We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers who study how media and messaging shape opinions, attitudes, and behaviors of multiple audiences. We design, conduct, and disseminate results of this research to enhance understanding of the ways that communication can help to advance health equity through health and social policy
Our research is conceptually organized around a vision of three interconnected research areas that inform communication strategies to advance health and racial equity.
Our core team includes researchers at three institutions: Cornell University, Wesleyan University, and the University of Minnesota. While each institution leads a research hub focused on a particular approach to the study of communication, with a focus on media and messaging (as described in the figure below), our team’s work is fundamentally interconnected, and we all share an emphasis on promoting and supporting policies to advance health and racial equity. Collectively, our research tracks the content of media (including news and advertisements); examines the impact of media messaging on attitudes, values, and behavior; and identifies new opportunities to engage with partners and disseminate work so that this research is implemented into practice.
We monitor the volume, content, and variation in news coverage and advertising on a broad set of population health–relevant messaging in both local news sources and broader strategic advertising
Once we have documented key messages in the media ecosystem, we assess the effects of this messaging on multiple audiences, which requires understanding these audiences’ values, beliefs, and predispositions. We use both randomized messaging experiments (which help us to identify specific message content that influences key audiences) and longitudinal, observational field studies (which test relationships between the overall content and volume of media messages) to inform communication strategy for social change.
In turn, we feed these insights into engagement and dissemination strategies that build upon our knowledge of various audience and stakeholder values, organizational capacity, and relationships.
These three hubs of our media research collaborative are fundamentally interconnected: the insights from each hub inform and position the others to collectively build and learn from strategic efforts to shift opinions and change narratives to advance health and racial equity through health and social policy.
Jeff Niederdeppe (Hub Director) is Associate Dean of Faculty Development for the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and a Professor of Communication and Public Policy at Cornell University. His research examines the effects of media campaigns, strategic messages and news coverage in shaping health behavior, social policy and health equity.
Sarah Gollust (Hub Director) is an Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Her research examines the influence of the media and public opinion in the health policy process, the dissemination of research into policymaking, and the politics of health policy.
Erika Franklin Fowler (Hub Director) is a Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and a Co-Director of the Wesleyan Media Project. Her research tracks and examines the content and effect of local messaging in electoral and health policy settings.
Neil Lewis Jr. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Cornell University and Division of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. His research examines how people’s social contexts and identities influence their motivation to pursue their goals, and the implication of those processes for interventions to improve health equity.
Rebekah Nagler is Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts and an associate professor in the Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Nagler’s research examines the effects of routine exposure to health information in the media.
Steven Moore is an Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University. His research explores the organization of racial attitudes in the mass public and how they shape and are shaped by various political phenomena, particularly public policy and media coverage.
Laura Baum is an Associate Director of the Wesleyan Media Project (WMP) at Wesleyan University. She oversees WMP’s media research program.
Breeze Floyd is the Research Coordinator for the Wesleyan Media Project at Wesleyan University. She contributes to data collection and analyses for WMP’s research projects.
Kwanho Kim is a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell University. His research examines the influences of the public communication environment on health-related outcomes among people with different sociocultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Jiawei Liu is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Communication at Cornell University. His research examines the effects of mass media messages regarding various public policy issues and public health issues.
Margaret Tait is a PhD Student in Health Services Research, Policy, and Administration at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Her research interests include the influences of media on health and social policy and related politics.
Yiwei Xu is a PhD Candidate in Communication at Cornell University. Her research interests include health communication and media psychology.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of our core research collaborators.
Our core team includes researchers at three institutions: Cornell University, Wesleyan University, and the University of Minnesota.
Support for this website was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation.