Current Projects

Below is a list of some of the lab's current projects.

Visual Complexity and Website First Impressions

This project investigates how different levels of visual complexity influence initial consumer impressions of websites (i.e., their initial favorable elaboration of the site and intention to visit the site). The project builds on past work interested in visual message features (see here) and the project benefits from collaboration with Dr. Allison Lazard (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill). We have presented an initial version of this project at the International Communication Association annual conference in San Diego in May 2017.

Photographs vs. Pattern-Focused Illustrations in Cancer Communications

Past work done by the lab looked at the effects of various visual exemplar presentations on people's perceptions, identification abilities, and intent to engage in protective risk actions in the context of skin cancer (see here and here). The purpose of this work is to offer evidence to improve the creation and dissemination of information on early detection of melanoma. This study moves forward our work by comparing different imagery types that emphasize the features people should look for when trying to identify an atypical mole on their body (that should, in turn, be examined by a general practitioner or dermatologist). Project collaborators include Jake Jensen and Kevin John.

Testing Visual Comparisons for Strategic Health Communication

Occasionally recommendations are made about how to format and select visual content for health messaging. Many of these recommendations, however, have limited (if any) empirical support. This study, pursued in collaboration with Jeff Niederdeppe and graduate student Ethan Dahl, investigates one such recommendation. Using visual persuasion and exemplification as theoretical guides, the study provides a longitudinal assessment (outcomes assessed immediately after exposure and one week later) of the influence of this visual persuasion strategy.

Recommendations for Using and Reporting Eye Tracking in Communication Research

This essay is being written for the "Teacher's Corner" section of Communication Methods & Measures, with collaborators Nadine Bol (University of Amsterdam) and Glenn Cummins (Texas Tech University). The piece will review past work in communication that uses eye tracking, outline metrics common in eye tracking research (as well as how they relate to constructs/variables relevant to communication researchers), and provide recommendations for reporting eye tracking methods. We will have the piece completed early in 2018.