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Research Projects

Are "inspirational" stories always good?

Lead Researcher

Objective

  • To understand how so-called "inspirational" stories shape who readers think is responsible for solving health problems.

 

Work

  • Recruited 555 participants online.

  • Participants read a news article about a teen who saved up for two years to buy a wheelchair for his friend.

  • Randomly assigned to one of three edits of the story: an uplifting version, a version that questioned the situation, or a no-story control group.

  • Questioned whether the different versions would affect readers':

    • engagement (enjoyment, appreciation)

    • assignment of responsibility

    • desire to share the story with others

    • desire to act pro-socially (donate, volunteer, sign petitions, etc.).

Result

  • Questioning the situation encouraged people to share and seek similar stories.

  • Questioning the teen's need for help led readers to see insurance or government as more responsible for solving the health needs (as opposed to the teen himself).

  • Readers who saw the teen as less responsible were also more willing to help and to see that help as potentially effective.

  • These results remained despite readers' political orientation.

Reflection

  • Small changes in news coverage can greatly influence how audiences perceive responsibility for social issues.

  • Further exploration into explicit calls for action would be worthwhile.

Tools

  • Qualtrics, Amazon Mechanical Turk,
    A/B Testing, statistical analysis of variance (ANOVA) in SPSS, survey design, experimental design, questionnaire development

The Story
Framing
Who should be responsible for paying?
Helping: Social frame increased social-oriented helping

Published in Media and Communication (Moore, Green, Fitzgerald, & Paravati, 2021).​

Presented at the 71st Annual International Communication Association Conference (May 2021).

Presented at the Annual Conference of the Pacific Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (PAPOR; December 2021).

How does choice impact learning?

Lead Researcher

Objective

  • Investigate whether people choose their preferred type of learning material when given the option.

  • Explore how choice different types of material affect quiz scores and satisfaction with the learning process.

Work

  • Recruited 283 undergraduate students.

  • Participants were randomly assigned to either have a choice or no choice in their learning material.

  • Participants could choose either a story or a list of facts to learn from.

  • Measured individuals' tendency to engage with stories (their transportability) to see if this would relate to their preferred type of learning material and their quiz scores.

Result

  • Having a choice increased quiz scores.

  • Individuals did choose their preferred material if they were able to.

  • Having a choice in material did not increase participants' satisfaction with the process.

  • Those who tend to engage more with stories scored higher if they read the story.

  • Participants who tend to engage more with stories were not more likely to choose the story version over the list.

 

Reflection

  • The quiz I wrote was harder than it should have been, and short-answer items prevented participants from seeing their grades (which could have affected their satisfaction).

  • In the future, I would aim for a larger range of multiple choice questions and text recognition that could be graded automatically.

  • Changing the stakes might show differences in satisfaction too (this was a volunteer study, and their score did not affect the credit they received).

Tools

  • Qualtrics, A/B testing, survey design, experimental design, creation and editing of learning material and quiz questions, statistical correlations and analyses of variance (ANOVA) in SPSS

Choice Effects
Procedure
Results - Choice Effects
Results - Choice Effects
Conclusions

Published in Communication Quarterly (Moore & Green, 2021).

Presented at the 70th Annual International Communication Association Conference (May 2020).

Can a videogame make us more eco-friendly?

Lead Researcher

Objective

  • Explore whether guilt over past failures to be eco-friendly (eco-guilt) could be triggered to shape future eco-friendly acts.

  • Study the effects of ECO, a game with a strong pro-environmental message.

 

Work

  • Study 1 recruited 62 undergraduate students for an in-person study.

    • All participants took an environmental survey. Some also watched a trailer from the developers of ECO or played ECO.

    • We measured individuals' empathy and environmental attitudes, knowledge, and intentions.

    • Participants were offered a drink of water and could chose between recyclable plastic and non-recyclable Styrofoam cups.

    • As they left, participants passed a bottle in the hallway which we hoped they would recycle.

  • Study 2 recruited 293 participants online. Participants either watched the trailer or only completed the environmental survey. 

Result

  • Study 1 found that participants who felt guilt over their past environmental failures were more likely to say they would be more environmentally friendly in the future.

  • Participants were more likely to decline a drink if they just watched the trailer–a potentially more eco-friendly choice than using a disposable cup.

  • To test the trailer with more participants we moved the study online.

  • Study 2 found again past guilt about the environment led to stronger eco-friendly intentions, as did higher levels of empathy.

  • Interestingly, those who typically cared less about the environment were more likely to say they wanted to be more eco-friendly in the future.

Reflection

  • Eco-guilt is a strong motivator for future eco-friendly behavior.

  • Unusual messaging can reach those who are typically unconcerned with eco issues.

  • Recycling the bottle in the hallway and choosing the cup did not work as planned. Apparently, many other factors go into these decisions (e.g., not wanting to touch garbage, “I like to see the liquid in the cup” or “Styrofoam is for hot water”). It would be interesting to explore this in greater detail.

Tools

  • A/B testing (in person and online), survey design, experimental design, observational study

  • Statistical analyses in SPSS: chi-square tests, analyses of variance (ANOVA), correlation, and regression

ECO by Strange Loop Games
Results - Hypothesis 2
Regression model predicting behavioral intention
Notable Findings

Published in Environmental Communication (Moore & Yang, 2019).​

Presented at the Conference on Communication and Environment, Vancouver, BC (June 2019).

Additional Projects

Publications

Paravati, E., Fitzgerald, K., Green, M. C., McAllister, C., & Moore, M. M. (2022). Narratives to Increase Prosociality Toward Refugees. International Journal of Communication, 16, 22.

Fitzgerald, K., Paravati, E., Green, M. C., Moore, M. M., & Qian, J. (2020). Restorative narratives for health promotion. Health Communication, 35(3), 356-363. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2018.1563032

Green, M. C., Fitzgerald, K., & Moore, M. M. (2019). Archetypes and narrative processes. Psychological Inquiry, 30(2), 99-102. https://doi.org/10.1080/1047840X.2019.1614808

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