Overview of research publications: October 2022


A vibrant and collaborative interdisciplinary research culture at UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media creates new knowledge, advances research, and helps reinvent media.

Associate Professor Nori Comello and Ph.D. student LaRisa Anderson recently published work on the development of a digital health intervention designed to increase vaccination against COVID-19 among young black adults in North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama; nearly 60 participants from North Carolina completed the online survey. More details about this study are listed below, along with a list of other scholarships recently published or presented by UNC Hussman faculty and students. The abstract also includes two publications for Assistant Professor Xinyan Zhao, a first-author publication by M.Sc. student Monica Crawford, and two upcoming presentations for Ph.D. student Andrea Lorenz.


Crawford, M. (2022). Speak Up and Speak Out: Collective Voice in Women’s Sports Media. Communications & Sports.

This qualitative and textual analysis of Just Women’s Sports, an online sports media platform, considers which voices are represented – and how those voices are represented. The results suggest that Just Women’s Sports prioritizes a diverse group of women who promote an inclusive and activist community. Implications for the theoretical study of women’s sports media are discussed.

Stoner, MCD, Tweedy D., Comello, MLGToval, C., Pettifor, AE, Adams, ML, Baez, A., Maragh-Bass, AC, Tolley, EE, Browne, EN, Anderson, L., Muessig, KE, Budhwani, H., Hightow-Weidman, LB (2022). Using storytelling to inform the development of a digital health intervention related to COVID-19 vaccination among young black adults in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama. Vaccine.

To adapt a pre-existing interactive app to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among young black adults, researchers conducted an online survey of 150 young black adults in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. Participants answered questions on two mock talks about vaccines. Participants’ responses varied by vaccination status. The results suggest that changing social norms alone may not increase vaccine uptake. Instead, interventions should also address concerns about vaccine life and safety. The stories chosen for the interactive app reflect these concerns. Further implications for the results in light of the evolution of the pandemic are discussed.

Taillie, LS, Higgins, ICA, Lazard, A., Miles, DR, Blitstein, J., & Hall, MG (2022). Do sugar warning labels influence parents’ choice of a labeled snack for their children? A randomized trial in a virtual convenience store. Appetite175, item 106059.

Researchers studied the impact of a front-of-package warning label about high sugar content on parents’ likelihood of choosing a snack for their child at a grocery store. More than 2,000 participants of at least one child between 1 and 5 years old completed a shopping task in a virtual convenience store. Participants were shown one labeled and one unlabeled granola snack and asked to choose one to purchase. The labels were one of three types: barcode check, text-only sugar warning label, or picture sugar warning label. Parents exposed to either warning label (text or image) were significantly less likely to choose the labeled snack than those exposed to the barcode control. Compared to the control, the text and picture labels also elicited greater attention, negative affect, and perceived message effectiveness; these labels also reduced health perceptions and purchase intentions. There were no significant differences between text and picture labels. Implications for food marketing policy are discussed.

Zhao, X., Wang, X., Ma, Z. & Ma, R. (2022). Emotion Primacy Effect in Social Stories: User Engagement Behaviors with Breast Cancer Stories on Facebook. Computers in human behavior.

This study examined the roles of emotions and emotional changes on user engagement behaviors on Facebook. By analyzing more than 400 Facebook Stories from several breast cancer organizations, investigators found an emotion primacy effect in social stories, as negative emotions in the initial segment of a story increased behaviors of user engagement. Specific patterns of emotional change were associated with user engagement behaviors, with negative-negative emotional change being more engaging than positive-positive or positive-negative change. The authors discuss how organizations can use social media to tell emotionally engaging stories, in light of the present findings.

Liu, W., & Zhao, X. (2022). How communication ecology influences disaster adaptation in multi-ethnic communities: the roles of disaster communication network size, heterogeneity and location. Mass communication and society.

Advancing a disaster communication ecology network concept, the study examines how the size, heterogeneity, and location of individuals’ disaster communication networks predict support-seeking frequencies. emotional, informational and physical during the 2021 winter storm in Texas. Using survey data collected from a multi-ethnic community, the results indicate that different network properties of disaster communication ecologies vary across different ethnic groups and are related to different types of support-seeking. The local character and heterogeneity of intrapersonal ties varied considerably across major ethnic groups. Implications for disaster communication are discussed.


National Communication Association 108th Annual Convention
17 – 20 November 2022 | New Orleans

Bach, P. (2022). Missing the Joke: The Case for Meaning and the Study of Conservative Irony [Conference presentation]. NCA Convention 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Lorenzo, A. (2022). “There are expected to be all these things that some of us just aren’t”: Constructing the identities of female political candidates at the intersection [Conference presentation]. NCA Convention 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Lorenzo, A. (2022). Finding Our PLACE in Activism and Social Justice: A Rich Discussion of the Division’s Graduate Student Work in Progress [Conference panel presentation]. NCA Convention 2022, New Orleans, LA, USA.

The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS)
November 3 – 6, 2022 | Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Difficult situation. (2022). Meta-analysis: Impact of e-health interventions on sexual health outcomes [Conference presentation]. SSSS Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research (MAPOR) Annual Conference
18 – 19 November 2022 | Chicago

Brooks, E. (2022). Not so “emotional” after all? Examination of the predictive power and importance of affective polarization on harmful American political behavior [Conference presentation]. MAPOR 2022 Conference, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Sixth International Conference on Family Planning
14 – 17 November 2022 | Pattaya City, Thailand

Whitmarsh, S.I. Choge, B. Ewuola, G. Matawa, M. Nahar, H. Shariff, AG Walukamba and N. Yusuph. Strategic media coverage strengthens policymakers’ action on family planning during COVID-19: findings and lessons from six countries [Conference presentation]. ICFP, Pattaya City, Thailand.


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