Fifth Brown Bag of the Semester – April 3, 2015


Rachelle Pavelko, PhD Student, and Jessica Gall Myrick, Assistant Professor, Media School

That’s so OCD: The effects of disease trivialization via social media on user perceptions and impression formation

Informal discussions of mental illness take place every day in social media. In the case of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), in particular, widespread use of the hashtag “#OCD” indicates that social media users often trivialize the disease. The present study used a 3 × 2 × 2 between-subjects fully factorial online experiment (N = 574, recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform) to test the impact of trivialized framing of this disease on perceptions of social media users who employ such language, as well as on perceptions of people with OCD as a group. Additionally, this study tested the effects of the gender of the Twitter avatar and self-identification in the avatar biography as an individual with OCD on these perceptions. Three-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) assessed the impact of the manipulations (i.e., content frame, gender of the avatar, self-identification with OCD). Results indicate that language use, gender, and self-identification influence impression formation in a social media environment.


Teresa Lynch, PhD Student, Jessica Thompkins, PhD Student, Irene van Driel, PhD Student, and Niki Fritz, MA Student, Media School

 An analysis of female game characters over time

A well-documented gender imbalance exists in the professional and fan culture of video gaming. For instance, women comprised only 22% of employees in the video game industry in 2014 and women report frequent instances of sexual harassment when playing online games. Critics have argued that one consequence of this gender imbalance is that male interests have guided the creation of video game content for over two decades. This presentation will share the results of an analysis of in-game content from video games released between 1983 and 2014 (n = 571). Analyzing content over time allowed us to determine how closely patterns of female character portrayals align with recent feminist movements in the industry (e.g. #1reasonwhy). These findings complement earlier analyses of video games by examining variables such as sexualization over time and expand on previous work in this area by considering the in-game, playable character as a unit of analysis.


The Refreshing Extra, Part II

By Mona Malacane

If you, by chance, missed the snazzy new fliers or the reminder email from Harmeet, there was the smell of fresh coffee and buzz of conversation to draw you into a standing-room crowd in Room 226 for the maiden Third Half.

The promise of superior coffee and non-routine refreshments – one of the signature changes from generic brown bags – was delivered in spades. The spread featured roasted and lightly salted almonds, fresh kale chips, skewers of grapes, olives, cherry tomatoes and cheese, and of course a hot cup of freshly brewed choice coffee (in the new Third Half mugs) from local barista Samuel Sveen. The pièce de résistance? A two-tiered double chocolate cake baked in the middle of the night by kitchen fairies, according to Betsi, and topped with a “1” candle. While saying a few words about the bright future of The Media School, Dean Shanahan lit the candle and guest speaker Kevin Coe blew it out.


From cake to speech to blowing out the candle.

Moderator Andrew Weaver kicked off the session by sharing the thinking behind the Third Half. “For those who don’t know, the Third Half is … a rugby term for the period after the game where the teams gets together, go to the local pub, and drink, and engage in some lively conversation. This is our attempt to bring the Media School together in an intellectual environment, and hopefully spark some creative ideas and intellectual conversation.”

speaker giving take

Kevin Coe explaining a pivotal moment in the history of presidential religious references.

After all of the pomp and circumstance, Kevin took us on an interesting walk through America’s political history, speaking about how presidents have evoked religious references in speeches and the multifaceted ways in which these references have appeared and changed over time. The talk was followed by questions from respondents – Lori Henson (Indiana State University and IU alum), Mike Conway (Journalism, Media School), Betsi Grabe (Communication Science, Media School), Liz Elcessor (Cinema and Media Studies, Media School) – and about 35 minutes of Q & A from the brimful room.

The stimulating conversation on religion and politics could have easily continued for another 30 minutes but Andrew gracefully ended talk with a thanks to Kevin and a crowd-pleasing invitation to stick around. “The Third Half cannot be held by the bounds of time but I recognize that some of you do have schedules so if you can, I would please invite you to stay. We have some delicious cake back there and plenty of coffee, thank you to Kevin and thank you all for coming.”

Whether it was the fantastic cake, the superior coffee, or the impenetrable maze of chairs, many of presentation go-ers did linger for continued conversation – perhaps we can call this post-talk lingering the Fourth Half?

To listen to this inaugural Third Half presentation, please go here. Stay tuned to the grad blog for information about future Third Halfs.

The Third Half, the refreshing extra

By: Niki Fritz

coe_flyerYou may have seen the snazzy-looking flyers around the Radio-TV building beckoning you to a new event, something called the Third Half on March 6 (2:30 – 3:45, RTV 226). The flyers promise stimulating discussion on politics and religion with Media School Guest Speaker Kevin Coe of University of Utah. There is also the lure of “non-routine refreshments and superior coffee.”  The Third Half sounds promising, and yet I couldn’t help wondering what a rugby-reference could possibly have to do with an academic talk.

It turns out the name comes from one memorable brainstorming session, which included the brilliant minds of Norbert, Julien, Paul, Andrew, Betsi, and Harmeet.  The group wanted to move away from the standard brown bag, with all of its ritualistic predictability, and into something more “non-routine.”

In keeping with this new ethos, there was a desire to move away from the name brown bag and other tired words.

“We were looking for a name that encompasses the spirit we want to give to the new speaker series. We don’t want it to be another brown bag. We want to move away from the traditional speech which is followed by a few very polite questions,” Julien says.“We want it to be something much more participatory. We see this as a community building activity not just a talk where you sit while sipping on a soda pop. We want to make intellectual socialization a robust experience. We were trying to find a title that encapsulates all of that.”

It seemed quite a tall order for one name to encompass community, participation, socialization, and liveliness. To prompt out of the box thinking, the brainstormers began with a different type of word – “huddle.” The “huddle” gave way to “scrimmage” and eventually Julien hit on the Third Half.  It comes from rugby, a game he followed avidly as a fan of championship-winning California Golden Bears during his days at UC-Berkeley.  In the world of rugby the “third half” is the time after the two halves of the game when the two sides come together at a public house in the spirit of camaraderie.

The new Third Half mugs which will hold outstanding coffee or other non-routine refreshments

Third Half mugs for superior coffee.

Given our dry campus, our Third Half will bring together colleagues over coffee and other non-routine refreshments.  There are even new coffee mugs bearing the jazzy new Third Half signature, which was the artistic creation of Norbert. While the brainstorming was still in full swing, Norbert sketched the Third Half signature on his iPad.  The brainstormers loved it right away, as it captured the mood and energy in the room.  Teresa then brought that energy to the image for email announcements and the flyers that doubled up as mini-posters.

The hope of the brainstormers is that the Third Half will not only bring people together, but also ideas; that this extra inning will create flashpoints of synthesis, when the team becomes greater than the individual players and the whole becomes greater than the sum of parts.

As of time of print, this illustrious group of brainstormers were not willing to talk about how the Third Half will “play out” so-to-speak.  They say you will have to see for yourself on March 6th.  The grad blog will be able to offer more only after the first Third Half on March 6th.

Fourth Brown Bag of the Semester – February 27, 2015

Julien Mailland, Department of Telecommunications, Media School

From two-sided pricing to gated communities: Welcome back to the eighties

In recent years, a number of internet service providers around the world have attempted to implement two-sided pricing models within the networks.  Under such models, ISPs would charge both the end-users for access to content of their choice, but also the content providers at stake for access to the end-users.  Content providers who would not pay would see their content either blocked by the last-mile ISP, or relegated to a slow lane called a “dirt road.”

So far, the economic and legal literature have focused on the negative implications of such models from the standpoint of innovation.  This talk takes a different perspective and argues that implementation of two-sided pricing models by retail, last-mile ISPs would lead to fragmentation of the Internet and the creation of gated communities at the level of each last-mile ISP implementing such model.  That situation would be reminiscent of the online landscape of the eighties, where users got on AOL, Compuserve, Prestel or Minitel, rather than on an interconnected network of networks.  I further argue that this is an undesirable outcome for two reasons.  First, such balkanization of the Internet would prevent users from reaping the benefits of network externalities that emerged when the Web drew people to the Internet.  Second, it would reduce the amount of information available to each user, which is a negative from the standpoint of the American political and international-relations theories of the marketplace of ideas and the free flow of information, both of which historically underpinned the development of the open, interconnected internet.

Second Brown Bag of the Semester – February 6, 2015


Mona Malacane, PhD student, and Sean Connolly, PhD Student, Department of Telecommunications, Media School

Women’s Role in Action Movie Trailers: A Content Analysis Examining Sexual and Agentic Portrayals, 1982-2013

A content analysis of 155 theatrical trailers for action movies was conducted to examine the frequency and nature of women’s role in promotional materials and how this role has evolved over the past 30 years. The results show that fewer women were included in early action movie trailers (i.e. before 2000). When women were observed in action movie trailers, they were often physically sexualized and, in later years, more likely to be shown participating in the action elements of the trailer. Female agency and physical sexualization peaked at the turn of the century and has been followed by several blockbuster female-lead action films. Implications for how women in action movie trailers can affect box office sales are discussed.


First Brown Bag of the Semester – January 23, 2015


Nic Matthews, PhD Candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Media School

Making Conflict/Cooperation

Human conflict and cooperation—although markedly different—can emerge from similar contexts. The current talk discusses how two branches of research seek to identify and understand the triggers that crystallize these opposing outcomes. One branch observes individual differences that influence aggression-related outcomes following violent video game play. The other branch investigates the reciprocal relationship between one’s moral cognition and the morally laden messages present in games.

Eleventh Brown Bag of the Semester – December 5, 2014


Ashley Kraus, PhD student, Department of Telecommunications, Media School

On the Street: A Content Analysis of Body Imagery in Streetstyle Fashion Blogs

Research on ideal body imagery in the mass media indicates that a curvaceously thin ideal is the norm for females and a lean, muscular ideal is the norm for males. Perhaps this finding has remained consistent due to the focus of body ideals in traditional media as opposed to new media. To date, relatively few studies have examined body types online. Streetstyle fashion blogs provide an opportunity to understand whether this media genre offers a healthy alternative to the lean, idealized images featured in traditional media because ordinary people (referred to as “pedestrian models”) are typically featured in lieu of traditional models. I will discuss the ways in which pedestrian models are portrayed in streetstyle blogs, especially in regards to: body size, body positioning, and facial prominence. I will also discuss the ways in which these portrayals are reinforced via reader commentary.


Nicole Martins, Assistant Professor, Department of Telecommunications, Media School

A Content Analysis of Teen Parenthood in ‘Teen Mom’ Reality Programming

Research suggests that sexual health messages embedded in entertainment programming may reduce sexual risk-taking. Entertainment media can promote positive health-related decisions because they overcome the resistance that viewers may have to overtly educational messages. In this talk, I will focus on the potential impact of two “edutainment” programs in particular: MTV’s 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom.  MTV and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy assert that these programs are a great “teaching tool” for teens about the consequences of unprotected sex and may be responsible for a decline in the teen birth rate. Yet existing research has found mixed support for this claim. I will discuss the ways in which teen pregnancy is portrayed in these programs, and the research that has examined whether exposure to these messages is related to adolescents’ pregnancy-related beliefs, attitudes and sexual behavior.