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ICA 2024 Top Paper Profile: Minich, Kriss, & Cascio

Dr. Matt Minich – First author

In our lead up to #ICA24, we are providing information about papers that received Top Paper awards from the Communication Science and Biology (CSaB) Interest Group. Each paper received exceptionally high scores from reviewers. These papers reflect outstanding scholarship in CSaB. Today’s Top Paper features Dr. Matt Minich as first author of the paper “This is your brain on PSAs: testing for Neural Correlates of Reactance in Response to Messages About Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis”. Be sure to check out the paper at #ICA24

CSaB: In a few short sentences, what is your study about?

This study explored whether the cognitive processes that cause people to reject health messages might be observable in the brain. By comparing self-report responses and neural responses to the same set of real-world messages, we found that messages that elicited more anger (and were more likely to be rejected) also elicited more activity in the anterior insulae. This is a small first step toward identifying neural correlates of message rejection, which could help us better understand the audience experiences that sometimes cause health campaigns to backfire. 

CSaB: How did you come up with the idea for this line of research?

This work is very much inspired by the work of folks like Emily Falk, Elliot Berkman, and others who have used neuroimaging to better understand the processes underlying successful persuasion. We wanted to explore whether a similar approach could help us understand the processes of failed persuasion, starting with a process that has already been studied extensively with non-neural methods: reactance. 

CSaB: Anything else you would like to add?

As I mentioned earlier, we see this as just the first step of a long journey toward better understanding why people sometimes reject persuasive messages. We are really excited to move this research forward and are eager to hear perspectives from others at ICA! 

CSaB: Tell us more about the team!

This paper is a collaboration between myself, Lauren A. Kriss (a PhD candidate at UW-Madison and an expert on reactance), and my advisor Christopher N. Cascio. This team also owes a huge debt to Ralf Schmälzle, who provided important methodological insights. 

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