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Tomorrow is Super Tuesday - do you feel pressure to vote?

featured / voting / elections / public perception / social psychology

The New York Times wrote recently about so called "vote shaming" mailers that had been sent to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire by one of the Republican candidates (or their surrogates). These mailers show the voting record of the individual and their neighbors and inform the recipient that an updated mailing will be sent after the election showing who voted and who did not. The idea is that a person will be motivated to vote to avoid a perception of dereliction of duty by members of their community.

Without wading into the politics of the issue - whether a political candidate should send out the exact fliers that have been sent to voters - it is interesting to consider the... more

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Deadpool not the only antihero in town - Communication's role in the Zika virus narrative

featured / communication research / public health / advertising

"Surprise, this is a different kind of superhero story." Deadpool. There's just something about an R-rated, violent, off-color, superhero movie that screams: risk communication and public health. No, it's just me?

Everyone has a favorite antihero though. Same story (even if self-mocking), different kind of character. Communication too can find itself unexpectedly taking center stage in public health crisis response narratives often dominated by medicine and natural sciences. For example, communication was a theme of last year's WHO leadership statement on the Ebola response.

We have learned the importance of communication - of communicating risks early, of communicating more clearly what is needed, and of involving communities and their leaders in the messaging…We will communicate better. We commit... more

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From "Netflix & Chill Night" to StonerSloth - The Road to (Messaging) Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

featured / communication research / public health / advertising

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes bad things happen to good causes. One day you're celebrating a new campaign and the next you're pulling an ad after a segment on the Daily Show calls attention to the inherent (or sometimes unanticipated) risk associated with the messaging strategy.

Daily Show Don't Jerk

Take last week for example. Suddenly everyone seemed to be as enthusiastic about alcohol messaging as we are. A recently released infographic intended to raise awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders had struck a chord - but, unfortunately as it turned out, not in a good way. Reactions like shaming, shady, scare tactics, condescending, and offensive certainly would have been red... more

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Spreading the Word… Not the Zika Virus- Tips from Health and Risk Communicators

featured / communication research / public health / risk communication

If you've seen the news lately (or Twitter for that matter) you've probably heard about what the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling a public health emergency - a mosquito-borne illness called the Zika virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and until recently, outbreaks have mostly occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. However, a recent "explosion" of infections in parts of Latin America - as well as a reported linkage between the virus and a severe birth defect known as microcephaly - has caught the attention of the world.

On Monday, the Director-General of the WHO urged... more

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On Socks and Social Marketing - Honoring World AIDS Day

communication / communication research / featured / public health

More than 30 years since the first reported cases of AIDS, what does progress look like?

From its origins in fear and death, HIV has become a preventable, treatable, and hope-filled chronic illness. Though there has been significant progress both scientifically and socially, there is clearly much progress to be made – HIV is a leading cause of death by infectious disease, and fear, misperceptions, and stigma are still a very real challenge.

Take, for example, the media stir last month when Charlie Sheen revealed on the Today Show that he is HIV-positive. Sheen shared that he decided to make his health status public because recent partners allegedly threatened to disclose his diagnosis, blackmailing him for millions of dollars. His situation – and... more

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Designing for Behavioral Change

behavioral change / qualitative research / user experience / featured

A few years ago, I was shopping for a birthday card for a good friend - a fellow psychology nerd, I should add - and after sifting through hundreds (no exaggeration!) of contenders, I finally stumbled across "the one". The front read, "How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?" and inside was the classic "…Just the one, but the bulb has to really want to change. Happy Birthday!" I remember chuckling to myself and ending my search there, knowing (or at least hoping) my friend would appreciate my find. Looking back though, a thought occurs to me - good thing she wasn't studying to become a behavioral scientist!

While intrinsic motivation is certainly influential and at the core of many behavior... more

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