Several Department of Communication faculty members maintain research laboratories in which they conduct cutting-edge studies exploring questions probing societal interactions.
The Media Labs broadly focus on the effects of media and technology on individuals across a wide variety of developmental, social , and behavioral outcomes. As media and technology are integral parts of the lives of individuals of all ages around the world, we seek to understand how media and technology can be used to positively effect society, individuals, and families. The Media Labs consist of the following: Dr. Drew Cingel directs the Human Development and Media Lab (HDML), which focuses on the interplay between media/technology and various facets of child and adolescent development. Dr. Jeanette B. Ruiz specializes in topics of heath communication and how media and technology can be used to promote healthy practices in populations. Dr. Laramie Taylor’s directs the Media Involvement and Effects (MIE) Lab and focuses on the role of entertainment media in individuals' lives and the social causes and consequences of the entertainment media choices individuals make. Together these emphases allow the Media Labs to speak to the broader interplay between individual media and technology use and a wide range of social, individual, and family-level well-being.
The digital revolution has fundamentally changed the way that we can learn about the human communication processes. As massive digital trace data become increasingly available with tremendous granularity and precision, we are able to address core questions in communication studies in new ways and opens up new areas of inquiry. The Computational Communication Research Lab (also known as the C2 or C-square Lab), directed by Cindy Shen, Martin Hilbert and Seth Frey, is broadly focused on computational social science methods to examine fundamental questions in communication. Some ongoing projects include: online social networks in massively multiplayer online games; peer production on Wikipedia; gender dynamics in virtual worlds; the behavioural patterns of artificial intelligence and social algorithms; tweets and citizen protests; network dynamics of world Wide Web; and physician rating websites.
The Dynamic Interactions in Cognition and Emotion (D.I.C.E.) Lab, under the direction of Narine Yegiyan, explores how individuals process media messages on- and off-line. Researchers in the lab focus on how human emotions guide our information processing strategies. The D.I.C.E. lab uses both physiological and self-report measures to examine the interaction of emotional reactivity, attentional demands, and attitude formation and learning. Studies in the lab apply theories of motivated cognition to improve understanding of how formal features of mediated messages and their content elicit responses, which then contribute to how these messages are selected, encoded and used in later on decision making.
The Virtual Interaction & Communication Technology Research (VICTR) lab, for which Jorge Peña is the director, studies the uses and effects of interactive technologies. Researchers employ empirical methods to understand how people think, feel and communicate in virtual environments (e.g., video games and simulations). Researchers are interested in understanding how the design features of video games and virtual environments affect online and offline experiences, and how virtual experiences can be leveraged to improve our lives.
The Communication in Health and Technology Research (CHATR) lab, under the direction of Jingwen Zhang, explores how technology and features of new media play a role in health communication, shaping and influencing behaviors and medical decision-making. Researchers in the lab focus on designing and testing the effects of theory-based technologies in changing health behaviors and outcomes. The projects mostly adopt an experimental approach employing both self-report measures and objective behavior tacking data.
The Cognitive Communication Science Lab (PI, Richard Huskey) is an active cognitive neuroscience lab studying motivational influences on attitudes and behavior. We use a variety of behavioral, computational, and neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG) techniques. Our research covers a number of core topics including cognitive control, persuasion, moral reasoning, and decision making.