Research

Select Scholarly Publications

Bigman, C., Smith, M. A., Williamson, L. D., Planey, A., & McNeil, S. (2019). Selective sharing on social media: Examining the effects of race-related disparate impact frames on intentions to retransmit news stories among U.S. college students. New Media & Society. doi:10.1177/1461444819856574

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Theoretical and empirical evidence suggests disparate racial impact frames may lead to selective sharing on social media and result in differential retransmission rates across racial groups. In this online study, we: (1) examined reported exposure to and sharing of content about race on social media among Black, White, and “Other” race/ethnicity college students (N=150); (2) experimentally tested how exposure to news story previews with control, implicit, or explicit disparate racial impact frames affected subsequent sharing intentions; and (3) explored reasons students provided for their intentions to share/not share the stories. Black students reported more exposure to and sharing of content about race on social media. Few participants cited discrimination in open-ended responses explaining sharing/non-sharing intentions. Nevertheless, despite holding story topic and source constant, disparate racial impact frames resulted in differences in sharing intentions among Black and White students, demonstrating these frames can influence selective sharing intentions.

Select Book Chapters

Dixon, T. L., Week, K. R., & Smith, M. A. (2019). “Media Constructions of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.502

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This entry provides an overview of some of the key literature that outlines the portrayal of culture, race, and ethnicity in the media. Our analysis focuses mostly on the depiction of African Americans, Latinos, and Whites in both entertainment and news contexts, based upon the research focus of prior investigators. We end with a discussion of the theorized drivers of these depictions and outline the potential effects on media consumers.

Select Current Projects

*Disinformation persists: The continued influence of disinformation on African American and Latino stereotype endorsements (under review)
Co-authored with Travis Dixon & Hannah Overbye

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A two-wave experiment examined the immediate and persistent effects of disinformation exposure on African American and Latino stereotype endorsements, and perceptions of immigrant threat. The experiment also tested whether fact checking and media literacy messages attenuate disinformation effects. Participants exposed to disinformation purporting African American or Latino stereotypes reported greater endorsements in racial stereotypes and higher perceptions of immigrants as a threat. Despite a successful fact check, disinformation persistently affected stereotypical attitudes toward Latinos and perceptions of immigrant threat. Media literacy messages, however, demonstrated potential for reducing stereotype endorsements. Two weeks after initial exposure, the effects of disinformation exposure persistently impacted participant attitudes. The implications of these findings are discussed considering cognitive accessibility, racial stereotypes, and partisan disinformation on social media.

*Can social media news encourage activism? The impact of exposure to mediated discrimination on college students’ activism intention (under review)
Co-authored with Lillie Williamson & Cabral Bigman

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African American marginalization is a pervasive issue in American society. As African
Americans are left on the margins of economic, social, and political resources, social media news offers potential for motivating action that combats policies and institutions contributing to societal disparities. Utilizing the lens of the Anger Activism Model (AAM), this experiment recruited undergraduate participants(N = 198) and tested the effects of mediated discrimination on activism intentions. The findings indicate that mediated discrimination directly
increases levels of activism intentions. Furthermore, although the relationship between mediated discrimination and activism intentions was not completely explained through anger, reported anger and efficacy were significant predictors of activism. The implications of these findings are discussed considering social media news, marginalization, and civic engagement.

*Denotes 1st author work