The Latest Research from UM COMM

Xiaoli Nan & Kelly Madden, "The Role of Cultural Worldviews and Message Framing in Shaping Public Opinions toward the Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Mandate," Human Communication Research 40 (2014): 30-53. 

This research examines the influence of cultural worldviews and message framing on public opinions toward the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination mandate. Consistent with the cultural theory of risk, we found that individuals with a hierarchical (vs. egalitarian) worldview perceived the HPV vaccination mandate as less beneficial and riskier. The hierarchy-egalitarianism dimension of cultural worldview also interacted with message framing to influence support for the mandate. For individuals with a hierarchical worldview, a loss-framed (vs. gain-framed) message resulted in greater support for the mandate and more positive thoughts, whereas the reverse was found for those with an egalitarian worldview. Results concerning the individualism-communitarianism dimension of cultural worldview showed a different pattern, however. Implications of the findings are discussed.


Dale Hample & Ling Na, "Message Quality and Standing to Support: A Qualitative Study of Support Messages Given to African-American HIV Survivors," Health Communication, 1-12, 2013 (online first).

We interviewed 25 African American HIV survivors who were as much as 25 years distant from their original diagnoses. We asked them to tell us about both supportive and non-supportive messages they received upon learning of their HIV status. Their interviews showed evidence of the importance of what we call standing to support. This idea is that particular roles (e.g., medical or family) imply a duty to offer constructive support. Anyone without such a standing is essentially irrelevant to the provision of support. Successful performance of a standing requires ability (to give information, to be empathetic, etc.) but the performance must be activated by the person who needs support. We found contrasts in the quality of messages originating in each of the standings we studied: medical, family, friends, relational partners, churches, and community centers. Dual consideration of supportive and non-supportive messages is productive in understanding the different standings to support.


Erich J. Sommerfeldt, "The Civility of Social Capital: Public Relations in the Public Sphere, Civil Society, and Democracy," Public Relations Review 39 (2013): 280-289.

Scholars have analyzed public relations’ role in democracy via proxy concepts like the public sphere and civil society. However, some have critiqued the public sphere on grounds of equal access and portrayed civil society as a guise for first-world imperialism. These critiques have implications for the role of public relations in the public sphere and civil society. This article suggests the normative role of public relations in democracy is best perceived as creating the social capital that facilitates access to spheres of public discussion and in maintaining relationships among those organizations that check state power. To that end, the paper argues that social capital does much to advance public relations theory and prescribe the role of public relations in democracy. Several implications for public relations from a social capital perspective are offered, including the creation of generalized societal trust, the building of cross-cutting or “weak” ties, the engagement of media on behalf of subaltern counterpublics, and the (re)creation of community or a fully functioning society.



Xiaoli Nan, Xiaoquan Zhao, & Rowena Briones, "Parental Cancer Beliefs and Trust in Health Information from Medical Authorities as Predictors of HPV Vaccine Acceptability," Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, 1-15, 2013 (online first).

This research examines parental cancer beliefs and trust in health information from medical authorities as predictors of HPV vaccine acceptability. Specifically, the authors investigated how parents' perceived susceptibility to and severity of cancer, fatalistic beliefs about cancer prevention, and trust in health information from doctors/health professionals and government health agencies are related to willingness to vaccinate their daughters ages 11–12 years against HPV. The authors analyzed data from the 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey. The authors found that parents were more likely to accept the vaccine if they perceived a higher risk of getting cancer themselves and if they had a higher level of trust in health information from medical authorities. Perceived severity of cancer and fatalistic beliefs about cancer prevention did not predict vaccine acceptance.


Dale HampleAdam Richards, & Christine Skubisz, "Blurting," Communication Monographs 80 (2013): 503-532.

Blurting is production of speech that is spontaneous, unedited, and negative in its repercussions. Study 1 (N = 230) analyzed open-ended descriptions of situations in which respondents had blurted and situations in which they had been tempted to blurt but stopped themselves. Coding of those materials supported our essential understanding of blurting. A self-report measure of blurting was developed and produced these findings: Blurters endorsed more messages overall and rejected fewer because of harm to other or relationship; they saw interpersonal arguments in a less sophisticated way, and as less cooperative or civil, but more pointedly emphasized the utility, identity display, dominance, and play goals for arguing; blurters were higher in verbal aggressiveness, indirect interpersonal aggression, psychological reactance, sensation seeking, psychoticism, extraversion, and neuroticism; and they were lower in perspective-taking and lying. People were most likely to blurt when they believed they had high rights to speak in a situation, and were less likely when personal benefits and relational consequences were at issue, or when the situation made them apprehensive. Study 2 (N = 570) clarified the psychometric properties of the new blurting scale and established its convergent and discriminant validity when compared to a measure of simple spontaneity in speech.

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