Ongoing projects

Experimental studies on the evolutionary roots of gossip. Neuroendocrine, psychophysiological and psychological effects of gossip on stress. 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

Gossip is a universal social behavior proposed to serve a central role in the evolution of human sociality. Gossiping promotes in-group cooperation, trust, formation of new social bonds and maintenance of the existing ones. As a result gossip was suggested to serve a similar role in humans that social grooming serves in other primates. Social grooming strengthens in-group ties, but also helps with the stress of group living by lowering the levels of stress hormones and alleviating the activity of stress-inducing physiological systems. The hypothesis that gossip serves similar functions as grooming is alluring, however, no research so far had investigated if it really has similar physiological effects. Gossip is often said to be stress-relieving, but there is no data to support that claim. The purpose of this study is to fill that gap and answer the question if gossip lowers physiological stress levels. In two experimental studies and one correlational study we will investigate relationships between gossip and: non-social stressors, social stressors and stressors in the workplace. Physiological stress levels will be measured with state-of-the art biological markers: cortisol levels, beta-endorphin levels, electrodermal activity and heart rate variability. Additionally, subjective perceptions of stress in the study participants will also be measured with psychometric questionnaires in order to gather a complete picture of psycho-socio-biological effects of gossiping.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

BOF Sabbatical 2021-2022 - Heidi Vandebosch. 15/09/2021 - 14/09/2022

Abstract

During my sabbatical I plan to devote my time to the ongoing research projects that I am currently (co-)supervising, and often involve international and/or interdisciplinary collaborations. These projects try to extend our current knowledge 1) on evidence-based technological interventions to tackle online aggression and 2) on evidence-based technological interventions to address mental and physical health issues. Apart from that, I plan to 3) co-edit a book on Health Communication and 4) follow-up on other projects (related to eudaimonic media use, vaccine hesitancy and teacher interventions to tackle traditional bullying) and initiate new research (on digital disconnection, boredom and mobile phone use).

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

CC-Driver: Understanding the drivers of cybercriminality, and new methods to prevent, investigate and mitigate cybercriminal behaviour (H2020 project). 23/04/2021 - 31/10/2021

Abstract

The project investigates the modalities of cybercrime and connections with other criminal activities. Tools are developed for Law Enforcement Agencies to take into account these modalities, to help prevent and/or mitigate the impact of criminal acts and assist the understanding of cybercrime behaviours to enable prevention and law enforcement.​​​ By conducting a survey in 8 countries, the project will determine predictors of new forms of cybercriminality. We specifically focus on understanding factors that determine the following criminal behaviours: hacking, hate speech, digital piracy and image-based sexual abuse. An online tool will be created that young people and organisations can use to assess their vulnerability to cybercrime. We will create an online assessment/awareness/educational tool for youth, parents/caregivers/educators and other stakeholders. A self-assessment questionnaire will be developed for organisations and others to check their vulnerability to cybercrime attacks.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Meat, Men & Masculinities: how social media and interpersonal communication processes shape the connections between masculine identities and meat consumption. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

Although an over-consumption of meat relates to health- and sustainability problems, many people, men in particular, eat more meat than recommended. An underlying cause of men's over-consumption of meat may be the widespread belief that "real men eat meat". This belief fits hegemonic, patriarchal views on masculinity, but does not fit newer, more inclusive forms of masculinity. Newer forms of masculinity are gaining momentum, and at the same time also meatless diets seem to be on the rise. The general scope of this project is to study potential connections between (not) eating meat and beliefs about masculinity. In concrete terms, we will study: (1) how social media portray meat, men and masculinities; (2) investigate if and how men's decision to (not) eat meat relates to interpersonal processes of othering and polarization; and (3) study how meat, men and masculinities intersect on the cultural, interpersonal, and individual level of food choice behavior. Quantitative and qualitative content analyses will be used to study (1) Instagram and Twitter content about meat and masculinities. Experiments with self-report and psycho-physiological measures will be used to study: (2) interpersonal processes of distancing, othering and tension-relief, and (3) the effect of social media content and interpersonal interactions on men's choice to eat or not to eat meat. The outcomes may offer timely and necessary solutions to assist avid male meat eaters to reduce their meat intake.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Cyberviolence: defining borders on permissibility and accountability (@ntidote 2.0). 15/12/2020 - 15/03/2023

Abstract

The 4th industrial revolution resulted in a new billion-dollar industry with a group of globally operating internet service providers (ISPs) in charge of what we daily see on social media, how we communicate, what information we will read on the basis of chosen algorithms. These ISPs often act as intermediaries enabling the sharing of content rather than creating content themselves. Therefore, under the current legal framework of e-commerce ISPs are not required to actively react against illegal or harmful content. The reasoning goes that only the users responsible for the content should be targeted to ensure the free flow of e-communication, e-commerce, the freedom of information and expression. This paradigm has been put in question due to the evolution of the internet as a platform for spreading hate, violence and crime. Cyberviolence is a specific part of this harmful online conduct, whereby digital action results in physical, sexual, psychological and/or economic harm or suffering of individuals. ISPs are already acting against harmful content if they are notified and some ISPs go a step further in self-regulating. Yet, this is often considered unsatisfactory. Therefore, NGOs, national and EU authorities currently discuss whether the exemption of liability for ISPs in the light of cyberviolence is still justified and whether authorities should not step in further. The project examines to what extent the current approach on cyberviolence is effective or needs further improvement. It focuses on two types of cyberviolence, online hate speech and non-consensual distribution of intimate images (NCII) or image-based sexual abuse. While existing legal and judicial tools are being scrutinised by Belgian and European authorities to better fight these forms of cyberviolence, a thorough understanding of these phenomena and their prevalence is still lacking, especially in Belgium. Therefore, this project in the first place wants to understand these phenomena in Belgium through qualitative research focusing on how users, moderators of ISPs and stakeholders delineate online hate and NCII and the permissible or harmful nature of such content. Based on these results, quantitative research will map the prevalence of the phenomena in Belgian society with a focus on digital natives. Moreover, victims' coping behaviors, their use of and trust in reporting mechanisms of several instances, will be assessed. In the second place it will be considered whether and how these phenomena can be tackled by legal and/or judicial response, building on current practices and the outcomes of the qualitative and quantitative research. The remedies against harmful content will be counterbalanced against the freedom of information and expression within the framework of the digital market. This includes the assessment of the role of public authorities and ISPs discussing whether new balances and legislative action are required. The research is intrinsically multi-disciplinary as it approaches the phenomena from the perspective of social sciences, criminology, anthropology, and legal sciences. Within the work packages the respective disciplines will interact to acquire in-depth, multi-faceted knowledge of both phenomena. Apart from the scientific output, the project intends to offer policy-makers and stakeholders a clear understanding of the phenomena for future initiatives and action, as well as to provide input on how to further develop the e-commerce framework taking into account the impact of cyberviolence.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Meat, Men & Masculinites: How the (non) consumption of meat relates to personal, interpersonal, and cultural communication, focusing on connections between "meat", "men" and "masculinity". 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2024

Abstract

Food is about nutrition and health as much as it is about communication. The food choices we make relate to our identity, our interactions, and our culture. While research on food and health is abundant, research into food as a process of communication remains scarce. Charlotte De Backer fills this niche with her research (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/projects/food-media-society/). At current De Backer and colleagues mainly look at how to effectively communicate about food (cSBO InFlOOD, FWO project, VLAIO- Meat The Challenge). The focus of the running projects is on how communication influences food consumption behavior. The goal of this Meat, Men & Masculinities proposal is to also study how food choices influence communication. The starting point of this proposal is the widespread cultural belief that "real men eat meat", and the growing resistance towards this idea. Together with Gaëlle Ouvrein, De Backer is currently conducting pilot studies that show that meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans stereotype each other and react to bashing comments in ways that ache towards polarization, especially among male populations. Ouvrein, an international expert in (celebrity) bashing behavior is therefore co-supervisor of this proposal. Departing from the socio-ecological model, this Meat, Men & Masculinities project will study how choices to eat or not to eat meat interact with communication processes at the level of (1) the individual, (2) interpersonal interactions and (3) culture. First, at the level of the individual, it is well known that, compared to women, men have stronger pro-meat attitudes that manifest at both explicit rational- and implicit, unconscious levels. We have recently shown, however, that not all men are alike, and that differences in masculine identities predict differences in men's explicit attitudes towards meat consumption. The question that will be addressed in this proposal is if similar differences in masculinities can also predict differences in attitudes and motives at unconscious, implicit levels. Implicit attitudes and motives are less prone to cultural change, but if these can be changed, they offer a more powerful and sustainable end goal for interventions. Second, at the level of culture, mass media messages about food increase in number every day. Research has shown that mass media reinforce beliefs like "real men eat meat", but these studies are outdated and scant attention has been paid to online media messages about Meat, Men & Masculinities. We thus aim to study if and how current print- and online media frame factual information about Meat, Men & Masculinities. To narrow down online media, we will focus on Instagram and Twitter, known for their abundant, and often outspoken messages about food. Third, focusing on the interpersonal level, it is known that meat is a moralizing topic, and there are assumptions that meat polarizes people into those who do and do not eat meat. We plan to empirically investigate if this is the case, and how this in the end also relates to communication at the individual and cultural level. For all this, we plan to adopt a holistic multimethod approach. Quantitative and qualitative content analyses will be used to study media messages about Meat, Men & Masculinities. Self-report (online) surveys will be combined with psychophysiological measures to investigate how men self-identify in relation to meat, react to (social) media messages about meat, and interact with meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans. In the end the outcomes of this project will lead to a profound understanding of how a seemingly simple choice to "eat or not to eat meat" operates as an important message at the level of personal, interpersonal and cultural communication. This knowledge will have the potential to impact communication strategies of health professionals and marketeers that urgently look for solutions to convince avid (most often male) meat eaters to reduce their meat intake.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Towards effective radiation protection based on improved scientific evidence and social considerations - focus on radon and NORM (RadoNorm). 01/09/2020 - 31/08/2025

Abstract

RadoNorm is designed to initiate and perform research and technical development in support of European Union Member States, Associated Countries and the European Commission in their efforts to implement the European radiation protection Basic Safety Standards. The proposed multidisciplinary and inclusive research project will target all relevant steps of the radiation risk management cycle for radon and NORM exposure situations. RadoNorm aims to reduce scientific, technical and societal uncertainties by (i) initiating and performing research and technical developments, (ii) integrating education and training in all research and development activities, (iii) and disseminating the project achievements through targeted actions to the public, stakeholders and regulators. This will strengthen the scientific and technical basis for all key steps of the radiation risk management cycle for radon and NORM. The inclusive character of RadoNorm is given at different levels, by (i) targeting research and development on all steps of the management cycle, (ii) combining biomedical, and ecological research with mitigation development and social science research, (iii) integration of researchers from national radiation protection institutions, research centres, universities, and SME, (iv) incorporation of E&T activities in all undertakings, and (v) linking dissemination efforts directly to knowledge achievements and new recommendations. Steps addressed are the (a)characterization of radon and NORM exposures, (b)improving dosimetry, (c)assessing effects and risks for humans and the environment, (d)refining mitigation technologies, (e)raising the understanding for societal aspects, and (f)disseminating achievements. Further, an ambitious pan European E&T programme, will contribute to competence building and sustainability of the project findings. The project includes 56 partners from 22 EU member states and associated countries and collaboration with groups in the US and Canada.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Network of Excellence of Training on HATE (NETHATE). 01/09/2020 - 31/08/2024

Abstract

The vision for the NETHATE (Network of Excellence of Training on HATE) ETN is to bring together an interdisciplinary team of world-leading European researchers to tackle a highly ambitious and relevant research project on the nature of hate. It will also examine the dynamics of its spread in both offline and online fora, mitigation and reconciliation strategies, and the impact on victims and bystanders. The research and training programme will deliver doctoral training of 15 ESRs and highimpact research outputs. The complementary research skills and training expertise within this inter-sectoral ETN will ensure that the ESRs trained will become Europe's next generation of researchers, teachers and practitioners in understanding the roots and impacts of hate, as well as mitigation strategies, which will support the development of a sustainable democratic culture across the EU. The participation of 10 universities and 1 NGO as the network Beneficiaries and 14 Partner organisations (2 Ministries, 2 companies and 10 NGO's) all deeply involved in this area will ensure that the ESRs acquire a broad and deep multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral training and experience that will make them highly marketable and sought after graduates.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Large-scale study on sexting and cyber dating abuse among sexual minority youth and adolescents of different age groups. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

This study is an extension of my postdoctoral project and aims to investigate two digital public health risks for youth: 1) cyber dating abuse and 2) sexting. Cyber dating abuse is the controlling, stalking and harassing of a romantic partner through digital media. Sexting is the exchange of sexually explicit pictures. Large scale survey research is needed to gain a better theoretical understanding of these behaviors. For this project we will conduct a large-scale qualitative and quantitative study on cyber dating abuse and sexting. The data provide invaluable insights for the prevention of these digital forms of violence among sexual minority youth and for the development of age-appropriate educational efforts.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Can teachers reduce school bullying and its mental health consequences? Randomized controlled trial with an intervention promoting positive teacher-student interactions. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Being bullied at school seriously undermines mental health on the short and long run. Teachers have the potential to be key players in preventing and reducing bullying through their daily interactions with students and their reactions to bullying. However, many teachers do not fully assume this role. This randomized controlled trial study aims at investigating whether a straightforward intervention focused on teachers' general interactions with students and their specific interventions in bullying situations 1) impacts teacher cognitions, e.g., promotes anti-bullying attitudes, 2) promotes positive teacher-student interactions and teachers' effective reactions to bullying incidents, 3) reduces student bullying, and 4) promotes (victimized) students' mental health. Ten schools, 60 teachers and 1200 students from Grade 4-6 are recruited. Schools are randomly assigned to an intervention condition and a control condition. Teacher and student reports are administered pre- and posttest and data are analyzed with An(c)ova and multilevel modelling. This study contributes to 1) the very scarce experimental evidence and theory-building about teachers' influence on student bullying and victims' mental health and 2) the availability of effective, feasible, and scalable interventions for reducing bullying at school and promoting children's mental health.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Nethate: developing online tools to prevent and counter online hate speech and support victims. 01/12/2019 - 30/11/2021

Abstract

This project aims to extend our current knowledge on online hate speech interventions, by investigating how technological tools can be used to 1) prevent or counter online hate speech and 2) reduce the impact of online hate speech on victims.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Stakeholders marketing for online news media. A multi-method research into stakeholder marketing as a strategic framework for news media to build a sustainable business model with its key stakeholders (advertisers and readers). 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

The digitalisation of news has put the news ecosystem under pressure. External stakeholders (e.g. readers, advertisers) are redefining their relationship with the news medium, destabilizing the dominant revenue model. Readers are no longer willing to pay for news and advertisers are turning to other digital players (Facebook and Google) to spend their ad dollars. These changes create tensions and many news media consider scale as the only way to survive, but most news media won't be able to reach this. Therefore, this multi-method project wants to investigate stakeholder marketing as a strategic framework for the news industry to deconstruct the dominant business model, resolve tensions and help build strong and lasting relationships with key stakeholders (readers and advertisers) to help keep news sustainable in the long run. We use both qualitative (interviews, case studies, focus groups) and quantitative (experiments, survey) methods to study the ecosystem, the relationships between stakeholders and the effect of stakeholder marketing on multidisciplinary teams at the news organisation.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

In the Spotlight: The Effects of Celebrity Bashing on (young) Bystanders and Victims. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

This project covers a study on a very specifc, though, prominent type of online aggression: Celebrity bashing. Celebrity bashing refers to the negative and scandal-inspired way of commenting toward and about celebrities, and can be performed by journalists, the audience and other celebrities. This project aims to enrich our knowledge on this phenomenon by investigating both the perspective of adolescent perpetrators as well as the perspective of celebrity-victims. On the side of the perpetrator, we will investigate the causal link between being a bystander of the different types of celebrity bashing and becoming a perpetrator and the underlying processes that might explain this association (mediators), and contextual factors (i.e., type of the perpetrator, type of the involved celebrity) moderating this association (moderators). This will be guided by the General Aggression Model (GAM). On the side of the celebrity-victim, we will investigate celebrities' feelings and coping strategies when being confronted with bashing. This project will increase our insights on the impact of celebrity bashing on adolescents and celebrities, and thus provide evidence for the development of effective prevention and intervention initiatives.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Brands bringing the news: readers' evaluations of native advertisements in online news media. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

News media are being challenged by the rapidly changing digital environment. Traditional online banner advertisements are nowadays often being avoided, or disabled by ad blockers. To counteract advertising avoidance, and create new revenue streams, so-called 'native advertising' is on the rise. Native advertisements are advertisements with the look and feel of editorial news articles. Although native advertising is the fastest growing advertising format in online news media, little is known about how news readers perceive and evaluate native advertising. Native advertising may be problematic if readers are not able to recognize that they are influenced. Also, the credibility of news media is at stake. In order to implement native advertising in a sustainable and ethically responsible manner, more research is needed. Therefore, this project will investigate native advertising by taking a unique multi-stakeholder approach, integrating theories from the fields of advertising and journalism. A series of experiments will be conducted to investigate how readers process and evaluate different types of native advertisements and news media. In addition, news media's perspective will be explored by conducting interviews at news organizations. The main objective is to unravel when and how readers recognize native advertising and how they deal with it. This will result in a theoretical and practical framework for implementing native advertising in news media, in a responsible manner.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

inFLOOD: A study about the influence of food media on food consumption patterns in Flanders. 01/01/2019 - 31/03/2023

Abstract

The scientific goal of InFlOOD is to understand how food media (i.e. all mass communication about food with the exception of traditional advertising campaigns and information/ health campaigns) influence food consumption in Flanders. The abundance of often contradictory and non-evidence-based media reports about nutrition are causing confusion. In this context, it is quite a challenge for the food industry and health organizations to communicate effectively about nutrition guidelines. Our goal is to learn from the growing group of highly successful food influencers how we can better communicate about food and nutrition. As a group of academics, health organizations, food producers and media, we want to produce positive, powerful evidence-based messages about nutrition. The concrete goals of InFlOOD are: 1. Starting from an in-depth historical analysis to study the content of popular food media in relation to the Flemish food consumption figures, 2. Zoom in on the role of celebrity status of popular food influencers, 3. Developing communication strategies that use the discourse of the most influential food gurus (how to communicate) applied to evidence-based information (which message) about nutrition (guidelines), and 4. Setting up an independent communication platform on food and nutrition that refers to the various expert bodies. The valorization of the project will be achieved via three routes: Route 1: Produce evidence-based output on the influence of food media on Flemish food consumption Route 2: Setting up a platform that forms the bridge between the food and media industry Route 3: Setting up an independent communication platform on food and nutrition that brings the consumer to the competent experts. This project has three different stakeholder groups, each with their own motivation to participate in this project: The food industry is presented with communication challenges such as keeping up with the new era of digital marketing (social media, food influencers), and refuting the flow of negative and often erroneous messages about nutrition that appear in the media. The food marketing and media industry are struggling to get their message to the consumer in these times of abundant communication about food. Health organizations are asking for more insight into how they should communicate dietary guidelines to consumers. In these internet-connected times, consumers are more directly informed and the health professionals who used to act as intermediaries to explain and frame messages are increasingly skipped

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The use of online personal narratives to improve adolescents' coping with psychological distress. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Adolescence is a life phase characterised by increased stress and negative emotions. Therefore, developing the right skills to cope with this stress is vital for adolescents. This research project seeks to uncover how sharing, reading of and responding to online personal narratives enable adolescents to better cope with stress. We conduct an online survey with adolescent users of online support group fora to investigate how online personal narratives can help adolescents to cope with stress, and to determine which adolescents benefit the most from these online personal narratives. Moreover, we set up three experimental studies to examine how the interface design of an online support group forum can increase the beneficial effects of online personal narratives. This research project provides a theoretical contribution to the field of health communication, by combining insights in the power of narratives and the design of communication technologies. Results from this project also provides youth helpline and mental health organisations with recommendations in order to empower adolescents in coping with stress.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Cyber dating abuse among early adolescents: Towards a comprehensive understanding of monitoring behaviors and sexting under pressure. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

The electronic delivery of both psychological and sexual forms of dating violence is called cyber dating abuse. Psychological forms of cyber dating abuse include monitoring the romantic partner through digital media (e.g., accessing accounts without permission), whereas sexual forms include mainly sexting under pressure. To date, little scholarly attention has been paid to cyber dating abuse in early adolescents' romantic relationships. Research among this age group is essential as teenagers who experiment with sexual behaviors, or initiate their first romantic relationships during this developmental period, are often at high risk of abuse. This project aims to gain a deeper understanding of the context in which cyber dating abuse takes place among early adolescents, using a qualitative as well as a quantitative approach.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

From Food Media to Food Literacy: Investigating the potential of using food media to increase food literacy among young adults (18-25). 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

People consume food via various media to such a degree that some even talk about "food porn". This project aims to investigate if this form of entertainment can be(come) a tool to educate young adults (18-25) from different SES backgrounds about food literacy. We start with an exploration of the food literacy barriers Flemish young adults experience. In this exploratory phase we will also monitor which food media they watch most often and find most entertaining. Second, we will study if and how existing food media cover the four general domains of food literacy (planning, selecting, preparing, consuming). We firstly want to know if food media cover these topics. Second, we aim to study how they transfer this information using a framework of methods that have been proven to be successful in planning health promotion programs. In a final stage, we merge the above knowledge by testing the impact of different food media on the potential improvement of the four general food literacy domains. Using four experiments, we will focus each time on one of the four food literacy domains in detail and how certain food media may positively influence their users. Participants will be asked to actively use a particular form of food media and keep a record of their experience using social media (experimental group) or to not use any food media (control group) for a period of ten weeks. Prior and after each trial measures will be taken to asses any differences in food literacy.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Advertising in online news media: How to balance consumer protection, medium credibility and effective advertising? 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

This project revolves around two types of advertising used in online news media - banner advertising and native advertising. Online banners are widely used and a significant part of the online (news) media profits rely on them. Online banners are not massively viewed or clicked on, however. Also, readers are increasingly using ad blockers to actively avoid them. In response, advertisers have shifted their focus to native advertising in which commercial content is blended with the editorial content. The embedded nature of such ads decreases the distinction readers can make between news versus advertising. This puts both consumer protection and journalistic autonomy at risk. Even more, when readers are aware of the disguised commercial nature of native advertising, credibility of news media and the advertiser may decline. Taking an innovative approach by integrating insights from advertising research, journalism studies and adopting a stakeholder perspective, we aim to investigate the perceptions and behavior related to native advertising and banners. We will first explore perspectives from three stakeholders: readers, advertisers and news media professionals. We will then test several situations in which readers of online news media are confronted with (combinations of) online advertising. We will investigate causal relations between the type(s) of online advertising, readers' critical reasoning, brand and medium credibility and related behaviors.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Past projects

Sexting among adults: an initial step towards a comprehensive understanding of the context and consequences. 01/04/2020 - 31/03/2021

Abstract

Sexting can be defined as the exchange of self-made sexual explicit images through the internet and the mobile phone. It is a normal part of sexual communication. However, sexting can be regarded a public health issue, given its associations with several risks, including pressure, unwanted distribution, experiences of extortion, and forms of sexual coercion. Whereas prior research has already investigated these risky forms of sexting among adolescents and college students, research on adults' sexting experiences is only at its infancy. The purpose of the proposed project is to begin to address this crucial gap in our knowledge on sexting among a representative sample of the general adult population, who may not be immune for sexting-related risks. The proposed project aims to gain an in-depth understanding of sexting behavior among the general adult population by studying the sexting prevalence, (health) correlates, social context, and how adults perceive sexting-related risks using a theory-based survey among a representative sample of 2500 Flemish adults. The survey consists of two parts: 1) a classic survey component and 2) a vignette-study component. The survey component examines the associations of adult sexting on the individual, interpersonal, and community/societal level. The vignette study aims to investigate adults' risk perceptions about several sexting contexts. The proposed project will pave the way for a new line of research and will have strong implications for practice.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

An investigation into the short and long term effects of exposure to online celebrity bashing among adolescent bystanders. 01/04/2020 - 31/03/2021

Abstract

Dit project stelt een studie voor rond een zeer specifieke, doch, vaak voorkomende vorm van online agressie: online celebrity bashing. Celebrity bashing verwijst naar het negatief berichten over en becommentariëren van celebrities. De celebrity-bashers kunnen zowel journalisten, mensen uit het publiek als andere celebrities zijn. Het doel van dit project is om meer kennis te verwerven over wat er gebeurt op het moment dat adolescenten regelmatig met dit fenomeen geconfronteerd worden online. Meer bepaald zal dit project de causale link onderzoeken tussen bloostelling aan de verschillende types van celebrity bashing en zelf een dader worden van celebrity bashing en de onderliggende rol van attitudes in deze relatie. Dit project bouwt verder op bestaand onderzoek rond online celebrity bashing, en neemt de belangrijkste tekortkoming ervan mee in rekening, namelijk de cross-sectionele aard ervan. Door gebruik te maken van een dagboekmethode en een zelf-ontwikkelde app die gebruikt zal worden voor de datacollectie, zullen we in staat zijn inzicht te krijgen in de confrontatie van jongeren met celebrity bashing en de mogelijke effecten ervan op lange termijn en in een natuurlijke context. Dit project zal in staat zijn om een beter zicht te krijgen op de impact van celebrity bashing op adolescenten en celebrities, wat essentieel is voor de ontwikkeling van effectieve preventie- en interventie-initiatieven.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

A life stage and social contextual perspective on adult perpetration of online aggression. 01/04/2020 - 31/03/2021

Abstract

Research on online aggression among adults is scarce, and if investigated among this group, researchers mainly focus on specific forms that have high prevalence rates among adolescents. There are indications in the scientific literature that adults, too, behave aggressively online, but the specific forms early, middle, and late adults perform might differ from those of adolescent perpetrators, as well as the social contexts in which these behaviors are performed. The present project aims to advance knowledge about and understanding of adult perpetration of online aggression. The project will formulate evidence-based answers to the following research questions: (1) Which forms of online aggression are (mostly) perpetrated by early, middle, and late adults?; (2) In which social contexts is online aggression (mostly) performed by early, middle, and late adults?; (3) Is an adults' life positioning related to performing (specific forms of) online aggression (in specific social contexts)?; and (4) Are generational values and beliefs on the use of aggression related to performing (specific forms of) online aggression (in specific contexts)?. These questions will be answered through the use of a combined research method, consisting of qualitative in-depth interviews and a quantitative cross-sectional survey.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Research Council Award 2019 - 'Deleeck' Social Sciences and Humanities 01/12/2019 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

Research Award by awarded by the Research Council of the University of Antwerp. The award will be used to strengthen my research program in the area of sexting and digital forms of dating violence in adolescent as well as in (young) adult populations.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Detect Then ACT: Taking Direct Action against Online Hate Speech by Turning Bystanders into Upstanders (DeTACT). 01/09/2019 - 31/08/2021

Abstract

DeTACT – Detect Then Act – will deploy artificial intelligence to monitor online hate speech and generate insight which can fuel compelling, data-driven campaigns. MIOS (UAntwerp) will perform a literature review and sketch the main findings with regard to online hate dynamics and possible evidence-based ways to counter them.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Meat the challenge. 01/01/2019 - 31/03/2021

Abstract

The meat industry is confronted with challenges in the areas of health, food safety and the environment. Consumers increasingly distrust the meat industry. A number of crises within the sector, negative attention in the press, increasingly louder voices to choose vegetarian alternatives and repeated messages that "eating meat" is unhealthy have caused concern and confusion among consumers. The general aim of this project is to analyze and optimize the communication skills of small and large-scale meat industries. How can they optimally communicate correct information about their product? And can we restore consumer confidence where necessary?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Investigating the power of cooking television (and related) as a positive stimulus to promote healthy eating habits among children. 15/07/2018 - 14/07/2019

Abstract

More than ever it is important to educate children about food literacy, which refers to the all tools needed for a healthy lifelong relationship with food. Food literacy can help to prevent obesity, which has increased to epidemic proportions over the past three decades. In many ways television (TV) consumption is linked to this obesity epidemic, partly due to viewers' exposure to unhealthy foods. This influence of food exposure via TV has mainly been studied in the context of TV advertisements, while scant attention has been paid to the potential role of TV cooking shows. These shows, along with food content on social media have become important food information sources for young viewers. Yet little is known about the nutritional value of recipes prepared in these shows, and their potential impact on young audiences. The general aim of this project is therefore to study the relation between food media (TV cooking shows and food content on social media) and food literacy in a population of Flemish children aged 9-16 years old (a life stage when children become vulnerable to messages about food). In the past 28 months, a range of nutritional content analyses of TV cooking shows targeting children have shown that the nutritional value of recipes in these shows is poor (OBJ. 1). Second, the outcomes of a few survey studies have shown that watching these shows correlates with aspects of food literacy (OBJ.3) and results of two experiments showed that watching TV cooking shows can influence food choice behavior (OBJ.4). In addition, a new scale to measure food literacy among children was developed, and this scale just needs a few more validation studies to be completed (OBJ.2). Finally, a last series of experiments is planned to study the effect of TV cooking shows on all the different aspects of food literacy (planning, selecting, preparing and eating foods). The outcomes of this project will help us understand if and how TV cooking shows and food content on social media may contribute to the ongoing obesity epidemic, and offer suggestions for how we could remediate this process. For instance, one of the experiments of this project has already demonstrated that a TV cooking show episode that focuses on healthy food choices (fresh fruits and vegetables) shifts children's food choice behavior from less healthy to more healthy food choices (choosing fruit as a snack rather than a cookie). This means that if we can nudge program makers to focus (more) on healthy food choices in (TV) cooking shows, these media platforms could be successfully used to endorse healthy eating habits. This, and other suggestions that will come out of this project make this a timely and necessary study that is near completion.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Sexting among young adolescents – focusing on sexting under pressure and secondary sexting. 01/04/2018 - 31/03/2019

Abstract

Sexting can be defined as the sending of self-made sexually explicit pictures. Sexting is a normal part of adolescents' development. Given the risk for reputational damage and the associations with other risk behaviors for those that engage in the behavior, it remains, however, also an important public health issue. More research remains needed to minimize the potential risks of youth sexting. Current research on sexting has suffered from three major limitations. First, almost all studies employ a cross-sectional design. Second, there is hardly any research on the sexting experiences of young adolescents (10-15 year olds), as most research focuses on older adolescents (16-18 years old) or college students. Especially these younger adolescents could be more vulnerable for the negative consequences of sexting. Third, the current research has mainly focused on the sending of sexting images. There is a lack of research that focuses on the motives and characteristics of youth who pressure others to engage in sexting, or those who engage in the non-consensual sharing of sexting pictures (so-called 'secondary sexting'). The purpose of the proposed project is to address these three crucial gaps in our current knowledge on sexting by gaining an in-depth understanding of sexting among younger groups of adolescents (10-15 years old), using a longitudinal and a mixed-methods design. Within this project, we will specifically focus on the characteristics of youth who pressure others to engage in sexting and those who engage in the unauthorized distribution of sexting pictures. The project will comprise of a qualitative investigation of young adolescents' perceptions on sexting. This will form the basis of a three-wave longitudinal survey in which demographic, personality and social characteristics of sexting among young adolescents and problematic forms of sexting will be investigated. The survey design will be guided by the Social Learning Theory and General Strain Theory. The results of this research will provide new insights on how to prevent and address problematic forms of sexting among a vulnerable age group.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Using multi-media entertainment-education programme as tool to prevent obesity in black South-African women. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

The project is a partnership between the University of the Western Cape (UWC), the Human Science Research Council (HSRC), University of Antwerp and KU Leuven. AIMS: To capacitate the School of Public health (SOPH) UWC and to implement an obesity prevention program using entertainment-education (EE) as a platform. The project will support the SOPH to improve the quality of the master program and improve food literacy and body image perception in black females residing in the rural Eastern Cape (Mt Frere) and Langa Township in Cape Town. METHOD: The project will offer opportunities for full time enrolment of master students and provide opportunities for information sharing among the universities. Furthermore the project will produce and test the effectiveness of multimedia entertainment-education on food literacy and body weight perception using locally available resources.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The impact of attitudes and behavior of the PVI "Kop Op" campaign target group. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

Smartphones have permeated a large number of people's lives. Although mobile apps and other digital applications offer great advantages in terms of social connections and access to information, a growing number of users indicate they struggle with their smartphone use. Their mobile phone use sometimes impacts their social life, physical activity and sleep habits in a negative way. The PVI (Safety Instititute of the province of Antwerp) has developed an awaraness raising campaign (Kop Op) to stimulate people to use their smartphone in a more conscious way and, if needed, to restore the balance between smartphone use and other activities. To assess the impact of the activation tools that were developed (test, logging app, website) a combined qualitative (in-depth interviews) and quantitative (survey) study was performed. The study investigated respondents' smartphone use habits and motives and problems/challenges they face when using their device. The tools developed during the campaign were studied to assess if the tools support users in gaining insight into their smartphone use and stimulate them to have a more conscious use of their device. Also recommendations for the follow-up of the campaign were formulated.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website

Brands bringing the news: readers' evaluations of native advertisements in online news media 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

News media are being challenged by the rapidly changing digital environment. Traditional online banner advertisements are nowadays often being avoided, or disabled by ad blockers. To counteract advertising avoidance, and create new revenue streams, so-called 'native advertising' is on the rise. Native advertisements are advertisements with the look and feel of editorial news articles. Although native advertising is the fastest growing advertising format in online news media, little is known about how news readers perceive and evaluate native advertising. Native advertising may be problematic if readers are not able to recognize that they are influenced. Also, the credibility of news media is at stake. In order to implement native advertising in a sustainable and ethically responsible manner, more research is needed. Therefore, this project will investigate native advertising by taking a unique multi-stakeholder approach, integrating theories from the fields of advertising and journalism. A series of experiments will be conducted to investigate how readers process and evaluate different types of native advertisements and news media. In addition, news media's perspective will be explored by conducting interviews at news organizations. The main objective is to unravel when and how readers recognize native advertising and how they deal with it. This will result in a theoretical and practical framework for implementing native advertising in news media, in a responsible manner.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Cyber dating abuse among adolescents: Unraveling its social, relational and individual antecedents. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

Digital technologies have opened up new avenues for perpetrators of teen dating violence to harm, control, stalk or harass their partners. To date, research on the recent phenomenon of adolescent cyber dating abuse has been mainly descriptive in nature and focuses on the link with negative health outcomes and other risk behaviors among victims. Little is known about the antecedents of cyber dating abuse perpetration. In order to design effective prevention strategies, however, research should focus on perpetration and apply complementary theoretical perspectives. This will allow us to compare the predictive power of the various frameworks and to provide educators with information on how to tailor their prevention efforts effectively to the main facilitators of cyber dating abuse perpetration.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website

BOF Sabbatical Leave - Michel Walrave. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

During this sabbatical year research will be prepared and conducted, publications will be drafted in the framework of a research plan with the overarching theme online self-disclosure and privacy. First, motives and consequences of consumers' disclosure of personal data is studied. Projects within this first research line focus on online disclosure of personal data and abuse of personal data (e.g., phishing). Second, the exchange of personal information in online interpersonal communication is studied. Communication between parents and children and, more particularly, sharenting will be investigated. Next, the motives and risks of sexting, an intimate form of digital communication in romantic relationships, are analysed.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website

Why do adolescents self-disclose online? Research on adolescents' self-disclosure and protective behaviors in social network sites. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

The use of social network sites (SNS) has rapidly increased over the past decade. As these sites revolve around the disclosure of personal information, scholars have critically discussed the possible implications of online self-disclosure, especially for adolescents. However, studies on SNS data disclosure are limited in several ways that inspired the project's objectives. First, most studies take a data-driven perspective and lack a theoretical angle. Consequently, this project is theory driven. Adolescents' self-disclosures will be investigated by applying complementary theoretical models: the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Prototype Willingness Model. The Protection Motivation Theory and the Technology Threat Avoidance Theory will be applied to investigate users' awareness and experience of risks related to self-disclosure and how this motivates protective behaviors. Second, most studies adopt a cross-sectional design. Therefore, the second objective of the project is to adopt a longitudinal approach to analyze how adolescents' behaviors evolve after experiencing specific outcomes of self-disclosure.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

An analysis of the long-term effectiveness of coping strategies among adolescent victims of cyberbullying 01/04/2016 - 31/03/2017

Abstract

This project aims to advance knowledge and understanding about how victims cope with cyberbullying and whether these strategies are effective after a longer period of time, for instance years after being cyberbullied. Effectiveness will be evaluated in terms of (1) victimization rates (Is the victim still being bullied?), (2) mental health problems (Does the victim experience mental health problems such as social anxiety, low self-esteem, or anger?), and (3) school/work outcomes and forming close relationships (Has this event empowered the adolescent to do well in school or at work, and has it led to forming close relationships with others?). These questions will be answered through the use of a combined research method. First, a large quantitative retrospective study will be conducted among 1,500 late adolescents and emerging adults aged 18 to 25. Respondents will be asked via an online survey about their involvement with cyberbullying and traditional bullying victimization in the past ten years, and how they coped with victimization in the past, as well as their current involvement in bullying, mental health problems, school/work life, and relationships. Second, qualitative narrative interviews will be conducted with victims of cyberbullying to further investigate how victims look back at the coping strategies they used and the consequences of being cyberbullied. The retrospective study will be launched in October 2016, whereas the interviews will be conducted in January and February 2017.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The development of cyberbullying narratives aimed at parents and of a cyberbullying toolkit for school teams. 01/12/2015 - 15/10/2016

Abstract

In this project we will develop evidence-based tools to tackle cyberbullying amongst adolescents. A first tool will be aimed at parents of adolescents and consists of online narratives. The second tool will be aimed at school teams, and promote discussion, evaluation and planning of a whole-school approach.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Short-term, middle-term and long-term effectiveness of coping strategies used by adolescent victims of cyberbullying. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

This project aims to advance knowledge and understanding about how victims cope with cyberbullying and whether these strategies are effective immediately (within six months after being cyberbullied), after two years, and after five years. Effectiveness will be evaluated in terms of (1) victimization rates (Is the victim still being bullied?), (2) mental health problems (Does the victim experience mental health problems such as social anxiety, low self-esteem, or anger?), and (3) school/work outcomes and forming close relationships (Has this event empowered the adolescent to do well in school or at work, and has it led to forming close relationships with others?). These questions will be answered through the use of a combined method: a longitudinal study of youngsters to evaluate short-term, middle-term and long-term effectiveness, and a retrospective study and interviews of young adults to further evaluate long-term effectiveness will be conducted.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Gossip as social glue: an investigation into the potential mediating role of oxytocin. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

Across time and cultures, gossip has proven to be a universal behavior that strengthens social cohesion and increases trust, presumably because of its stress-reduction and social information-sharing functions. So far, the underlying biological mechanisms of this relation have received little or no attention. We suspect that the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT), which is known to have an important role in regulating social behaviors in all mammals, is likely to be involved. OT levels increase when receiving a trust signal or sharing a secret, two behaviors that also have been attributed to the act of gossip. Hence it is conceivable that gossiping may stimulate OT release, which in turn, promote positive in-group dynamics The purpose of the proposed study is to investigate if, and how, OT could have a mediating role in the relation between gossip on the one hand, and trust and cooperation on the other hand. In addition, we will investigate the moderating effects of individual differences (gender and personality traits) and contextual factors (gossip between friends vs. strangers). We propose a set of laboratory experiments whereby we test whether gossiping participants (compared to solitary or non-gossiping participants) show (1) a temporary increase in salivary OT level (i.e., a greater OT reactivity) and (2) an increase in trust and willingness to cooperate with group members. This project is innovative because it merges two streams of research that have up to now been pursued mostly independently. On the one hand, the social sciences have addressed how and when gossip facilitates social cohesion. On the other hand, in the field of psychoneuroendocrinology, increasing attention is paid to the underlying neural circuits and chemicals that underscore prosocial behaviors like trusting and cooperating. So far both fields of expertise have not been linked to each other. Given the ubiquity of gossip in all cultures and its pervasiveness in almost every aspect of life, we believe the outcomes of this project will appeal to different scientific domains and society at large.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Examining the Effects of Media Celebrity Bashing and Celebrity Testimonials on Cyberbullying amongst Adolescents. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

In this project we will investigate the influence of celebrity stories on cyberbullying amongst adolescents. On the one hand, this will be done from a news media effects perspective: does exposure to "celebrity bashing" by news media lead to cyberbullying behavior? On the other hand, this will be done from a narrative intervention perspective: are celebrity testimonials effective in persuading adolescents not to cyberbully or in providing support to victims. In this way the project will fill important gaps in the existing knowledge on macro influences (in casu: media influences) on cyberbullying behavior, and on evidence-based methods to change cyberbullying behavior and its mental health outcomes.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Cyber dating abuse among adolescents: Unraveling its social, relational and individual antecedents. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

Digital technologies have opened up new avenues for perpetrators of teen dating violence to harm, control, stalk or harass their partners. To date, research on the recent phenomenon of adolescent cyber dating abuse has been mainly descriptive in nature and focuses on the link with negative health outcomes and other risk behaviors among victims. Little is known about the antecedents of cyber dating abuse perpetration. In order to design effective prevention strategies, however, research should focus on perpetration and apply complementary theoretical perspectives. This will allow us to compare the predictive power of the various frameworks and to provide educators with information on how to tailor their prevention efforts effectively to the main facilitators of cyber dating abuse perpetration.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website

Examining the parent-child communication regarding online contact risks 01/09/2015 - 30/03/2017

Abstract

The project collects data about the parent-child communication regarding internet use and online contact risks, such as for instance sexting (i.e., the sharing of sexual pictures by means of mobile phone or other online devices and applications) and cyberbullying (bullying via the internet or mobile phone). Also the possible preventative and/or curative measures taken by parents in the context of these risks are considered. The research project is a collaboration between Odisee and University of Antwerp. The following researchers are involved: Dr. Wannes Heirman, Prof. dr. Michel Walrave, Prof. dr. Koen Ponnet, dr. Katrien Symons, drs. Kathleen Emmery and drs. Griet Frère.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

BFF on SNS? A longitudinal study among adolescents examining changes in friendship quality within different types of friendships on SNS. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

The research project aims to examine how dimensions of friendship quality in different types of adolescent friendship on SNS (offline-to-online, online-to-offline, exclusively online SNS friendships) evolve over a two-year period. Moreover, we will establish the causal pathways between adolescents' use of SNS and indicators of their psychosocial well-being by comparing their levels of self-esteem, loneliness, anxiety feelings and satisfaction with life across data waves.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Personalised advertising on social networking sites: the interplay between advertising effectiveness and the user's privacy concern. 01/12/2014 - 31/05/2017

Abstract

'Personalised advertising', consisting of custom-made messages, addressed to the individual user, is getting extremely popular on social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook. Governments struggle with the possibilities and implications of this new phenomenon. Policymakers and advocacy groups are increasingly expressing concerns on privacy in SNS. The present project examines how SNS, and personalised advertising on SNS in particular, raise concerns about personal data privacy. The central research question is: "What is the impact of different forms of personalisation of SNS advertisements on the SNS users' privacy concern and on the advertisements' effectiveness?" Three subprojects approach this research question from different angles. (i) The first subproject hypothesizes that the effectiveness of personalised ads in follows a curvilinear relationship with the degree of personalisation. Thus, an optimal level of personalisation, in which privacy and effectiveness are balanced, exists. (ii) The second subproject aims to clarify, through a factorial survey, the impact of specific factors (i.e. position of the ad, level of personalisation, data sensitivity, organisation type) on privacy concern related to personalised SNS advertising. (iii) The final subproject uses an experiment to examine technically feasible, future applications of personal data in personalised SNS advertising. This approach is necessary to ensure applicability and relevance of the results in the current fast changing digital environment. In sum, the project is innovative through its methodological approach and its orientation towards future applications. Results will contribute to the existing privacy and advertising literature. A critical evaluation can inspire governmental action related to privacy protection and empowerment towards persuasive attempts on SNS. Moreover, it can provide a framework for advertisers to create privacy-friendly ads. The project thus not only has a scientific, but also an important professional and societal relevance.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Getting closer? A longitudinal study assessing adolescents' self-disclosure and social capital formation in social network sites. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

Young people have rapidly taken up social network sites (SNSs) as their preferred online communication platforms. While using SNSs, adolescents self-disclose, they entrust information about, amongst others, their personal experiences. Moreover, they form and deepen relationships with their SNS contacts, which contributes to their social capital. Research focusing on adolescents, self-disclosure and social capital is, however, characterized by several limitations that this project aims to address. Until now research has focused on SNS users' profile information or used general measures of self-disclosure. However, young people may experience changes in important domains of their personal life, such as their appearance and relationships, and be inclined to self-disclose about them on SNSs. Therefore, this project takes a longitudinal approach to investigate how young people self-disclose on SNSs about several domains of their personal life. By doing so, this project analyzes how self-disclosure in these domains evolves over time and possibly relates to psychological and social gratifications adolescents may experience. Regarding the psychological aspects, this project will add to the current literature by investigating the antecedents (in terms of personality traits) and consequences (e.g. well-being) of adolescents' disclosures in several domains. Subsequently, how gratifications possible lead to changes in self-disclosure, will also be analyzed. As far as social gratifications are concerned, this project will study the relationship between self-disclosure and young people's changes in social capital. In turn, how variations in social capital may influence adolescents' consecutive disclosures, will also be investigated longitudinally. Finally, next to positive outcomes of young people's self-disclosure in terms of well-being and social capital, the impact of negative experiences will be studied too. More particularly, the project investigates how adolescents' self-disclosing behaviour possibly lead to negative outcomes and how they, in turn, influence subsequent self-disclosures.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

AdLit : Advertising Literacy in a New Media Environment : Investigating Minor's Persuasion Knowledge in Relation to New Advertising Formats. 01/09/2014 - 31/08/2018

Abstract

This project represents a research agreement between the UA and on the onther hand IWT. UA provides IWT research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Couch Learning. 01/06/2014 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Narratives in health communication – a multi-disciplinary approach to strengthen understanding of the roles and uses of narratives in conveying health information and changing health behaviors (HEALTHNAR). 01/05/2014 - 30/04/2017

Abstract

The objective of the HealthNar program is (1) to strengthen and consolidate the emerging field of narrative health communication and (2) to establish a flourishing and solid multidisciplinary research exchange network on narratives and health. The program does so by bringing together renowned international scholars from health psychology, media psychology, health communication, arts, and interactive communication.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

What unites us: Investigating the power of social talk and shared meals on shared basis, cooperation and trust in ephemeral interactions. 01/02/2014 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

Many societies today are characterized by ephemeral interactions. We communicate with many, yet with most we no longer have a shared basis, which leads to lower levels of cooperation and trust. Previous research and literature suggests that celebrity gossip and sharing food may have the power to connect people, even within this context of ephemeral interactions. This will be tested by means of social experiments.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Mediated touch sensations in an online store: The role of image interactivity, user control and input device. 01/02/2014 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

Touch is an important source of affect and information to consumers. In online stores physically handling products is impossible. We tackle this barrier by investigating the creation and effects of touch sensations online. First, we test to what extent touch can be created through image interactivity. We further investigate the role of user control. Third, we test how the type of device (mouse vs touch) moderates touch sensations and effects.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Cyberbullying and Stress at School and Work: towards a cross-fertilization of separate research traditions. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

This project aims to advance knowledge about cyberbullying (a) within the work context, (in which this phenomenon has rarely been studied so far) and (b) within the context of youngsters (for whom scholars have rarely tested theories about antecedents and consequences). As such, this project will investigate three research questions about the relationship between stress and cyberbullying amongst youngsters and working adults: (1) does stress cause cyberbullying enactment through the ventilation of negative emotions such as anger and frustration (cyberbullying may then be considered maladaptive "externalizing" behavior), (2) does stress cause cyberbullying victimization through withdrawal reactions evoked by negative emotions such as fear (cyberbullying may then be considered maladaptive "internalizing" behavior) and (3) does cyberbullying victimization lead to (additional) stress for the target and to spill-over of this stress (and cyberbullying) to significant others?

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Why do adolescents self-disclose online? A longitudinal study on adolescents' self-disclosure and protective behaviors in social network sites. 01/01/2014 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

The use of social network sites (SNS) has rapidly increased over the past decade. As these sites revolve around the disclosure of personal information, scholars have critically discussed the possible implications of online self-disclosure, especially for adolescents. However, studies on SNS data disclosure are limited in three ways that inspired the project's objectives. First, most studies focus on data provided in online profiles and how profile privacy settings are used. Revealing personal information while using SNS has been less investigated. Therefore, the present project will contribute to the literature by analyzing predictors and consequences of self-disclosure of adolescents while using SNS. Furthermore, the project will investigate youngsters' protective behaviors when self-disclosing. Second, most studies take a data-driven perspective and lack a theoretical angle. Consequently, the second objective of the project is theory driven. Adolescents' self-disclosures will be investigated by applying an extended model based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. The Protection Motivation Theory will be applied to investigate users' awareness and experience of risks related to self-disclosure and how this motivates protective behaviors. Finally, most studies adopt a cross-sectional design. Therefore, the third objective of the project is to adopt a longitudinal approach to analyze how adolescents' behavior evolves after experiencing specific outcomes of self-disclosure.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

'When ads walk a tightrope.'A study on how the effectiveness of personalised advertising on social networking sites is influenced by privacy concern. 01/01/2014 - 30/11/2014

Abstract

This research project concerns "personalised advertising" on social networking sites. These advertisements are aimed at, and tailored to, the individual user of the social networking site. The project aims at identifying the most efficient way of using personalisation in advertising on social networking sites. The moderating role of "privacy concern" will be taken into account. This research is divided into three complementary sub-projects and focuses on possible future applications.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Children and persuasive communication on the Internet. 01/10/2013 - 31/08/2016

Abstract

For the past three decades, scientific and public debates have been held on the influence of advertising on children and adolescents. Today, this remains an important subject of scientific research. However, the research conducted so far focuses almost exclusively on mass-media advertising. With children spending increasing amounts of time online, there is a clear need for empirical research on children/teens and their ability to understand the persuasive intent of commercial messages on the internet. Many of the previous research on children's and teens' understanding of (traditional) advertising has primarily focused on age. We will therefore investigate the ability of children and adolescents at different ages to recognize and understand the persuasive intent of two different forms of Internet advertising. Moreover, this project extends prior studies, by also taking several other influences into account. To do so, we will develop a website with different banners and different advergames. By using an experimental design, we will be able to measure whether children's and adolescents' recognition and understanding of Internet advertising depend on and/or is associated with (a) the type of Internet advertisement, (b) the child's involvement with the advertised product, and (c) different characteristics of the child and its environment.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Why do adolescents self-disclose? A study on adolescents' self-disclosure and protective behaviors in social network sites based on the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Protection Motivation Theory. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

The use of social network sites (SNS) has rapidly increased over the past decade. As these sites revolve around the disclosure of personal information, scholars have critically discussed the possible implications of online self-disclosure, especially for adolescents. However, studies on SNS data disclosure are limited in three ways that inspired the project's objectives. First, most studies focus on data provided in online profiles and how profile privacy settings are used. Revealing personal information while using SNS has been less investigated. Therefore, the present project will contribute to the literature by analyzing predictors and consequences of self-disclosure of adolescents while using SNS. Furthermore, the project will investigate youngsters' protective behaviors when self-disclosing. Second, most studies take a data-driven perspective and lack a theoretical angle. Consequently, the second objective of the project is theory driven. Adolescents' selfdisclosures will be investigated by applying an extended model based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. The Protection Motivation Theory will be applied to investigate users' awareness and experience of risks related to self-disclosure and how this motivates protective behaviors. Finally, most studies adopt a cross-sectional design. Therefore, the third objective of the project is to adopt a longitudinal approach to analyze how adolescents' behavior evolves after experiencing specific outcomes of self-disclosure.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Scientific Chair Safety Sciences. 07/05/2013 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Automatic Monitoring for Cyberspace Applications (AMiCA). 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

This project represents a research agreement between the UA and on the onther hand IWT. UA provides IWT research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Emotional reactions towards art objects: a bio-informational approach. 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

This research deals with the emotional response to art objects. The questions to be asked are:"How does art induce emotions?", "Does this communication adhere to an underlying system/model?" and "Why are some art objects more successful than others?". In order to analyze emotional responses to art objects we will make use of the knowledge, models and measurement instruments used in psychology (of emotions), communication sciences, and product development.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Flemish Centre for Media Literacy. 21/12/2012 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Friendly ATTAC (Adaptive Technological Tools Against Cyberbullying). 01/02/2012 - 31/01/2016

Abstract

This project represents a research agreement between the UA and on the onther hand IWT. UA provides IWT research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Cognitive development in a digital world: children and persuasive communication on the Internet. 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

For the past three decades, scientific and public debates have been held on the influence of advertising on children and adolescents. Today, this remains an important subject of scientific research. However, the research conducted so far focuses almost exclusively on mass-media advertising. With children spending increasing amounts of time online, there is a clear need for empirical research on children/teens and their ability to understand the persuasive intent of commercial messages on the internet. Many of the previous research on children's and teens' understanding of (traditional) advertising has primarily focused on age. We will therefore investigate the ability of children and adolescents at different ages to recognize and understand the persuasive intent of two different forms of Internet advertising. Moreover, this project extends prior studies, by also taking several other influences into account. To do so, we will develop a website with different banners and different advergames. By using an experimental design, we will be able to measure whether children's and adolescents' recognition and understanding of Internet advertising depend on and/or is associated with (a) the type of Internet advertisement, (b) the child's involvement with the advertised product, and (c) different characteristics of the child and its environment.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Biometric Design for Casual Games (BD4CG) : Offering technical playtest services to the game industry. 01/10/2011 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Stichting NHTV. UA provides Stichting NHTV Antwerp research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

First food, then morals: the impact of (new) media on the ongoing decline in commensality, and the consequences on the development and activation of moral attitudes and moral behaviour 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

Due to an increase in television consumption, family meals are in decline. This also implies a loss in daily rituals of moral socialization, which might explain why low frequencies in family meal consumption correlate with lower psychological wellbeing. This project aims to investigate the relation between commensality, morality and wellbeing, with a focus on new media, and commensality outside the family context as new research angles.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

eSafety label pilot project. 30/10/2010 - 30/06/2011

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand EUN Partnership. UA provides EUN Partnership research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The impact of context characteristics on the effectiveness of in-game advertising. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2014

Abstract

The goal of the project is to contribute to research concerning the effectiveness of in-game advertising (IGA). We will focus on the impact of several context characteristics on the effectiveness of the advertising medium, since these characteristics may exert an important influence and our knowledge of the way they affect the processing of IGA is still limited. The context characteristics we take into account are the digital game experience of the player, frequency of exposure to in-game ads, and the nature of the game controller a game is played with.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

AMICA - Automatic monitoring for cyberspace applications. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2011

Abstract

This project represents a research agreement between the UA and on the onther hand IWT. UA provides IWT research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Evidenced-based ICT interventions against (cyber-)bullying amongst youngsters. 01/09/2010 - 31/08/2011

Abstract

This project represents a research agreement between the UA and on the onther hand IWT. UA provides IWT research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

A contextual study of cyberbullying in early adolescence: a longitudinal and social network approach 01/07/2010 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

The existing research on cyberbullying is characterised by three limitations: 1) a lack of a reliable measurement instrument, 2) a lack of attention for the social context, and 3) a lack of longitudinal data. The first aim of this study is therefore to develop a multi-dimensional measurement instrument for cyberbullying. The second and third issue will be addressed in a panel study amongst secondary school pupils, including (a.o.) sociometric measures.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

The contextual development of cyber bullying in early adolescence: a longitudinal and social network analysis. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

The first goal of this study is to develop a multi-dimensional measurement instrument for cyber-bullying. The second goal of this study is to describe the social dimension of cyber-bullying by means of Social Network Analysis. The third goal of the study is to conduct a longitudinal study that takes the development of adolescents as well as of their social network into account.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Advertising in digital games: attitudes, persuasive impact, and moderating factors 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

Today, digital games are the fastest growing advertising medium, making in-game advertising a highly relevant research topic. This project aims to tackle general attitudes of players towards this new and increasingly popular advertising format. A second objective is to investigate how the persuasive impact of in-game ad placements is moderated by emotionally and contextually induced factors such as digital game experiences.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Teenagers and ICT: risks and challenges. 01/12/2005 - 31/12/2007

Explorative research on cybermobbing amongst adolescents in Flanders. 01/07/2005 - 28/02/2006

Abstract

In October 2005, the University of Antwerp, at the request of viwTA and the Commission for Culture, Youth, Sport and the Media of the Flemish Parliament, conducted a large-scale survey into cyberbullying among youngsters in Flanders. In order to establish a clear picture of the phenomenon, the study tried to gain insight into ICT use by youngsters and their experiences with traditional forms of bullying as well as cyberbullying. A total of 636 primary school children and 1416 pupils from secondary education completed a questionnaire on their use of the Internet and mobile phones and their personal experiences with traditional and cyberbullying. The full text of the research report is available at the website of viWTA: www.viwta.be

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website

Media effects on obesity among young children. 01/05/2005 - 31/12/2006

Abstract

This study investigates the (direct and indirect) influence of media on obesity among young children. Previous research has linked television use and exposure to commercials with low activity levels and the consumption of unhealthy foods, both leading to overweight and obesity. Health communication models, on the other hand, argue that public information campaigns can be used to (help) prevent or solve the obesity problem among children. To gather data about the media, food and activity habits of children, and about the attitudes, knowledge, opinions and interventions of their parents, a standardized questionnaire will be developed.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

DITO: analysing the opportunities and risks of identity management and the digital safe for e-government applications. 01/05/2005 - 30/09/2006

Comparative study of the possibilities and limitations of the different telework types. 01/03/2004 - 28/02/2005

Abstract

Working independently from time and space using ICT, also called telework or e-work, will be analysed theoretically and empirically in this project. The range of potentialities and limits of telework, the success factors and pitfalls of e-work experienced by teleworkers and their employers will be explored. This study will focus in particular on the influence of telework on organisational communication, management and coaching and on the influence on the balance between work and private life.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Project website