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Measuring Communication Concepts:
Conceptualization & Data Collection


Research Workshop of the Israel Science Foundation:

March 5 - 7, 2023 
University of Haifa

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Workshop Participants (in alphabetical order)


Eran Amsalem

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Eran Amsalem is a Lecturer (U.S. Assistant Professor) in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research examines the media coverage of politics and the way mass and interpersonal communications shape political attitudes. He is also interested in the communication, decision-making, and personality traits of political elites.

Kim Andersen

University of Southern Denmark

Kim Andersen is Associate Professor at the Centre for Journalism, Department of Political
Science, University of Southern Denmark, and Affiliated Researcher at the Department of
Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG), University of Gothenburg. His research
focuses on people’s news media consumption and its consequences for their political
knowledge, beliefs, and engagement. For more information see

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Meital Balmas


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Meital Balmas is a senior lecturer (US Associate Professor) in the Department of Communication at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Balmas is the recipient of various awards for her achievements in research, including Research grant from the German Israeli Foundation (GIF) Young Scientist program and The Alon Fellowships for Outstanding Young Researchers on the behalf of The Israeli academy of science. Her research interests include political communication, political psychology and public opinion. Her work has been published in several scholarly journals including American Journal of Political Science (AJPS), Journal of Communication (JOC), Communication Research, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB),  Human Communication research (HCR).

Christian Baden

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Christian Baden is an Associate Professor at the Department of Communication and Journalism, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His work focuses on understanding the dynamic process of meaning construction, consensus formation and contestation in public discourse, looking both from a conceptual and a methodological angle. He is chair of the European-wide network OPINION, which is dedicated to advancing the measurement of opinionated discourse.


Aviv Barnoy 

The University of Haifa

Aviv Barnoy is a postdoctoral researcher at The Department of Communication, University of Haifa. Barnoy studies epistemology of news on traditional and social media, as well as knowledge, trust and misinformation in a digital society. Barnoy published papers in leading communication journals (e.g., Communication Research, Digital Journalism, Public Relations Research etc.) as well as book chapters and other writings in non-academic national media. Barnoy's studies include a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods, including computational studies and industry collaborations. He lectures and writes on research methods from a critical perspective. In addition to his primary focus, Barnoy also teaches in the fields of strategic communication (PR, Crisis Communication and Social Marketing).

Lilly Boxman-Shabtay

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Lillian (Lilly) Boxman-Shabtai is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her work explores the various forces (text- and audience driven) that shape interpretation and meaning multiplicity in news discourse and in popular culture, with an emphasis on the digital interpretive traces that users leave behind in their engagement with media.

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Roei Davidson

University of Haifa

Roei Davidson, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the
University of Haifa. He studies how the Information Technology industry and the systems it develops – social media, artificial intelligence, digital finance – impact human autonomy and the distribution of capital.

Claes de Vreese

University of Amsterdam

Claes H. de Vreese is University Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Society (2021-), with a special focus on media and democracy at the University of Amsterdam. He holds the Chair in political communication at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research ASCoR. He is founding (2021) Scientific Director of the Digital Democracy Center at the University of Southern Denmark. He is member of the ICA Executive Committee and served as President 2020-21. His research interests include the role of automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence in democratic processes. This includes microtargeting, news recommenders, social media platforms, disinformation, comparative journalism research, the effects of news, public opinion and European integration. His research has been funded by several science foundation grants. He is recipient of the Swanson Career Achievement Award (ICA, 2018), the NeFCA Career Award (2019), and he is an elected Fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, the International Communication Association, and the Royal Holland Society of Sciences.

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Shira Dvir Gvirsman

Tel Aviv University

Shira Dvir Gvirsman (Ph.D. Hebrew University, 2011) is an associate professor at the Dan Department of Communication, Tel Aviv University. Her fields of interest are: news consumption practices and their implications on political behavior.

Andy Guess

Princeton University

Andy Guess is an assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. Via a combination of experimental and computational methods, he studies how people choose, process, spread, and respond to information about politics on the internet. His research has investigated the extent to which online Americans’ news habits are polarized, patterns in the consumption and spread of online misinformation, and the effectiveness of efforts to counteract misperceptions originating on social media. His research has been supported by grants from VolkswagenStiftung, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the U.S. National Science Foundation and published in peer-reviewed journals such as Science Advances, Nature, Human Behaviour, Political Analysis, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Andy is the founding co-editor, with Eszter Hargittai and Kevin Munger, of the Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media.


Elly Konjin

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Elly A. Konijn is full professor in Media Psychology, Department of Communication Science, VU University Amsterdam. She chairs the Media Psychology Program Amsterdam, integrating her multidisciplinary background in psychology, media studies, and computer science. Her research covers: 1) Relating to media figures, virtual humans, social robots; 2) Emotions and media-based reality perceptions; 3) Adolescents’ media use. In addition to numerous academic publications, including books and edited volumes, she presented her work in professional documentaries and was awarded many grants and prizes. She was chair of ICA’s Information Systems division and editor of Media Psychology.

Jürgen Maier

RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau 

Jürgen Maier is professor of Political Communication at the Department of Political Science at the RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau (Germany). His research focuses on the content and the impact of campaign communication.

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Michaela Maier

RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau 

Michaela Maier is professor of Communication Psychology at the RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau (Germany). She is interested in political communication and science communication.

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Dror Markus

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 

Dror Markus is a PhD student of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His main research interests are in media coverage, social media, public agendas and information-age politics. In his research, he employs a variety of computational methods, including machine and deep learning for natural language processing, network analysis and time-series analysis.


Patricia Moy

University of Washington

Patricia Moy (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) is the Christy Cressey Professor of Communication and Associate Vice Provost for Academic and Student Affairs at the University of Washington (USA). Studying communication influences on public opinion, she is a former president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, World Association for Public Opinion Research, and the International Communication Association, where she is also an elected fellow. 

Teresa Naab

University of Mannheim

Prof. Dr. Teresa K. Naab is a professor of digital communication at the University of Mannheim, Germany. She received her PhD from the University of Music, Drama and Media Hannover. She worked as a post-doc researcher at the University of Augsburg and as a visiting professor at the LMU Munich and the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. Her research interests include media use in digital media environments, user engagement in public communication spaces, digital literacy, and social science methods.


Lilach Nir

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Lilach Nir (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication)
holds a dual appointment as core faculty in the Department of Communication and
Journalism and in the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, Israel. She specializes in public opinion, mass media effects, and comparative political communication. Prof. Nir is a former Fulbright Fellow to the United States. She has served in the past on the International Communication  Association (ICA’s) Executive Board and as Editor-in-Chief of Oxford’s International Journal of Public Opinion Research. She is a member of the research publications evaluation taskforce, appointed by the
Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education in Israel. Her
publications include journal articles on public opinion perceptions, cross-national
differences in news exposure and its effects, and the contribution of political 

disagreement to opinion quality. Her work has appeared or is currently in press in PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Communication, American Political Science Review, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication,  and Communication Research.

Irene Razpurker-Apfeld

Zefat Academic College

Irene Razpurker-Apfeld (Ph.D., University of Haifa) is a senior lecturer in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at the Zefat Academic College. Her research employs experimental psychological methods to investigate issues in social cognition. Her recent publications include topics in embodied cognition and media psychology.


Sharon Ringel

University of Haifa

Sharon Ringel, is a lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa. Her studies focus on digitization processes of archival sources and the preservation of digital born materials, specifically, on the ways in which current archiving practices are implicated in the narratives we will be able to produce in the future.

Danit Shalev

University of Haifa

Danit Shalev is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Communication, University of Haifa.  Her dissertation research project focuses on understanding and improving over- and under-reporting of news media exposure, compared to automated data tracking and in particular on the role of motivational and cognitive factors in these phenomena. Danit is also familiar with these subjects from a practical point of view as a former VP marketing (Nestle) and as a Country Manager for Nielsen Israel.


Nurit Tal Or

University of Haifa

Nurit Tal-Or (Ph.D., University of Haifa) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa. Her research focuses on media psychology. Her work has been funded by The Israel Science Foundation and The Israeli Association for Research Funds and Education.

Keren Teneboim-Weinblatt

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt is a Professor at the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Communication. Her research is in the fields of political communication and journalism, with a particular interest in political forecasts and the role of the media in constructing collective pasts and futures. She is PI of the ERC-funded project “Mediating the Future: The Social Dynamics of Public Projections” (PROFECI).

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Yariv Tsfati

University of Haifa

Yariv Tsfati is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa and the co-EIC of Human Communication Research. His research focuses on various facets of public opinion, in particular on trust in media, the third person effect, and campaign effects. His research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation, the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the German-Israel Foundation, and other institutes. He received the Worcester Award for the year's outstanding paper published in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research from WAPOR (2004 and 2019), the ICA Outstanding Article Award (2016, with Nurit Tal-Or) and the 2017 Dennis McQuail Award (for the best article advancing communication theory, with Nurit Tal-Or), among other awards. Tsfati served as chair of the Political Communication Division of the International Communication Association, as editor for the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, and as Associate Editor for the Journal of Communication. Tsfati is also a Fellow of the International Communication Association.

Nathan Walter

Northwestern University

Nathan Walter is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at
Northwestern University. He is Founder and Co-Director of the Center of Media Psychology and Social Influence (COM-PSI) and a faculty member at the Center for Communication and Health (CCH), both at Northwestern. Walter’s research concerns the evaluation of health messages, correction of misinformation, and the role of emotion and affect in social influence. His studies have been published in a number of leading outlets, including the Journal of  Communication, Communication Research, Human Communication Research, and Communication Monographs. His most recent work, which is supported by the FDA, the Delaney Family Foundation, and the Peterson Foundation focus on novel methods to debunk misinformation and reduce health-related disparities.


Moran Yarchi

Reichman University

Moran Yarchi Ph.D. is an associate professor and the Head of the Digital Influence & Perceptions specialization at School of Communications, the Head of the Public Diplomacy program, a Senior fellow at the Abba Eban Institute for Diplomacy, and a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at Reichman University (IDC), Israel. Her main area of research is political communication, especially the media’s coverage of conflicts and terror, public diplomacy, and election campaigns.

Alon Zoizner

University of Haifa

Alon Zoizner is an assistant professor at the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa, Israel. His research bridges digital technologies, modern information environments, and current political developments, utilizing computational content analysis, experiments,
survey analysis, and elite interviews.


Workshop Schedule

Sunday, March 5, 2023

NB Haifa School of Design
9:00 - 10:00

Understanding and Improving Over- and Under-reporting of TV News Exposure
Danit Shalev and Yariv Tsfati, University of Haifa

10:15 - 10:45

Measuring Conflicts Framing: From Traditional to Social Media
Moran Yarchi, Reichman University

10:45 - 11:15

Are We Being Gaslighted by Tracking Data?
Shira Dvir Gvirsman, Tel Aviv University

11:30 - 12:30

Measuring Media Use In-Situ
Teresa Naab, Universität Mannheim

12:30 - 13:30


13:30 - 14:30

Implicit and Explicit Right-Wing Populism in Germany and Switzerland
Michaela Maier, RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau

14:45  - 15:45

Archiving Combined Web Tracking and Survey Data
Andy Guess, Princeton University

16:00 - 16:30

 Identifying and Exploring “Media Storms” in a Large News Corpus

Dror K. Markus, Effi Levi, Tamir Sheafer and Shaul R. Shenhav, Hebrew University

16:30 - 17:00

Newsworthiness Evaluations by Audiences Worldwide
Lilach Nir, Hebrew University, Stuart Soroka, University of California Los Angeles and

Patrick Fournier, Université de Montréal

Workshop Schedule

Monday March 6, 2023

Rabin Observatory, University of Haifa
8:30 - 9:30

News Avoidance: A Multi-Dimensional Audience Behaviour
Kim Andersen, University of South Denmark

9:45 - 10:45

Exposure: Dead or Alive?
Claes de Vreese, University of Amsterdam

11:00 - 11:30

Making Sense of Media (Mis)trust: Differentiating Skepticism and Cynicism
Yariv Tsfati and  Aviv Barnoy, University of Haifa

11:30 - 12:45

Lunch Break and University Tour

12:45 - 13:45

Measuring Key Concepts in Media Effects Research
Elly A. Konijn, VU University, Amsterdam

14:00  - 14:30

A Measuring Absence: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to the Study of
How Journalists Delete Online Discourse
Sharon Ringel and Roei Davidson, University of Haifa

14:30 - 15:00

Does Cross-Cutting Exposure on Social Media Fuel Political Incivility?

Alon Zoizner, University of Haifa 

15:00 - 20:30

Social Program - Trip to Akko & Dinner, (By invitation only)

Workshop Schedule

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

NB Haifa School of Design
9:00 - 9:30

Differentiating between Parasocial Interaction and Identification: Improved
Manipulation and New Measures
Irene Razpurker-Apfeld, Zefat Academic College and Nurit Tal-Or, University of Haifa 

9:30 - 10:00

Zelensky’s Warm War: The Effect of Ukrainian President’s Communal
Personality Traits on Empathy and Pro-Social Behavior towards the Ukrainians
Meital Balmas, Nitzan Attias, and Eran Halperin, Hebrew University

10:15 - 11:15

Communication Ecologies: Conceptualizing, Theorizing, and Analyzing Media
Exposure in an Information-Rich Environment
Nathan Walter, Northwestern University

11:30 - 12:30

Measuring  Candidate Attack Behavior. Is the Directional Concept of Negativity
Really that Bad?
Jurgen Maier, RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau and Alessandro Nai, University of Amsterdam

12:30 - 14:00


14:15 - 15:15

Does it Say That? Underdetermination in the Textual Measurement of Complex
Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt, Christian Baden and Lillian Boxman-Shabtai, Hebrew

15:30  - 16:00

Measuring Attitude Change in Persuasion Research

Eran Amsalem, Hebrew University

16:00 - 16:45

Conceptualizing and Measuring Communication Concepts: Concluding Remarks
Patricia Moy, University of Washington

Workshop Abstracts  

(appear in the order listed in the program) 

Danit Shalev & Yariv Tsfati, 
University of Haifa
Understanding and Improving Over- and Under-reporting of TV News Exposure

Ample research demonstrated that people overreport their exposure to news programs (Konitzer et al., 2021). The current presentation reports on five studies, designed to improve our understanding of the sources of this bias and address the challenge of improving news exposure measures, an effort that should arguably stand at the forefront of political communication research (Tewksbury et al., 2011). In Studies 1, 2 and 3, we manipulated the survey procedure to test cognitive and motivational explanations, and attempted to attenuate inflated reports of news exposure. While increasing or decreasing the anonymity of the survey (the ultimate test for social desirability) did not affect participants’ responses, a self-affirmation manipulation reduced reported exposure. A memory-aid manipulation also reduced reported television news exposure, suggesting that the cognitive mechanism possibly relates to memory failure. In Study 4, we investigated whether overreporting would be reduced when respondents were asked about watching less socially desirable television content, such as reality TV. Findings demonstrated that exposure to both news and reality TV programs is overreported in Israel. However, the fact that reported exposure to both genres is correlated with the perceived social desirability of the shows, and that those who regarded reality programs as socially undesirable underreported watching them strengthen the social desirability explanation. In Study 5, we tested the possibility that part of the explanation for the overreporting of TV news exposure is related to confusion about the source. According to this explanation, people watch news on various online platforms (e.g., mobile apps), but report that they watched news on television, because they perceive the experience or the institution as watching television news. Using mobile experience sampling data, we find evidence that, consistent with this explanation, while watching news on TV was

again overreported, audiences underreported their exposure to watching news programs on online platforms.

Moran Yarchi,
Reichman University
Measuring Conflicts Framing: From Traditional to Social Media

The conflict coverage scale, which measures the success of different sides in a conflict in promoting their messages, was found to be effective in the analysis of the traditional media’s coverage of conflicts. It takes into account the frames political actors are promoting and examines the media coverage while measuring the appearances of the messages promoted by both sides - reducing the number of messages of one side from the other, and providing a score that determines which side was more successful in promoting its narrative. The question this work in progress is dealing with is whether the same rational could work for the measurement of political actors’ success in promoting their narratives on social media, while taking into account various platforms with different characteristics (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, TikTok), and the mixture of official, institutionalized and individual posts published on social media.  

Shira Dvir Gvirsman,
Tel Aviv University
Are We Being Gaslighted by Tracking Data?

Measuring media exposure was always a challenge for researchers. In the last 30 years, many criticisms have been brought against self-report measures, highlighting biases caused by social desirability, self-affirmation, and cognitive difficulties. Today, the ever-growing complexity of media environment renders these issues even worse. Yet alongside the difficulties evolving technologies brought, they also offered a solution in the form of tracking data. Tracking data became in recent years the golden standard for media researchers interested in patterns of media consumption, especially political information. The purpose of this talk is to critically examine this trend from two angles: First, evaluating the merit of tracking data in comparison to previous methods. Second, to reflect on the ethical aspects of the scholarly use of such data. To evaluate the merit of tracking data, I offer a review of the literature and map research according to four key elements: Aggregation of data; time perspective; devices coverage; and platforms coverage. Based on a unique set of data collected from two Israeli samples (N=2,000; N=900) alongside evidence available from previous research, I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of tracking data with relation to these four coordinates. The accumulating data across studies suggest that much like self-report measures, tracing data contain many biases.  From an ethical perspective, I argue that when using tracking data, scholars de-facto legitimatize surveillance capitalism. Much like highly criticized companies such as Facebook, academic research directly or vicariously justifies personal data transformation into a commodity. To conclude, I suggest that we, as a field, have arrived at a point where we need to reflect on our methodological choices. I also argue that Krueger and Funders’ (2004) criticism of their own field (social psychology)  could serve as a helpful framework when we move forward with this discussion.   

Teresa Naab,
Universität Mannheim
Measuring Media Use In-Situ

Quantifying and explaining (mobile) media use is a central aim of communication research. Most researchers employ retrospective survey measures. They often assume a certain stability of media use across situations and focus on between-person differences. Other researchers rely on in-situ measurement (e.g. diary, ESM) and consider the situational (within-person) variation of media use. Empirical comparisons of both measurement approaches indicate discrepancies. However, the relative importance of personal vs. situational factors in explaining media use is unclear. A meta-analysis of studies with repeated in-situ self-report measures of media use analyses the share of media use that can be attributed to person- or situation-level factors. On average, roughly two-thirds of the variation in media use resides on the situation level; it is mostly independent of the targeted media behaviors but depends on the methodological design of the studies. The talk discusses the consequences for media use and effects theories as well as for measuring media use.

Michaela Maier,
RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau
Implicit and Explicit Right-Wing Populism in Germany and Switzerland

This study seeks to understand how right-wing populist attitudes relate to individuals’ political information consumption and selective exposure to ideological content. We conceptualize and measure RWP as a three-dimensional concept, explicitly and implicitly,based on online surveys and implicit association tests (IATs) in Germany and Switzerland,and assess individuals’ online behavior with tracking-data. Confirmatory factor analyses show that explicit populism, nativism, and authoritarianism establish the latent RWP-construct and that they are each related to their respective implicit counterpart. However, RWP ideology does not exist as an equally robust construct in the implicit realm as it does in the explicit realm. Resulting implicit-explicit incongruence is psychologically meaningful in that it is moderated by willingness to comply with perceived social norms. These ideological predispositions cause different effects on information usage in the two different national settings.

Andy Guess,
Princeton University
Archiving Combined Web Tracking and Survey Data

Web tracking data offer a wide range of research opportunities for communication scholars, especially if combined with survey data. At the same time, they bring their own set of challenges. This not only refers to the collection and analysis of the data but also to preservation and dissemination. Since web tracking data are a relatively new data type in the social sciences, the demand for information on how to process, document, store, and disseminate them has risen. We aim to address this by providing guidance for researchers and archivists who want to publish web tracking data, particularly when combined with survey data. Following these general considerations, we discuss existing disclosure risks in web tracking data and present an archival and publication framework. We conclude with a set of recommendations for best practice.

Alon Zoizner,
University of Haifa
Does Cross-Cutting Exposure on Social Media Fuel Political Incivility?

Exposure to diverse viewpoints is known for its potential to encourage political tolerance. Nonetheless, democracies in the digital age face an increase in political incivility, with social media discussions becoming more aggressive and vulgar. Thus, frequent exposure to cross-cutting users on social media might increase the likelihood of encountering uncivil, rather

than civil, arguments by the outgroup. This, in turn, can fuel citizens’ uncivil online behavior, turning cross-cutting exposure into a threat to intergroup relations. This project examines these issues by relying on Twitter data from Israel and a collection of random users, the

accounts they follow, and the tweets posted by every user. Initial results show that the more a user’s social network is composed of cross-cutting accounts, the more she posts uncivil content. Moreover, I introduce an initial measurement for potential exposure to incivility, comprised of the relative share of uncivil content in one’s social network. I find that users’

uncivil behavior is positively associated with potential exposure to incivility, thus implying that exposure to uncivil norms on social media can foster incivility.

Lilach Nir, The Hebrew University, Stuart Soroka, University of California Los Angeles & Patrick Fournier, Université de Montréal
Newsworthiness evaluations by audiences worldwide

Newsworthiness is an inter-subjective appraisal of news quality. There is a
professional agreement that news negativity is interesting and informative, but little is known on what is considered newsworthy by audiences worldwide. Do international audiences evaluate news stories similarly, or do they diverge in predictable ways? This question is of significance given the increasingly global reach of news content. In this talk, I will formulate and discuss competing theoretical expectations for audiences' divergence
in news evaluations worldwide, and report findings from multiple laboratory experiments collected from viewers in 17 countries across six continents.

Kim Andersen,
University of South Denmark
News Avoidance: A Multi-Dimensional Audience Behaviour

As an increasing number of people are turning their backs to mainstream news media, researchers are naturally also showing increasing interest for this audience behaviour. But while a growing number of studies examine the causes and consequences of news avoidance, questions remain on how to fundamentally understand this communication concept. This talk presents a multi-dimensional understanding of news avoidance, highlighting how this audience behaviour can be either intentional or unintentional in nature and consistent, occasional, or selective in scope. The character of and relationships between these dimensions as well as their relevance in relation to related concepts, such as news consumption and selective exposure, are discussed. The talk also presents a systematic literature review, highlighting which dimensions of news avoidance existing studies have focused on and which methodological approaches they have applied.

Claes de Vreese,
University of Amsterdam
Exposure: Dead or Alive?

Exposure to media and communication - that is “the extent to which audience members have encountered specific messages or classes of messages/media content” (Slater, 2004, 168) - is a crucial concept in studies of audiences and effects. Building on a collaborative book effort in its final stages, the presentation will focus on (1) the ways in which media and communication exposure (MCE) can be conceptualized and operationalized, (2) the ways in which MCE can be measured, their pros and cons, and performance, (3) how the concepts and measures are used in communication and social sciences, and (4) recommendations for the application and further development of these methods. 

Yariv Tsfati & Aviv Barnoy, University of Haifa
Making Sense of Media (Mis)trust: Differentiating Skepticism and Cynicism

Audience trust in the media has been a key variable in media research from its early days (Hovland & Weiss, 1951). While audience trust in media has been extensively studied, empirical research about audience trust is full of contradictions and puzzling findings. First, people's perceptions of bias in media are themselves biased (Gunther & Schmidt, 2004). Second, audience trust in media was found to be relatively unrelated to the performance of the media (Major & Atwood, 1994). Third, while rational audiences are expected to consume correct information from trustworthy sources, many people watch quite a bit of news without trusting the media, and many trusting audiences watch relatively little news (Tsfati & Cappella, 2003). Fourth and finally, research has demonstrated that many mistrusting audiences are still affected by news coverage despite their mistrust (Tsfati, 2003; 2003a).

In the current presentation, we report on to studies aimed to solve these conundrums by arguing that the measurement and conceptualization of trust in media in the extant literature conflates between two separable types of media mistrust: media cynicism (a disposition to believe that all news are untrustworthy) and skepticism (uncertainty about media reports based on the perception that media are sometimes wrong; see Cappella & Jamieson, 1996). We propose a methodology for distinguishing media skepticism and cynicism and will test the validity of these measures as distinct phenomena. In the second study, the democratic implications of cynicism and skepticism are explored by testing possible solutions to some of the puzzles in the field. Skepticism is hypothesized to be associated with normatively-desirable qualities (e.g., exposure to a diversity of news sources), and cynicism with undesirable qualities (e.g., cynics’ attitudes towards media will heavily rely on political ideology).

Elly A. Konijn,
VU University, Amsterdam
Measuring Key Concepts in Media Effects Research

Measuring theoretical constructs to analyse how media users process media content and how that may affect them, can be hazardous. This talk will address two key issues, one at the media exposure side and the other at the users’ side. Media exposure is commonly measured as frequency of exposure in hours per week/weekend and to various media channels. However, the specific content one is exposed to might be more decisive in sorting effects than just frequency. This will be discussed and exemplified with a measure including both, also addressing reliability and validity. The other issue concerns the users’ side because being involved while processing media content has been identified as key in sorting effects. However, an amalgamation of theoretical concepts (e.g., identification, empathy, transportation) blur measurements and theory building. Hence, such conceptualizations, operationalizations and implications for theorizing will also be discussed and illustrated.

Sharon Ringel & Roei Davidson
University of Haifa
A Measuring Absence: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to the Study of How Journalists Delete Online Discourse

Far from being a permanent record, social media platforms are malleable and erasable: both platforms and users regularly delete published content for various occupational, legal and personal reasons. Hence, differential deletion patterns lead to some voices - often more privileged than others - being preserved while others become publicly inaccessible. Social

media platforms have been for more than a decade a key distribution infrastructure for journalists and news organizations. They are often where journalists write the “first draft of the first draft of history"; (interviewee). Over the past 3 years, we have been examining multi-methodologically the deletion patterns and practices of American and Israeli journalists. Here, we will survey our conceptualization of deletion as a journalistic practice and discuss the various approaches we are using to measure this practice: semi-structured interviews with journalists, and automatic tracking of the posting and deletion behavior of journalists and news organizations on Twitter.

Dror K. Markus, Effi Levi, Tamir Sheafer & Shaul R. Shenhav,
The Hebrew University
Identifying and Exploring “Media Storms” in a Large News Corpus

Media storms - dramatic but temporary increases of media attention to an issue - are important components of the attention landscape, amplifying various media effects. Our current understanding of such phenomena is still limited: we lack a concrete operationalization of storms, as well as a systematic framework explaining the variance of such outbursts over time, space and political or media contexts. Such issues inspired us to adopt a ‘big-data’ approach - utilizing a corpus of 22 years of news coverage to
comprehensively explore such phenomena. In this workshop, we describe the challenges in
 operationalizing storms, before outlining our utilization of state-of-the-art computational methods to explore dynamics of media attention. Specifically, we utilize a variety of document embeddings to measure media dispersion, together with community detection methods to uncover stories, entities and topics associated with storms. Finally, we show how our empirical findings point to a nuanced understanding of the concept.

Irene Razpurker-Apfeld, Zefat Academic College & Nurit Tal-Or,
University of Haifa
Differentiating between Parasocial Interaction and Identification: Improved Manipulation and New Measures

Both parasocial interaction and identification involve liking media characters. However, in parasocial interaction the character is perceived as a person with whom the viewer interacts, while in identification the viewer merges with the character. We aimed to empirically differentiate between these concepts by suggesting an improved manipulation and innovatively-adapted measures. Participants were randomly assigned to watch one of three clips in which the protagonist’s mode of address was manipulated. They were then asked to report their perceptions regarding their immediate environment, and their involvement with the media character. As expected, directly addressing the audience increased parasocial interactions but not identification, and addressing a visible partner increased identification but not parasocial interactions. Moreover, only for stronger parasocial interactions, was the room perceived to be noisier, warmer and more crowded. Thus, people experiencing parasocial interactions, but not identification, feel as if there is another person in their room interacting with them.

Meital Balmas, Nitzan Attias, & Eran Halperin, 
Hebrew University
Zelensky’s Warm War: The Effect of Ukrainian President’s Communal Personality Traits on Empathy and Pro-Social Behavior towards the Ukrainians

The war between Russia and Ukraine is not only over territory or security but also over public opinion. Research has shown that national leaders can leverage their personality – in a general, positive sense – to arouse, in people living beyond their countries’ borders, emotions of empathy or pro-social reactions towards their countries’ citizens. We focus on the personality of Ukrainian President Zelensky and examine which of his personality traits can promote empathy and pro-social behavior towards Ukrainians. In two experimental studies, conducted in Israel and in the U.S., we found that exposure to a news article that highlights Zelensky’s communal traits (warmth or morality), as compared to his agentic traits (competence or determination), led to (a) increased levels of empathy towards Ukrainian citizens, (b) willingness to help them, and (c) an actual monetary donation for their benefit. We end by discussing the theoretical and practical implications of the findings. 

Nathan Walter,
Northwestern University
Communication Ecologies: Conceptualizing, Theorizing, and Analyzing Media Exposure in an Information-Rich Environment

As social media and their users continue to evolve, researchers face an ongoing challenge of keeping theoretical and methodological pace with its everchanging affordances, architecture, as well as the positive and negative effects (Fox & McEwan, 2020). Indeed, many questions about

the relationship between exposure to information on social media and adoption of accurate and false beliefs remain unanswered (Stoycheff et al., 2017). Building on insights from media system dependency (MSD; Ball-Rokeach & DeFleur, 1976) and communication infrastructure theory (CIT; Kim & Ball-Rokeach, 2006), I introduce a novel concept and method with the potential to conceptually and methodologically transform how researchers and practitioners study exposure to information in an information-rich environment. Along with its ecological and multilevel nature, the hallmark of this approach is the ability to identify combinations of sources that contribute to the formation of accurate and inaccurate beliefs, as well as cross-cutting sources, or those that both augment and attenuate belief accuracy.

Jurgen Maier, RPTU Kaiserslautern-Landau & Alessandro Nai, University of Amsterdam
Measuring Candidate Attack Behavior. Is the Directional Concept of Negativity Really that Bad?

The generally accepted directional approach to measuring negative campagning has been criticized from various sides. At the core of the critique is the claim that scientists have a completely different idea of what negativity is than voters and politicians. The impairment of the validity of the measurement, the further argument goes, is responsible for the fact that the findings on the effect of negativity are so inconclusive. This presentation explores whether the described mismatch between academia and the public's understanding of negative campaigning can also be observed based on data collected primarily outside the United States. Our findings do not suggest that this is the case; reliability and validity of the concept appear to be high. Conclusions and recommendations for future research on NC are formulated from the findings. 

Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt, Christian Baden & Lillian Boxman-Shabtai,
The Hebrew University
Does it Say That? Underdetermination in the Textual Measurement of Complex Constructs

Texts rarely explicate meanings in ways that speak directly to measured constructs. Instead, textual measurement typically relies on inferencing and interpretation rules, which introduce subjectivity and disagreement. Especially where measured constructs are complex, breaking these down into more concrete contents can help establish reliable measurement – a strategy that is, however, not free of risks. In this presentation, we draw upon three ongoing projects –measuring future-oriented projections, conspiracy theories, and political criticism, respectively– to highlight two critical limitations in the measurement of complex textual meanings: On the one hand, we illuminate both methodological challenges and validity problems in the inferential recognition of meanings from measured components. On the other hand, we show how texts often offer insufficient evidence to decide between competing readings, raising the challenge of meaning multiplicity. Reviewing available strategies for recognizing and tackling these challenges, we propose a research agenda into the measurement of underdetermined textual meanings.

Eran Amsalem,
The Hebrew University
Measuring Attitude Change in Persuasion Research

In the persuasion literature, attitudes are defined as a broad, multidimensional, and enduring construct. However, almost all experiments exploring when and how attitudes change (1) expose study participants to a single message and (2) present that message only once. In this talk, I will argue that the gap between how attitudes are defined and the way attitude change is operationalized is detrimental to both theory building and the practice of persuasion. Theoretically, the predominant designs adopted in the literature fail to take into account that persuasion is not an event but rather a process—one that is cumulative, incremental, and longitudinal. From a practical perspective, this gap may lead communicators to erroneously conclude that attitude change is impossible even in contexts where it is, in fact, likely—given that the right “mix” of messages is presented to people over a long enough period of time. The talk will define the problem, present examples from published research, and propose a variety of research designs that better mimic the complex nature of persuasion in the real world.

Measuring Communication Concepts:
Conceptualization & Data Collection


Measuring Communication Concepts Workshop


March 5 -7, 2023


University of Haifa, Israel & NB Haifa School of Design 

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