Research team

Media, ICT and interpersonal relations in Organisations and Society (MIOS)

Expertise

My research topics include: 1) advertising and consumer psychology and 2) digital games. Emotions form a central topic in (most of) my studies. In my doctoral research, titled “The Heart of Advertising”, I studied the role of emotions in advertising processing and how emotions can be validly measured in an advertising/consumer context. I later applied this knowledge to the field of digital gaming. My gaming research is focused on player emotions and experiences in relation to game evaluations and preferences, player involvement and in-game advertising. I published internationally about this topic and have participated in many international conferences and workshops. Recently I started to integrate the study of social media, the Internet and virtual worlds in my research. Topics include: ad tailoring, crisis communication through social media and virtual stores.

A Tale of Two Processes. The dynamic interplay between emotion and cognition when learning from texts. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2023

Abstract

This project aims to investigate how the integration of narratives in didactic texts can optimize the processing of the information through the dynamic interplay of emotional and cognitive processes and thereby lead to desired learning outcomes. The first objective of this project is to develop valid and reliable dynamic measures of emotional processes during the reading of texts, relying on a multi-method approach (combining self-reports and think-aloud methods, with eye-tracking and psychophysiological measures). Building on the findings from the first research phase, the second objective of the project is to study the dynamic interplay between cognitive and emotional processing and during processing of texts augmented with narrative elements (in different formats). The third objective is to examine how the dynamic interplay between cognitive and emotional processes affects learning outcomes.

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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.

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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 - 30/10/2021

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.

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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.

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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.

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Just in time! Using personal and contextual data to stimulate healthy behavior through adaptive interventions: Theoretical framework, technological building blocks and empirical evidence. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

Behavioral economics provides a relevant theoretical framework that can explain and predict individuals' seemingly irrational choices with respect to their health. By understanding individuals as non-rational actors with predictable biases, individuals can be guided or "nudged" toward wiser choices without restricting their choice freedom or significantly changing their economic incentives. The current project focuses on two complementary health risk behaviors, (un)healthy eating and physical (in)activity, and analyses how persuasive cues or 'nudges' can be applied to interactive, 'just-in-time' (JIT) interventions that are adapted to an individuals' unique characteristics, needs and context. To date, a major gap still exists between the technological capacity to deliver adaptive communications, existing theoretical behavioral frameworks and current applications. The main goal of the project is to close this gap by developing and testing an integrative theoretical framework on how just-in-time adaptive interventions affect individuals' health risk behaviors, by (i) adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, (ii) developing the main technological building blocks that enable these JIT adaptive interventions and (iii) testing the effectiveness of different interventions for different individuals in different contexts.

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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.

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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.

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Teams under pressure: Dynamics of stress and information processing. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

In many situations, teams of experts are made responsible to react accurately and swiftly to critical situations. Examples are command-and-control teams during crisis-situations, management teams, or flight crews. Given the evident importance of effective teamwork in these circumstances, there is a pressing need to understand behaviors and abilities of teams when solving problems that are time-compressed and high-stake, supported by complex, ambiguous data. What did remain mostly out of sight in this line of research, is the specific influence of stress. This does not mean that 'pressure' is not acknowledged, but it is mainly considered a contextual issue, and it is seldom questioned how stress impacts the processes studied. Only actual and continuous measurement of stress in these situations can provide insight in the dynamics of stress within these teams and its effect on information processing. The current project proposal forwards research that applies the measurement of physiological markers of stress via wearable sensors in the context of teamwork. This allows questioning the effect of dynamics of stress on information processing in teams under pressure. It does so by applying both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to study the interrelationship between stress, as measured through Electrodermal Activity, and information-processing. We start with rigorous work under controlled conditions, and conduct thereafter studies in ecological valid team-settings.

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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.

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City of Things (CoT). 01/05/2016 - 30/04/2020

Abstract

As everyday devices are being connected to the Internet, research on large-scale wireless sensors networks specifically and Internet of Things (IoT) generally are becoming more and more important. There is a considerable research and innovation effort related to the deployment of smart cities using this IoT technology. However, there are still plenty of hurdles to move from R&D to implementation and real mass-scale deployment of wireless sensors networks. Moreover, the city itself is a treasure of data to be explored if the right sensors can be installed. Testbeds are the preferred tools for academic and industrial researchers to evaluate their research but a large-scale multi-technology smart city research infrastructure is currently the missing link. The City of Things research infrastructure will build a multi-technology and multi-level testbed in the city of Antwerp. As a result, 100 locations around the city of Antwerp and its harbour will be equipped with gateways supporting multiple wireless IoT protocols. These gateways will connect with hundreds of wireless sensors and actuators, measuring smart city parameters such as traffic flows, noise, air pollution, etc.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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'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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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