My Meta-analysis Recognized at AEJMC

Meta-analyses are no small feat, but the hard work pays off! My major project of the past year — a meta-analysis of narrative persuasion research — recently earned a top student paper award at the 2017 AEJMC conference in Chicago.

For this project, I synthesized studies of the effect of narratives on audience resistance, compared to delivering information in non-narrative formats like rhetorical arguments or statistical information. Narratives are frequently used in health campaigns to promote healthy behaviors, as well as in advertising to distract consumers from critical processing (see viewer comment about this drug commercial having a better love story than Twilight).

The extent of the persuasive power of narratives isn’t fully known, however. My meta-analysis aims to quantify the influence of narratives on resistance across all studies to-date. I presented preliminary findings at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in August.

The project won Top Student Paper in the ComSHER division (which stands for Communicating Science, Health, Environment and Risk). It was also awarded the Eason Prize, created in memory of former PhD student Lori Eason, to acknowledge graduate students doing important science communication research. This was a great honor.

Another highlight of the Chicago trip was spending the day working with colleagues at Northwestern University (here’s the killer view from their office) as we made preparations for a productive writing retreat this fall in Park City, Utah. Our upcoming projects will span narrative persuasion, psychological reactance, genetic communication, and more.

And of course there was some time left-over for dancing — and some award money set aside for new tango shoes ;)


I’m a health writer and graduate student. I’m interested in the wily side of health – self sabotage, persuasion, and why health campaigns so often manage to inadvertently piss people off.

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