Social and Mobile Media

Moving Toward a Small-Mass Screen Culture: Examining the Relationship Between Computer and Smartphone User and Characteristics and Online Participation and Creation

Student Researcher: Amanda Bradford Cortright (MMC)

For a Complete Report of this Research, See: Cortright, A. (2014). Moving Toward a Small-Mass Screen Culture: Examining the Relationship Between Computer and Smartphone User and Characteristics and Online Participation and Creation.

Abstract:

This study investigates the relationship between smartphone and desktop or laptop computer users’ characteristics and online content creation and participation. A survey collected demographic information as well as detailed information on which devices were preferred by the participants in various circumstances. Results showed age and income were the two primary demographic factors in determining a user’s degree of comfort with technology as well as their likelihood to participate with or create online content.

Employing the Diffusion of Innovations theory, this research found support for the idea that home computers have seen to fruition the diffusion process, and are not factors in participant’s self-reporting of their level of online expertise. Looking at the use of technology through the Technology Acceptance Model lens, this research indicates that the usefulness a generation once saw in the proliferation of the home computer now has been more perceived and adopted in the area of smartphone use. This fairly widespread view of smartphone usefulness, except in the oldest age categories, indicates that like the computer becoming ubiquitous, soon too will the smartphone follow the same path.

Interesting findings include the disconnect between a user’s self-concept and their actions; the Content consumers group, who generally consumes rather than creates or interacts with content, seems to rate themselves higher as influencers and experts online than the group who actually creates the content. And interestingly, those that are Smartphone averse will actually use their smartphones more in certain instances than Content consumers.

Why participants’ self-concept differed from their self-reported usage patterns, in my view, is attributable to the fact that as the comfort level with technology rises, the awareness of that technology ebbs. This illustrates the power of ubiquity; once a piece of technology becomes commonplace or highly familiar, the user concentrates less on the device because it has become part of his or her daily routine. This, in turn, causes the user’s self-concept about the relationship between him or her and technology to become less based on actual usage patterns and more based on perception.

Les Miserables: The Twitter Revolution—A Study of Fan Activity, Parasocial Relationships and Audience-Persona Interaction

Student Researcher: Lance Stephen Bordelon (MMC)

For a Complete Report of this Research, See: Bordelon, L. (2014). Les Miserables: The Twitter Revolution—A Study of Fan Activity, Parasocial Relationships and Audience-Persona Interaction.

Abstract: This study simulated a fan extension of the Broadway-renowned musical Les Miserables on a community level and measured the effects of fan interactions—both online and with the characters’ narratives as performed at Theatre Baton Rouge during summer 2013. The stimulus materials in this study were Tweets distributed via Twitter identities for each of the lead characters whereby their thoughts and narratives were communicated with audiences and Twitter followers—coinciding with the opening of the live theatrical production. Patrons of Theatre Baton Rouge were surveyed online after the closing of the production. This study served as a practical use of Twitter for Theatre Baton Rouge and promoting the live production as well as an examination of the aforementioned media theories. The goal was that greater audience engagement with the narratives would result in more interest in attending the actual production. This theoretical approach also had very real-world implications and usefulness for the organization and its operations.

 

Through a quasi-experimental, post-test only design, this study observed the significant predictive relationship between audiences’ empathy, connectedness, identification, and perceived realism of the characters of Les Miserables and their attitudes towards the narratives, their personal involvement with Les Miserables, as well as their behavioral intention to attend the live production. This study also found a significant predictive relationship between audiences’ familiarity, or fan activity, with Les Miserables and the parasocial interactions (PSIs) and audience-persona interactions they experienced. While the hope of this study was that there would be real-world implications of this digital performance or campaign on Twitter for a traditionally non-digital theatre, the expectation was that data collected would also offer an opportunity to apply media theories in new and creative ways.

The Effects of Interactivity and Involvement on Users' Attitude Toward and Perception of Brands and Purchase Intent on Facebook

Student Researcher: Christina Persaud (MMC)

Faculty Supervisor: Meghan Sanders

For a Complete Report of this Research, See: Persand, C. (2013). The Effects of Interactivity and Involvement on Users’ Attitude Toward and Perception of Brands and Purchase Intent on Facebook. This paper is the author’s thesis.

Abstract: Communications practitioners have long studied factors related to consumers’ impressions of brands as well as their intent to purchase from brands. While early research has focused on traditional advertising methods, newer research is geared towards understanding how interactive features are changing this relationship. The rise of newer computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies, specifically social media, has lead to many changes in the way organizations market their brands as they allow for unique, interactive communication between an organization and its publics.

While the notion of interactivity, a core feature of CMC, has no one definition, researchers continue to examine its effects within the digital sphere. This exploratory study investigated the effects of level of interactivity on the social networking site, Facebook, as well as level of product involvement on users’ attitudes towards the brand and perceptions of the brand as well as their intent to purchase from the brand.

The study utilized a 2×2 (high interactivity, low interactivity X high involvement, low involvement) factorial design with level of interactivity and level of involvement as independent variables and attitudes toward the brand, perceptions of reputation and purchase intent as dependent variables. To explore these relationships, this study utilized a controlled online experiment with 96 adults. Participants were exposed to one of four possible conditions, and the data were analyzed using a factorial analysis of variance in SPSS. While this study did not find any significant effects for interactivity or product involvement on users’ impressions or intent to purchase from the brand, it did find that interactivity, attitudes toward the brand, perceptions of the brand and purchase intent were all highly, positively correlated with one another. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Li, M. (2013). Silencing the Mainstream: The Online Public Discourse Constructed by Social Auto-sharing, the Long Tail and the Spiral of Silence. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (Communication Technology Division), Washington D.C.

Li, Minjie 

Student Researcher: Minjie Li (MMC Candidate)

Faculty Supervisor: Rosanne School

For a Complete Report of this Research, See: Li, M. (2013). Silencing the Mainstream: The Online Public Discourse Constructed by Social Auto-sharing, the Long Tail and the Spiral of Silence. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (Communication Technology Division), Washington D.C. 

Abstract: Characteristics of media contribute to the form and direction of public discourse and influence people’s ways of thinking and behaviors. Auto-sharing, as a fundamental opinion expression mechanism of social media, reforms public discourse through transforming previously private activities into a new form of public message. With people’s fear of negative evaluation, the Spiral of Silence offline might be duplicated and strengthened online, which might weaken the Long Tail—the Internet’s ability to bridge non-mainstream products to target audiences—through reducing people’s willingness to share what they really like. The present study examined the existence and relationship of the Long Tail and the Spiral of Silence on the social music platform Spotify to see whether auto-sharing made the Internet more heterogeneous or homogeneous. The findings demonstrate that Spotify’s auto-sharing facilitates the discovery of and revenue from non-mainstream music. Also, the Spiral of Silence only exists when people listen to mainstream music.

Perceived Stress and College Students’ Social Media Use

Student Researchers: Khristen Jones, Tim Klein, Lilliana Lopez, and Otisha Paige (MMC Candiates)

Faculty Supervisor: Hyojung Park

For a Complete Report of this Research, See: Khristen, J., Klein, T., Lopez, L., & Otisha, P. (2013). Perceived Stress and College Students’ Social Media Use. This paper was based on project as part of “Introduction to Research Method in Mass Communication” graduate course.

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between stress levels and the use of Facebook and Twitter, the two most popular social media channels in the United States (Wasserman, 2012).  An online survey through the Louisiana State University Media Effects Lab was distributed to a convenience sample of 102 male and female participants currently attending Louisiana State University. The surveys measured participants’ stress levels, time spent on both social media channels individually and perceived stress. This study introduced an adjusted model of the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) to measure stress perception.  Research findings showed relationships between students perception of stress caused by time spent using these social media channels and overall stress. Research on this topic will allow us to better understand why students choose to spend their time on social media sites.

Texting laws And Cell Phone Users: Motivations for Texting While Driving

Student Researchers: Jonathan Ferrante

Faculty Supervisor: Amy Reynolds

For a Complete Report of this Research, See: Ferrante, J. (2011). Texting laws And Cell Phone Users: Motivations for Texting While Driving. This paper is the author’s thesis.

Abstract: Legal scholars, academics, and industry researchers have indicated that using cell phones when driving is among the most dangerous hazard faced by motorists today. This relatively new technology is embedded in the lives of most people, at all times of the day, including when behind the wheel of a car. Harvard and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration researchers have exposed the dangers of cell phones and driving, but a solution to curtail the problem has yet to be found. This study seeks to understand the motivations and mediating factors affecting texting and driving law compliance by cell phone users. I conducted a survey that gathered preliminary data that was used to create an outline for two focus groups. The survey results showed that 18 to 21 year old undergraduates are highly knowledgeable (92 percent) about texting and driving laws, receive the majority of this information from friends, parents, and news sources, and have experienced, seen, or heard at least one negative story about texting and driving. The two focus groups explained the knowledge and motivations further. Participants reported a high degree of self-efficacy when multitasking with digital devices. This, coupled with what the participants perceived to be ineffective laws, prompted increased usage and deficient self-regulation. This project reveals how a digital native’s hyper usage of mobile communication devices combined with texting and driving laws that are poorly crafted has created an atmosphere where texting and driving is neither constrained by laws or self-regulation.

What Are You Worrying about on Social Networking Sites (SNSs)? Empirical Investigation of Young Social Networking Site Users’ Perceived Privacy.

Faculty Researchers: Yongick Jeong and Erin Coyle

For a Complete Report of this Research, See: Jeong, Y., Coyle, E. (2011). What Are You Worrying about on Social Networking Sites (SNSs)? Empirical Investigation of Young Social Networking Site Users’ Perceived Privacy.

Abstract: This study examines various aspects of privacy on social networking sites (SNSs). The findings indicate that young users are more concerned about the information they provide to traditional SNSs (Facebook) than microblogging sites (Twitter) and worry more about people with authoritative roles (authoritarian privacy) than those they know less about (distant relations). This study also examines the relationships between SNS privacy and SNS uses and between SNS privacy and privacy protection.

There's an App for That: The Ways Young Adults Access Digital Information

Student Researcher: Cydney Lauren Palmer (MMC)

Faculty Supervisor: Yongick Jeong

For a Complete Report of this Research, See: Palmer, C. (2011). There’s an App for That: The Ways Young Adults Access Digital Information. This is the author’s thesis.

Title: There’s an App for That: The Ways Young Adults Access Digital Information

Abstract: Despite the popular use of smartphones and mobile applications (apps) and their potential impacts in the near future, only scant academic attention has been paid to mobile apps, especially in respect to the gratifications sought from accessing digital information via apps. This exploratory study investigated the relationship between young adults and their use of mobile apps in accessing digital information, particularly in comparison to the current go-to digital information access device, Internet browsers. In addition, this study examined how levels of perceived privacy concern influence digital information use and how the use of digital information access modalities and the level of privacy concern interact in seeking digital information.

To examine these relationships, this study conducted an online survey with 201 young adults, and the data were analyzed using a two-way mixed repeated analysis of variance (ANOVA). The independent variables in this analysis were digital access modality (Internet browsers and mobile apps) and perceived personal privacy (high and low). The dependent variable in this study was digital information use, measured in five frequent purposes of accessing digital information: information, communication, convenience, entertainment, and commercial/purchase.

This study found significant main effects of digital access modality in using digital information. The results indicate that young adults are likely to use Internet browsers more than mobile apps for gratifying their purposes, except for a convenience purpose for which mobile apps were more likely used. However, the degree of perceived personal privacy was not found to be directly associated with the use of online information. Similarly, the interaction between digital information access modality and perceived privacy toward online information use was not significant across five purposes.

In summary, the use of mobile apps was surprisingly large, and the gap between the two digital accessing modalities was not remotely distant. Based on this finding, it can be projected that mobile apps will become a primary device for young adults to access digital information in the near future. Regarding perceived privacy, before concluding the given results, more research should follow to gain a better understanding of the role of perceived privacy in digital information use.