patrice Oppliger, Assistant Professor of Communication, will be discussing her latest book, Transmasculinity on Television, on Thursday, September 22, 2022, from 3:30-4:30 pm in COM 209 — as part of the Boston University Communication Research Colloquium. This talk will take a closer look at 44 transmasculine and nonbinary characters on broadcast, cable, and streaming services between 2000 and 2021. She notes that significant changes have occurred since the 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry release, primarily the increase in transgender producers, writers, and actors playing those roles.

Letter from the Director: September 2022

By Michelle AmazeenSeptember 7th, 2022

Back-to-School!

Welcome to the Fall 2022 semester at COM’s Communication Research Center! As our fellows embark on another academic year, generating new knowledge through research and theory building, the CRC continues to facilitate these efforts to address society’s communication-related challenges.

Given Boston University’s commitment to involving students in research, the CRC will once again administer its SONA research participant pool facilitating fellows’ efforts to recruit students. The SONA pool gives students an opportunity to become involved with various research activities across COM while earning course credit for doing so. Instructors who are interested in including their courses in the Fall 2022 SONA pool should reach out to our Lab and Research Manager, Lindsy Goldberg at lindsyg@bu.edu.

Our fellows also have access to the CRC’s biometric technology which include devices for measuring heart rate, sweat levels in the skin, and eye movements. We have software for the experimental design, execution, and analysis of these psychophysiological measurements. Lindsy has been certified by iMotions on use of this technology and will be offering training workshops for interested students and faculty. For a quick primer on demystifying biometrics, you can read more here.

As a means to help fellows provide thought leadership, the CRC will be continuing its Media and Technology Survey. Monthly survey questions are administered by Ipsos, the market research company, using their eNation Omnibus, a nationally representative online survey that measures attitudes and opinions of 1,000 adults across the United States. We piloted the program in February 2022 on the topic of media trust. You can read the results here. If you have an idea for a topic for a future survey, please email me (mamazeen@bu.edu).

To engage our community, the CRC will be hosting numerous events this fall. Our Colloquium Series, which originated in 2009, consists of monthly research presentations that highlight current and original research of faculty in COM. We are pleased to announce our Fall Colloquium Speakers:

September – Dr. Patrice Oppliger (Thursday, September 22nd at 3:30 pm)
October – Dr. Charlotte Howell (Thursday, October 27th at 3:30pm)
November – Dr. Chris Chao Su (Friday, November 4th at 3:30pm)

Every semester, the CRC also invites a distinguished scholar from outside the university to share their outstanding scholarship, expertise, and experience with the BU community. In recognition of the pioneering and inspirational contributions of Dr. Melvin L. DeFleur to the field of mass communication research and his service as a venerable and inexhaustible member of COM, the faculty members of the CRC have named the DeFleur Distinguished Lecture Series in his honor. We are pleased to announce that our Fall 2022 DeFleur Distinguished Lecturer will be Dr. Sarah Banet-Weiser who will be joining us on Wednesday, October 19th at 4:00 pm. More details about all our speakers and their topics are forthcoming.

We are also pleased to announce that the CRC will be co-sponsoring a panel with COM’s Career Services on Careers in Communication Research (Thursday, October 13th at 5:00 pm). The panel will include COM alumni discussing their current research jobs and offering tips to students about how to enter the burgeoning field of communication research.

Finally, the CRC has some new faces we would like to welcome. We have four new faculty research fellows:

Dr. Nivea Cannali Bona, Lecturer, Media Science
Dr. Katy Coduto, Assistant Professor, Media Science
Dr. Pablo Miño, Assistant Professor, Public Relations
Dr. Emily Saidel, Lecturer, Television Studies

We also have 3 new PhD student fellows:

Nicole Hash
Dongpeng Huang
Yihan "Danny" Jia

Returning on our staff this year with Lindsy is Jenna Vigre (MS in Advertising) as well as a new staff member Rachel Schlesinger (MS in Media Science).

Whether you are new to the CRC or a returning member we wish you a productive and satisfying semester filled with opportunities for growth and new learning.

Letter from the Director: July 2022

By Michelle AmazeenJuly 27th, 2022

Letter from the Director: July 2022

Demystifying Biometrics

As part of our mission, the Communication Research Center offers state-of-the art technology to facilitate our fellows’ ability to advance theory and methods in addressing society’s challenges. Some of this technology involves psychophysiological measurement and analysis tools. To help explain and demystify this technology, I’ve turned to the CRC’s Lab and Research Manager, Lindsy Goldberg.

Amazeen: "Biometric technology" sounds very avant-garde as does "psychophysiological measurements." How would you explain this technology in layperson's terminology?

Goldberg: I’ve found that the best way to explain these is to start by deconstructing and contextualizing the word “biometric”. When researchers choose to use these technologies, they’re looking to measure something biological in human subjects. In these particular cases, the bodily attributes we’re measuring are physiological in nature, which refers to a function of living organisms. Psychophysiology refers to the study of how physiological measurements that are collected via biometric devices (like heart rate, sweat levels in the skin, or eye movements) can explain psychological phenomena (Potter & Bolls, 2012).

This technology uses sensors to detect physical changes and movements in the human body. These sensors are able to detect a variety of different physical changes and these technologies are used widely across many academic disciplines. Here at the CRC we have sensors that measure skin conductance (SCL or electrodermal activity), eye movements both on and off screens, and brain waves (electroencephalography).

Biometric research has been occurring in the communication field since the latter half of the 20th century, mostly in media effects research or as part of a specific subfield known as media psychology, but this is changing. For decades, these biometric sensors were more invasive to participants and conducting experiments using this equipment required extensive training, monitoring, and in-person resources. It is very exciting to have these newer versions that are so much less invasive and user-friendly.

We are excited to be able to offer the devices, software for experimental design, execution, and analysis to researchers who are interested in using the technology.

Amazeen: Can you give examples of how these types of tools might be used (for what purposes) for media research?

Goldberg: In a media research context, these devices are most effectively used alongside self-report measures to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how a stimulus elicits a response in a participant.

These tools are most useful in situations where participants might be more likely to adjust their behavior based on what is expected of them or lie on a self-report instrument. Some potential examples of such situations might include but are certainly not limited to:

Assessment of opinions on political candidates based on their ads, sexual attraction to potential partners on dating apps, or stress responses to horror film scenes.

These tools, especially eye-tracking, are also gaining ground in fields such as UX/UI research and design. User eye movements and click behaviors on web pages and app layouts are becoming increasingly valuable.

Amazeen: Are there any cool studies you've seen published that have leveraged this technology?

Goldberg: While CRC fellows have not yet published any studies that leverage these technologies, here are some of my favorites from other institutions:

Ansani, A., Marini, M., D’Errico, F., & Poggi, I. (2020). How soundtracks shape what we see: Analyzing the influence of music on visual scenes through self-assessment, eye tracking, and pupillometry. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 2242.

Millet, B., Chattah, J., & Ahn, S. (2021). Soundtrack design: The impact of music on visual attention and affective responses. Applied ergonomics, 93, 103301.

Ohme, J., Maslowska, E., & Mothes, C. (2021). Mobile News Learning—Investigating Political Knowledge Gains in a Social Media Newsfeed with Mobile Eye Tracking. Political Communication, 1-19.

Amazeen: Can you tell us about the certification you have and what that allows you to do?

Goldberg: With my iMotions certification, I am able to assist researchers who are interested in using biometric devices. This involves support and training in the iMotions software, which is digital experimentation software that allows you to run an entire experiment from one computer, including self-report measures.

I have the capability and knowledge base to not just assist in the use of devices, but also to train researchers on how to use the software and hardware, including helping to identify which psychophysiological measures may be most useful. I can also support data handling, visualization, and export.

Finally, we are very fortunate to have a relationship with iMotions and their brilliant customer support team, who are all researchers themselves. If there is a question I cannot answer or a request beyond what I can support, we have external resources that can also help.

Amazeen: Relatedly, does the CRC have any plans for offering training workshops for those interested in using this equipment?

Goldberg: Yes! I am currently working with iMotions to determine a training program design that fits our students and faculty. This equipment and software does take time to learn and requires a fair amount of diligent effort to execute a high quality experiment, but we do have plans to offer training sessions. Stay tuned!

 

Source: Potter, R. F., & Bolls, P. (2012). Psychophysiological measurement and meaning: Cognitive and emotional processing of media. Routledge.