Friday, April 12, 2013

The Politician Next Door

If you are a voter you probably got used to an increasing number of emails or tweets from politicians who write to you as if they knew you personally. If you a politician you may wonder if this is really a clever thing to do. Everyone is doing it, so you might as well do it yourself. But should you?
To Personalize or Depersonalize? When and How Politicians' Personalized Tweets Affect the Public's Reactions in the Journal of Communication (62 (2012) 932-949) describes an interesting empirical study on the subject done by Eun-Ju Lee and Soo Youn Oh in Sout Korea. They come to the conclusion that it simply depends on the groups of voters one is trying to reach.
Not much has been done to investigate how useful Twittering actually is for a politician's campaign. A study on the benefits of campaigning on social network sites  in 2009 (by Utz, cited in Lee and Oh) found that people had a more positive attitude toward a political candidate when he responded to the them on his social networking page.
A number of politicians come to mind who came to be seen as more personable and down-to earth. Often they were also described as charismatic. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair come to mind, but also Ronald Reagan who is thought to even have softened a financial crisis by going horseback riding after the stock market crash. This gesture told people that there was nothing to worry about.
People are more or less likely to align themselves and identify with political parties and groups. Identifying with a group means perceiving less individuality  which is summarized in the rather complex sounding social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE). If the candidate as group leader sends out a personally sounding message to voters members of the group may be put off because they no longer feel as special by belonging to the group.On the other hand, someone belonging to another group may feel less discriminated when receiving a personal message from another group.
One important result of the study is that people highly affiliated with a part may even experience a negative emotion when they see highly personal campaign messages are being sent out. People with lower party affiliation or even another party affiliation felt more positively about the message. This leaves a campaigner with two options. Assume that people with high affiliation will not change their voting behavior, or discriminate who you send which message to. This may still sound academic, but the underlying logic sounds convincing. If you feel strongly about the party you belong to, especially because you also have a sense of belonging and maybe even exclusiveness because of your membership, how do you feel if the candidate begins spamming with personal messages. To be sure, this is an extreme case, but the basic concept holds true in communication theory and should at least be kept in mind by campaigners and voters alike.


Find out more about how communication can help you: http://www.chrishaverkampf.comExplore fascinating books on communication: http://astore.amazon.co.uk/chrihaveltd-21. Other blogs you may be interested in:
Interpersonal Communication
Communication in Organizations and Groups
Communication and Technology
Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it. (c) 2013 Dr Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or dissemination prohibited. Trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Consistency in Communication - the Road to Success


This follows on from my proceeding blog on the importance of consistency in actions and behaviors for success. I talked about my observation that very successful film industry professionals I talked to where very consistent in what they were doing, which also made them appear very professional. 'Job alternatives' were usually not considered by them. The question was whether success led to this high level of consistency in following a profession or the high level of consistency to success. Success here can be happiness and the fulfillment of one's needs and aspirations, desires that are unique to us or that we share with others. It may be money, but often it is much more, such as becoming the person one wants to become, which we often call self-actualization.
Consistency shows in how someone communicates with oneself and with the world around. It seems very likely that using these forms of communication efficiently is what makes some more successful than others. Someone who adapts to the communication style of the environment, such as a society, is often more successful than someone who does not. But what about people who are highly creative and seem to be on the fringes of society? Here it is interesting to note that they may appear to be on the fringes of society but use communication styles that are at least latent in a society and thus an integral part of it. Communicating outside of society does not make one successful in a society. The successful musician uses the basic rules of making uses that are centuries or thousands of years old, albeit with a novel twist to it. It is possible that it may take a while until a society bestows success on an individual but the seed of success, the complementary communication style  is already latent in a society. This communication style is the basket of common communication patterns in a society that the artist, scientist, businessperson, professional or scientist taps into. Public fame does not work too differently from individual attraction. It is a feature of communication and its use by the individual.




Find out more about how communication can help you: http://www.chrishaverkampf.comExplore fascinating books on communication: http://astore.amazon.co.uk/chrihaveltd-21. Other blogs you may be interested in:
Interpersonal Communication
Communication in Organizations and Groups
Communication and Technology
Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it. (c) 2013 Dr Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or dissemination prohibited. Trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Transportation

To understand transportation is probably the one thing Hollywood studios would pay billions for.
It is the cognitive state in which views become highly engaged and even absorbed in a story. This is the state a movie audience is looking for, but it is also the state in which they are highly prone to persuasion by the narrator. Nothing is quite as powerful as a good story, whether in written form, on the screen, or told by someone in person. Humans have been telling stories for at least the last thousands of years. The advertising and the film industry, as well as publishers, would like to know the ingredients of a story that can capture people's hearts and souls. Although a recipe for story-telling success does not yet exist, research has approached the question from various angles. One branch in communication science is to measure the effects of transportation, the other is to throw light on the steps in the process that leads to transportation. To determine what material facilitates transportation fortunately still needs actual human beings. But we are also slowly learning which narrative features and structures work better than others. On this question a lot of insight has been generated by people who analyze screenplays and literature for a living. Script analysts, for example, are a profession within the film industry that does just that.
Transition in the communication science has been described by Green and Bock in two of their papers:

  • Green, M.C., Brock T.C. (2000). The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 701-721
  • Green, M.C., Brock, T.C., Kaufman, G.F. (2004). Understanding media enjoyment: The role of transportation into narrative worlds. Communication Theory, 14(4), 311-327
Green, Brock, and Kaufman (2004) describe the process of transportation into the world of the narrative as

the process of temporarily leaving one's reality behind and emerging from the experience somehow different from the person one was before entering the milieu of the narrative (p. 315)

Effective transportation therefore also means a transformation through the meaning contained in the story. This is a primary reason why work with narratives is increasingly used in therapy and coaching, as well as in medical prevention On this note take a look at the Journal of Communication, Volume 63, Number 1, February 2013 as a special issue on decreasing health disparities and promoting effective health prevention through communication around the world. One can conclude from reading this issue that transportation really works everywhere around the globe, although the specific narratives used have to be adopted to a specific culture. On the last point see the article on page 116 by S Murphy and L Frank et al. titled Narrative versus Nonnarrative: The Role of Identification, Transportation, and Emotion in Reducing Health Disparities. Looking at individual quotes from participants of the study with diverse backgrounds they also found some empirical evidence that "the power of narratives may be either enabled or constrained by the extent to which audience members can 'see themselves' in the characters" (p. 130).
Busselle and Bilandzic have described four components or steps which seem to be crucial in the process of transition:

  1. narrative understanding
  2. attentional focus
  3. emotional engagement
  4. narrative presence
They focus on enjoyment of films and engagement with a story. You may want to look at the following articles which I can recommend:

  • Bilandzic, H., Busselle R. (2011). Enjoyment of films as a function of narrative experience, perceived realism and transportability. Communications, 36(1), 29-50
  • Busselle, R., Bilandzic, H. (2009). Measuring narrative engagement. Media Psychology, 12(4), 321-347
The good narrative, which is the starting point of the transportation of the individual into the world of a story, has existed for so long that one may wonder if humans on some level have not recognized its power early on. On this point you may want to take a look at the following work by W. Fisher:

  • Fisher, W. R. (1985). The narrative paradigm: In the beginning. Journal of Communication, 35(4), 74-89
  • Fisher, W.R. (1987). Human communication as narration: Toward a philosophy of reason, value, and action. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press
Emotions and transportation are distinct mechanisms, but it will be important for the work of people engaged in health prevention and public awareness, as well as those engaged in media and advertising, to research the link between emotions and transportation further. A survey on the work being done on narrative transportation in the communication field today can be found in the issue of the Journal of Communication I mentioned above.


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Interesting books on communication:
If you want to find out more about the practical side of communication:
Check out all my Blogs:
Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Nothing shall be construed as advice. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it.
Trademarks belong to their respective owners.
(c) 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or dissemination prohibited.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bad Company

Did you ever wonder why we not only like to see morally sound heroes at the movies or on TV, or read about them, but also those who rob banks or even shoot people? If so, you are not alone. Hollywood studios and production companies as well as psychologists and government agencies are wondering about this as well.
The article Exploring How We Enjoy Antihero Narratives by Daniel Shafer and Arthur Raney in the Journal of Communication (62 (2012) 1028-1046) asks the same question, explores the present answers and describes a set of three studies the author conducted to get further answers.
The most important theory in the field so far, Zillmann and Cantor's affective disposition theory (ADT), says that our enjoyment is a function of how much we like a character, what we hope or fear will happen to the character and what eventually happens to him or her. If we like characters we empathize with them and hope for a certain outcome. This is supposed to be regulated by our moral judgment.
But what about heroes who have done something morally wrong, the antiheroes? There are many movies out there which make us empathize, cheer and sweat with a hero who chooses to commit a crime in an unjust world. Just think of Thelma & Louise, or a whole universe of Westerns and film noir. Recent studies have shown that audiences enjoy these imperfect characters who have committed acts which otherwise would be viewed as morally reprehensible (see Janicke and Raney and Krakowiak and Tsay, cited in Shafer and Raney). They seem to appeal to us. What seems to help is if there is a cue in the story which apparently justifies the fallen hero's actions. Often this involves choices between immoral acts forced upon the character in an unjust world which is assumed not to allow the hero to behave in an entirely moral way. Such dilemmas have been called moral disengagement cues because they allow us to disengage from the question whether the hero is morally right. In a world where no one can be entirely morally right the question whether a character is morally right cannot be answered. Everything is relative.
We as an audience seem to acquire expectations of how a story from a given genre will develop, specialized story schemata. We read, hear, watch or see stories which teach us how a genre or sub-genre works, such as Western film noir, what to expect, how the characters are constructed and what underlying archetypes to expect. The more we know about a specific story pattern the more we can expect and, in agreement with affective disposition theory, our enjoyment when we watch these stories and characters increases. This lead to a curious result. The more we know about the likely outcome, the more we enjoy the movie!
Shafer and Raney explored this further in their experimental studies using more than a hundred or hundred of participants who watched films and a pre-recorded video game. What did they find? Moral disengagement cues play a role. If there were strong reasons for an audience to believe that the hero was justified to do the otherwise immoral deed, moral attitudes and judgments played a smaller role in the enjoyment of the movie. This means, that antihero stories seem to be enjoyed for different reasons than conventional stories with heroes doing mostly what is morally sound without the need for justification. A story schema the audience has learned in previous movies leads to moral disengagement if the story in the current movie matches this story schema close enough. The audience grants "moral amnesty" to the character in Shafer and Raney's words.
The authors acknowledge that self-report questionnaires cannot give a robust detailed view of preexisting schemata, but it may still be unsettling that the exposure to enough stories with bad heroes can lead us to disengage from the moral standards we apply. One may wonder if this only applies in the enjoyment of entertainment or other fields of human endeavor as well. Can stories teach us to set aside our morality? These are important questions with potentially no less important answers.
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Interesting books on communication:
If you want to find out more about the practical side of communication:
Check out all my Blogs:
Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Nothing shall be construed as advice. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it.
Trademarks belong to their respective owners.
(c) 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or dissemination prohibited.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Welcome

Dear Reader,


Welcome to my blog on communication and creativity!
I hope you will enjoy it.


Christian Jonathan Haverkampf