Research

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I study media processes and effects related to emotions and beneficial outcomes, such as improved health behaviors, decreased stigma toward outgroups, and increased civic engagement with environmental issues.

I take a discrete, functionalist approach to researching emotion. That is, I look at emotions like hope, fear, compassion, anger, and more, and try to discern how media use contributes to and shapes our emotional lives and our behavior.

Most of my work is based on experimental methodology, although I also use surveys, content analysis, linguistic analysis, and the occasional qualitative approach to gain insight into the role of emotions in media processes and effects.

Some general research questions I am attempting to answer include:

  • Given ethical and efficacy-related concerns associated with using fear appeals, how might positive and mixed emotions be employed in messages aimed at persuading individuals to change their health-related attitudes and behaviors?
  • In what ways do health and environmental media evoke emotions in audiences, and how do those emotional responses impact risk perceptions, individual behaviors, policy support, and social sharing?
  • How do stories about individuals (i.e., exemplars) impact emotional, cognitive, and behavior reactions to media that ask audiences to take action, particularly if the exemplars are celebrities?
  • How do character/audience involvement processes, such as identification and parasocial interaction, interact with and/or affect emotions and emotion-related processes, such as empathy, to shape audience perceptions and actions?
  • How do emotions and related media use shift over time, be that within messages, immediately between multiple messages, or after days, weeks, or months?

I approach these questions largely on the micro-level. I am a media psychologist trying to discern not just how but also why we react to media the way we do. I love numbers, and to answer these questions I enjoy using path analysis and structural equation modeling.

For more on my work, check out my publications on these sites:

Google Scholar Profile

Academia.edu Profile

ResearchGate.net Profile

If you’d like a PDF of a publication, email me at jfgall@gmail.com  or jess@psu.edu to request a copy.