Media Uses, Processes & Effects

Explore the factors that influence individual media choices and the effects of media use...


Scholars in this area examine why individuals make media choices and the effects of media use. We study processes that explain the link between media use and media effects, and the factors that condition both media selection and media effects. We use quantitative research methods to test theories across a variety of domains. Therefore, we have a wide range of interests and specialties. These include the study of cognitive information processing, memory, decision-making and politics, political campaigns, public opinion, health communication, human development and media use, media involvement and fans, and portrayals of romantic and sexual relationships in the media.  

Our students learn from a group of interdisciplinary scholars in the areas of communication, political communication, psychology, public opinion, and social networks. We encourage our students to learn and use varied methods, including content analyses, experiments, cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys, and physiological measurement.


Communication Faculty: Jaeho Cho, Drew Cingel, Heather Hether, Richard Huskey, Laramie Taylor, Magdalena Wojcieszak, Narine Yegiyan

Affiliated Faculty: Amber Boydstun (Political Communication), Jeff Sherman (Psychology)

Ongoing Research Programs

Our faculty are currently involved in the following research projects:

  • Understanding differential patterns of social media use and effects among adolescents
  • Exploring the effects of prosocial television on moral reasoning and inclusive behaviors
  • Exploring phenomena related to fans of fictional texts
  • Investigating effects of media content on perceptions and attitudes related to bodies, sex, and sexuality
  • Understanding how message video and audio production features and content affect its effectiveness
  • Examining cognitive and affective responses to political rumor
  • Testing the effects of various message types on citizens’ political opinions and attitudes toward social groups
  • Examining individual (e.g., existing attitudes, political knowledge) and contextual (e.g., visual and verbal cues in media content) influences on content selection (i.e., selective exposure)

Relevant Courses

CMN 220: Persuasion Theories
CMN 243: Media and Health
CMN 250: Mediated Communication Theory and Research
CMN 253: Children, Adolescents, and the Media
CMN 254: Communication Campaigns
CMN 259: Cognitive Approaches to Media
CMN 281: Special Topics in Mediated Communication

"What can I do with this?"

Students in this area can work in a variety of positions, including in academia and industry. For example, possible careers include tenure-track faculty, media researchers, audience analysts, user experience researchers, and media content producers and specialists. Students can also work as analysts and designers of public opinion polls, political advisors and consultants, and for pressure, lobby, and advocacy groups.


“Studying Communication at UC Davis has allowed me to pursue my research interest in media effects on sexual behavior. I have had the opportunity to work in a laboratory setting, assist in teaching courses related to mass communication, and learn from a number of experts in our field. My advisor and other media effects scholars in the department have helped to prepare me for a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor position.”

Dr. Cassandra Alexopoulos
Class of 2017
Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston