Listening to Literature: Experiencing Literary Audiobooks

Funded by: Austrian Science Fund (FWF – Der Wissenschaftsfonds)
Duration: January 2023 – December 2025
PI: Günther Stocker (Department of German Studies, University of Vienna) • Hajo Boomgaarden
Collaboration: Lukas Kosch • Annika Schwabe

The first encounter with literature in a person's life takes place in childhood when listening to stories and in situations of reading aloud. But not only in personal development, but also historically, listening to stories forms the beginning of the engagement with literature and the silent reading of books as the dominant practice only follows much later. Auditory reception has always been an important form of literary consumption, but in the 21st century, listening to literature, particularly in the form of audiobooks, has once again become a widespread activity. However, despite their popularity, audiobooks are often credited with being a shallow and less demanding alternative to reading and cannot replace reading the printed book. Since there is still very little empirical research on listening to literature, it seems important to thoroughly examine the specific practices and experiences of listening to literary audiobooks and to compare them with traditional print reading.

The main research question of the project is therefore: Are there any (measurable) differences if the same literary narrative is read in print or listened to in the form of an audiobook? This regards more specifically crucial dimensions of the literary experience such as (1) text comprehension, (2) aesthetic emotions, (3) identification and engagement with narrative characters, and (4) immersion in the narrated world? Furthermore, we question if possible differences depend on specific narrative techniques or on the surroundings and the context in which the literary text is received. Due to the lack of empirical studies on audiobook listening, especially with a focus on literary texts, the project uses a mixed-methods approach to explore the addressed phenomena in as many ways as possible.

The transdisciplinary conception of our project combines theoretical and methodological approaches from literary studies, communication science and media psychology based on a multidisciplinary research team.

Digital Hate: Perpetrators, Audiences, and (Dis)Empowered Targets (DIGIHATE)

Funded by: ERC – European Research Council
Duration: 2023-2027
PI: Jörg Matthes
Collaboration: Kevin Koban • Mario Freyer • Stephanie Bührer • Maryam Khaleghipour • Thomas Kirchmair • Rinat Meerson

Across many social media platforms, hateful content against people from both socially disadvantaged (e.g., women, Muslims) and privileged groups (e.g., politicians, journalists, academics) are commonplace and represent a pivotal challenge to societal cohesion. From a scientific standpoint, this digital hate constitutes a complex and dynamic structure, in which various involved actors (broadly and fluidly classified in perpetrators, bystanders, and targets) exhibit unique, yet partially interacting motivations, perceptions, and vulnerabilities. An approach to investigate digital hate thus needs to be multidisciplinary, methodologically versatile, and inclusive of different cultural settings in order to be appropriate. The ERC project Digital Hate: Perpetrators, Audiences, and (Dis)Empowered Targets (DIGIHATE) meets these requirements, examining how different kinds of digital hate emerge, get distributed, and affect others and determining what everyone can do about it.

Time Allocation, Media Selection and Displacement Effects

Funded by: Austrian Science Fund (FWF – Der Wissenschaftsfonds)
Duration: September 2020 – August 2023
PI: Claudia Wilhelm
Collaboration: Anne Reinhardt • Sophie Mayen

In children and adolescents' digitized life worlds, the boundaries between learning and leisure time are increasingly dissolving. Under these conditions, there is a risk that time spent with media will be at the expense of time spent on school activities. The increasing temporal dissolution of boundaries in media use poses a challenge to the self-discipline and self-control of children and young people to regulate the extent of media use. This research project investigates the time and media use of children and adolescents aged ten to 17 years. The aim is to find out to what extent different forms of media use compete or complement each other in the daily routine and whether these media activities lead to less time being spent on non-media leisure activities and school tasks. The project also aims to find out to what extent media use and the use of time have changed over different media generations: Did earlier generations of children and young people, for example in the time before smartphones and the Internet, have more leisure time and to what extent did they spend it with or without media? In a further step, the research project examines the effects of media use on school performance. Is an increase in media use (e.g., television, Internet, computer games) associated with a decrease in school performance and on which factors (e.g., personality, age, type of education, media generation) does this depend?

To answer the research questions and to test the assumptions, children and adolescents aged 10 to 17 years are asked to fill out a questionnaire and a diary. For the comparison between different generations of media, existing data on time use from the German Federal Statistical Office and data on school ability from the German National Education Panel will be analyzed.

Angstfrei mobil

Funded by: Innovationsfond der Wiener Stadtwerke
Duration: October 2020 – September 2022
PI: Gerit Götzenbrucker
Collaboration: Michaela Griesbeck • Kai Preibisch
Status: Completed

Mobility is an important aspect in everyday life and enables people to participate in public spaces. However, being spatially mobile may feel threatening to a certain group of people, e.g. people with psychological distress caused by everyday fear. This can lead to exclusion from social events or to avoidance of certain (public) mobility offers.

During the development of infrastructure, IT (apps, desktops, etc.) and mobility offers and solutions, the psychological and communicative aspect is usually neglected in efforts to achieve barrier-free mobility. This project addresses this gap and the psychological and communicative barriers – in the area of ​​infrastructure, existing mobility offers as well as IT developments – and examines them for their suitability for people affected by fears. The special requirements of these groups of people are collected and measures are developed to provide better information and improve the feeling of security and usability for people with fears in public transport.

Social Media Use and Adolescents' Well-Being

Funded by: Austrian Science Fund (FWF – Der Wissenschaftsfonds)
Duration: September 2020 – August 2023
PI: Jörg Matthes
Collaboration: Kevin Koban

Social media sites such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram have become an integral part of adolescents' lives due to the high availability of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In this context, adolescents increasingly use social media in parallel with other activities, e.g., while talking to friends or family, or even during school classes. These activities lead to the phenomenon of being permanently online and constantly connected to others. The ongoing and diverse social media use entails a number of positive aspects such as reinforcing friendships or self-disclosure, but also poses many risks, such as communication stress or becoming a target of cyberbullying. Given the multiple uses of social media, a one-sided focus on positive or negative consequences for adolescents' well-being falls short, as they may occur simultaneously.

Therefore, the central hypothesis of this project states that social media use has both positive and negative influences on adolescents' psychological, social, and physical well-being. To test this assumption we developed an innovative theoretical model. For the first time, we integrate positive and negative consequences of social media use in three key areas of adolescents' lives—information management, relationship management, and identity management—and simultaneously examine their influence on adolescents' well-being. We will investigate six underlying processes as well as different influence factors such as individual predispositions, parental, and peer influences. This approach is a unique attempt to shed new light on how and under which circumstances social media use influences well-being in adolescence.

To that end, we propose an innovative multi-method research design, which combines qualitative interviews with quantitative longitudinal surveys and momentary assessments. The proposed research design therefore allows for an in-depth understanding of social media use and its consequences for adolescents' well-being. In addition, the implementation of longitudinal research designs allows explaining the directionality of the proposed relationships, which can help explain contradicting findings in previous research. Overall, this project guides future research and has important implications for society at large.

Youth Skills

Funded by: European Union • Horizon 2020 Program for Research and Innovation
Start: 2020-2023
Co-PI: Hajo Boomgaarden
Collaboration: Hyunjin Song
Status: Completed

"ySkills" examines risks and opportunities related to children's and adolescents' ICT uses and their digital skills to understand how to purposefully use ICTs towards greater cognitive, physical, psychological and social wellbeing. The duration of the action will be 48 months, coordinated by Prof. Dr. Leen D'Haenens (KU Leuven), and involving 15 academic partner institutions. Our department will be represented by Hajo Boomgaarden and Hyunjin Song, who lead the central methods-focussed work package on "Explanatory and Foresight Modelling", applying advanced and innovative modelling strategies to ySkills data and simulation studies.

Books on Screen

Funded by: Austrian Science Fund (FWF – Der Wissenschaftsfonds)
Duration: June 2019 – May 2022
PI: Hajo BoomgaardenGünther Stocker (Department of German Studies, University of Vienna)
Collaboration: Annika Schwabe • Lukas Brandl
Status: Completed

In an interdisciplinary project recently funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), Günther Stocker from the Department of German Studies and Hajo Boomgaarden investigate the consequences of the digitalization of literary experiences. It becomes increasingly common to read books on screens nowadays, be it on e-readers, tablets or smartphone. However, little is known about the consequences of such new media for the literary experience. This research project looks at how the literary experience differs when literary texts are not consumed in the form of a printed book, but on a screen. Concretely it considers the reception of literary long form texts of different degrees of complexity, drawing on a series of experiments.

SMART?Phone. Folgen der Smartphone-Nutzung in der Lebenswelt von Kindern und Jugendlichen

Funded by: Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research of the Republic of Austria
Program: Sparkling Science
Duration: September 2017 – December 2019
PI: Jörg Matthes
Collaboration: Desirée Schmuck • Kathrin Karsay • Sarah Ecklebe
Status: Completed

The project aims to investigate how and why mobile apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat dominate children's and adolescents' communication habits and whether the permanent availability can really be considered as "smart".

Perfect Picture, Imperfect Life? The Relationship Between Personal Instagram Use and Subjective Life-Satisfaction – A Linkage Analysis

Funded by: Austrian Society of Communication / ÖGK (Funding through Fritz Karmasin-Award)
Duration: 2019
PI: Kathrin Karsay • Brigitte Naderer • Christina Peter (LMU Munich, Co-PI)
Status: Completed

The project investigated the relationship between the use of personalized content on Instagram and the life satisfaction of young users. In their study, the project team conducted a linkage analysis which combined a visual content analysis with a survey. With this innovative methodological design, it was possible to check for each participant on an individual level which contents he/she received on Instagram and how this content influenced individual life satisfaction.

This picture has been digitally altered." Perception and Effects of Disclaimer Labels in Social Media

Funded by: MA 57 – Frauenservice der Stadt Wien
Duration: 2018/2019
PI: Kathrin Karsay • Brigitte Naderer (Co-PI) • Christina Peter (LMU München, Co-PI)
Status: Completed

The project aimed to study the effectiveness of disclaimer labels added to photographs on social media on adolescents' body image.

Gamification und Social Media

Funded by: Austrian Economic Chambers (WKO)
Duration: October 2017 – September 2018
PI: Jens Seiffert-Brockmann
Status: Completed

Sparkling Games

Funded by: Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research of the Republic of Austria
Program: Sparkling Science
Duration: March 2016 – August 2018
PI: Gerit Götzenbrucker
Collaboration: Vera Schwarz
Status: Completed

Gerit Götzenbrucker led the Sparkling Games project, which was designed as a cooperation with the Institute for Design & Assessment of Technology (Project Leader: DI Dr. Fares Kayali) of the TU Vienna and the Viennese schools Schulschiff Bertha von Suttner, HTBLVA Spengergasse and HAK/HAS of the BFI Margaretenstraße.

Together with secondary school students the project investigated how concepts from the field of game-based learning can be used to develop learning methods and materials to the topic informatics and society. Starting with a detailed analysis of existing learning and mainstream commercial games students iteratively conceptualized and developed games and game-like materials to support teaching about topics including copyright and intellectual property, privacy, surveillance, social media, and big data. 

Serious Beats – Internet Use and Friendship Structures of Young Migrants in Vienna

Funded by: WWTF
Duration: 2011 – 2013
PI: Gerit Götzenbrucker • Peter Purgathofer
Collaboration: Vera Schwarz • Fares Kayali • Jürgen Pfeffer • Barbara Franz
Status: Completed

In the context of the transdisciplinary project "Serious Beats", an analysis of the integrative potential of social networks and online games resulted in an online game ("YourTurn! Das Video-Spiel" on Facebook ) being developed and released for young people in Vienna. Through innovative action research, light could be shed on the issues of migration and diversity.

Networked Youth: Mobile Media and Socia Networks

Funded by: ASEA-UNINET
Duration: 2008 – 2012
PI: Gerit Götzenbrucker
Collaboration: Margarita Köhl
Status: Completed

As part of a cross-culture ASEA UNINET research project organised by the University of Vienna in cooperation with Silpakorn University Bangkok since late 2008, a series of different investigative steps and various methods have been used to investigate the cross-cultural effects of initiating friendships, forming relationships and emotion cultures in social networks on the Internet.

Die Wirkungen von multimodalen Verkehrsinformationssystemen untersucht am Beispiel des Routenplaners anachb (ITS Works)

Funded by: Federal Ministry for Mobility, Innovation and Technology • FFG
Duration: 2009-2011
Project Consortium: Renate Cervinka • Cornelia Ehmayer • Eva Favry • Tanja Gerlich • Gerit Götzenbrucker • Klaus Heimbuchner • Max Herry • Helmut Hiess • Clemens Kaufmann • Helene Karmasin • Margarita Köhl • Ralf Risser • Werner Rosinak

Innovation in Unternehmen. Technologiegestützte soziale Netzwerke in Teamarbeitsprozessen eines Mobilfunkunternehmens

Funded by: Connect Austria
Duration: 2001-2022
PI: Gerit Götzenbrucker