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New research projects acquired

Our department recently got two new research grants, funded by the Austrian Science Fund and the Central Bank of the Republic of Austria (OeNB).

The Austrian Science Fund (FWF) will fund Jörg Matthes's research project "Social Media and Political Engagement: Mechanisms and Contingencies". The project, scheduled to start in June 2018, will run for a duration of three years.

Aim and scope of the project: The increasing use of social media has spurred hopes that social media may have the power to increase political participation, even among those who used to tune out of the political world. Research findings in the field indeed suggest a positive relationship between social media use and various forms of political participation, such as protesting and political expression. However, there is a lack of theorizing about the precise psychological processes behind this relationship. Hence, we still don't know why and under which circumstances social media may increase participation. One problem is that research in the field is dominated by cross-sectional surveys, which measure social media use and participation for only one point in time. Long-term analyses and experimental studies, which are better suited to explain psychological mechanisms and causal effects, are yet a scarce phenomenon. Drawing on the Social Media Political Participation Model, this project aims at filling this pressing research gap.

Furthermore, the Anniversary Fund of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB, Central Bank of the Republic of Austria) will provide the funding for the research project "Effekte von gesunden Nahrungsmittelplatzierungen in Kindermedien auf das Essverhalten von Kindern. Langzeitwirkungen, Aktivierung und Aufmerksamkeitsallokation, sowie effektive Präsentation". Alongside PIs Jörg Matthes and Brigitte Naderer, Ines Spielvogel and Alice Binder will conduct and organize the project, supported by a further BA/MA student.

Aim and scope of the project: As of right now, nearly every fifth child in Austria is categorized as overweight or obese and obesity is a main contributor to long-term health issues. Content analyses of narrative children's media offerings found that the majority of food representations on television comprises of unhealthy products. And these representations are effective. Plenty of studies have found effects of media use and unhealthy eating behaviour and even specific snack choices. However, whether the representation of healthy products can have similar effects has not been sufficiently studied. Thus, the positive potential of television as a communicator for healthy eating behaviour for children is an important research gap. The project aims at uncovering the positive influence that media content targeted at children could have on their food preferences.

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