Emily K Vraga

Emily K Vraga
University of Minnesota Twin Cities | UMN · School of Journalism and Mass Communication

PhD

About

121
Publications
57,394
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
5,346
Citations
Citations since 2017
76 Research Items
4842 Citations
201720182019202020212022202302004006008001,0001,2001,400
201720182019202020212022202302004006008001,0001,2001,400
201720182019202020212022202302004006008001,0001,2001,400
201720182019202020212022202302004006008001,0001,2001,400
Additional affiliations
August 2012 - present
George Mason University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
August 2011 - July 2012
George Washington University
Position
  • Post-Doctoral Research Instructor
August 2005 - August 2011
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (121)
Preprint
Full-text available
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health. The impact of hesitancy on uptake of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines was of particular concern, given the markedly lower uptake compared to other adolescent vaccines in some countries, notably the United States. W...
Article
Full-text available
Recent intense fire seasons in Australia, Borneo, South America, Africa, Siberia, and western North America have displaced large numbers of people, burned tens of millions of hectares, and generated societal urgency to address the wildfire problem (Bowman et al. 2020). Nearly all terrestrial ecosystems, however, burn with some degree of regularity,...
Article
This study expands on existing research about correcting misinformation on social media. Using an experimental design, we explore the effects of three truth signals related to stories shared on social media: whether the person posting the story says it is true, whether the replies to the story say it is true, or whether the story itself is actually...
Article
Full-text available
Misinformation about climate change is a consequential societal issue, causing polarization and reduced support for climate action. However, the seriousness of the problem does not preclude non-serious solutions. There are numerous potential benefits to humor as a strategy to counter misinformation, such as attracting attention and engaging disenga...
Article
Political campaigns often feature jarring revelations against candidates. This study examines how audiences come to understand major campaign events, the extent to which they shape evaluations of candidates, and how their impact is filtered through an increasingly partisan news media environment. Using national rolling cross-sectional survey data c...
Article
Misinformation has been identified as a major contributor to various contentious contemporary events ranging from elections and referenda to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only can belief in misinformation lead to poor judgements and decision-making, it also exerts a lingering influence on people’s reasoning after it has been corrected...
Article
The World Health Organization declared the deluge of publicly available information about COVID-19 to be an “infodemic,” comprising both facts and misinformation. Researchers don’t know exactly the degree to which people believe the misinformation they see online, but, in the case of COVID-19, belief in conspiracy theories related to the virus is a...
Article
Given concerns about the persuasive power of video misinformation on social media for health topics, we test two techniques – exposure to a news literacy video and user corrections – to limit the effects on misperceptions. An online sample of American adults from August of 2019 was randomly assigned to view two simulated Facebook videos. The first...
Article
Full-text available
Despite a wealth of research examining the effectiveness of correction of misinformation, not enough is known about how people experience such correction when it occurs on social media. Using a study of US adults in late March 2020, we measure how often people witness correction, correct others, or are corrected themselves, using the case of COVID-...
Article
Interest in news literacy inside and outside the academy has grown alongside related concerns about the quality of news and information available. Attempts to fully define, explicate and operationalize news literacy, however, are scattered. Drawing on literature across journalism and mass communication, we propose a definition of news literacy that...
Article
Extending previous research, we test two solutions for addressing misinformation by pairing news literacy (NL) messages with corrective responses to health misinformation shared on Twitter. Importantly, we consider a range of outcomes, including not just credibility or misperceptions, but also feelings of news literacy and support for its value. Us...
Article
As COVID-19 vaccines become available to the public, there will be a massive worldwide distribution effort. Vaccine distribution has historically been unequal primarily due to the inability of nations with developing economies to purchase enough vaccine to fully vaccinate their populations. Inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines will not just caus...
Article
Efforts to address misinformation on social media have special urgency with the emergence of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In one effort, the World Health Organization (WHO) designed and publicized shareable infographics to debunk coronavirus myths. We used an experiment to test the efficacy of these infographics, depending on placement and sourc...
Article
We experimentally test whether expert organizations on social media can correct misperceptions of the scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified (GM) food for human consumption, as well as what role social media cues, in the form of “likes,” play in that process. We find expert organizations highlighting scientific consensus on GM f...
Article
Full-text available
This article investigates the prevalence of high and low quality URLs shared on Twitter when users discuss COVID-19. We distinguish between high quality health sources, traditional news sources, and low quality misinformation sources. We find that misinformation, in terms of tweets containing URLs from low quality misinformation websites, is shared...
Article
Background This study assessed psychosocial predictors of U.S. adults’ willingness to get a future COVID-19 vaccine and whether these predictors differ under an emergency use authorization (EUA) release of the vaccine. Methods A survey of 788 U.S. adults was conducted to explore the relationships between demographics and psychosocial predictors of...
Article
Objectives. To compare how human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination was portrayed on Pinterest before and after the platform acted to moderate vaccine-related search results to understand (1) what the information environment looked like previously and (2) whether Pinterest’s policy decisions improved this environment in terms of sources and content....
Article
Full-text available
Misinformation spreads on social media when users engage with it, but users can also respond to correct it. Using an experimental design, we examine how exposure to misinformation and correction on Twitter about unpasteurized milk affects participants’ likelihood of responding to the misinformation, and we code open-ended responses to see what part...
Article
An emerging infectious disease event like the coronavirus (COVID‐19) pandemic demands careful communication of public health messages to diverse audiences. However, misinformation is easily generated and amplified when a rapidly evolving epidemiological situation is coupled with gaps in scientific knowledge about a novel pathogen. Groups involved i...
Article
This study uses an unobtrusive eye tracking approach to examine understudied psychological mechanisms – message attention and credibility – when people are exposed to misinformation and correction on social media. We contrast humor versus non-humor correction strategies that point out rhetorical flaws in misinformation regarding the HPV vaccine, wh...
Article
Despite renewed interest in news literacy (NL) as a way to combat mis- and dis-information, existing scholarship is plagued by insufficient theory building and inadequate conceptualization of both “NL” and its application. We address this concern by offering a concise definition of NL and suggest five key knowledge and skill domains that comprise t...
Article
Full-text available
The World Health Organization has declared that misinformation shared on social media about Covid-19 is an “infodemic” that must be fought alongside the pandemic itself. We reflect on how news literacy and science literacy can provide a foundation to combat misinformation about Covid-19 by giving social media users the tools to identify, consume, a...
Article
Despite concerns about misinformation across social media platforms, little attention has been paid to how to correct misinformation on visual platforms like Instagram. This study uses an experimental design on a national sample to test two features of user-based correction strategies on Instagram for a divisive issue on which misinformation abound...
Article
Full-text available
A by-product of today’s hybrid media system is that genres—once uniformly defined and enforced—are now murky and contested. We develop the concept of news-ness, defined as the extent to which audiences characterize specific content as news, to capture how audiences understand and process media messages. In this article, we (a) ground the concept of...
Article
Full-text available
Since December 2019, COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly across the world. Not surprisingly, conversation about COVID-19 is also increasing. This article is a first look at the amount of conversation taking place on social media, specifically Twitter, with respect to COVID-19, the themes of discussion, where the discussion is emerging from, myths s...
Preprint
Full-text available
Since December 2019, COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly across the world. Not surprisingly, conversation about COVID-19 is also increasing. This article is a first look at the amount of conversation taking place on social media, specifically Twitter, with respect to COVID-19, the themes of discussion, where the discussion is emerging from, myths s...
Article
When is a tweet considered news? This study uses an experimental design to isolate two features of a headline shared on Twitter to determine the impact on audience ratings of ‘news-ness.’ We examine how people rate a Twitter post about potential government shutdown depending on: the type of story headline (breaking, exclusive, fact check, opinion),...
Article
A number of solutions have been proposed to address concerns about misinformation online, including encouraging experts to engage in corrections of misinformation being shared and improving media literacy among the American public. This study combines these approaches to examine whether news literacy (NL) messages on social media enhance the effect...
Article
Amid growing concerns about misinformation on social media, scholars, educators, and commentators see news literacy as a means to improve critical media consumption. We use a nationally-representative sample to investigate the relationship between news literacy (NL), seeing and posting news and political content on social media, and skepticism towa...
Article
Misinformation causes a range of negative impacts. One proposed solution is applying critical thinking techniques to neutralize misinformation by explaining its misleading techniques or logical fallacies. This study tests the efficacy of corrections after exposure to misinformation that adopt inoculating techniques. We test two forms of rhetorical...
Article
The question of how to measure exposure to different types of content on social media grows in importance with increased use of these platforms. Social media further complicate this task by bringing diverse content into the same space, raising the question of whether selective exposure or incidental exposure theories best explain attention patterns...
Article
As concerns grow about the spread of misinformation through social media, scholars have called for improving the public’s media literacy as a potential solution. This study examines the effectiveness of deploying news literacy (NL) messages on social media by testing whether NL tweets are able to affect perceptions of information credibility and NL...
Article
Full-text available
The increased reliance on social network sites for news and the proliferation of partisan news have refocused scholarly attention on how people judge credibility online. Twitter has faced scrutiny regarding their practices in assigning the "verified" status to Twitter accounts, but little work has investigated whether users apply this cue in making...
Article
We examined whether news media literacy (NML) messages attenuate selective exposure and avoidance. One week before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, participants were randomly assigned to see a NML video advertisement before entering a simulated news aggregation website where behaviors were unobtrusively tracked. For three of the four NML messag...
Data
Analysis moderated by political ideology. (DOCX)
Article
Despite the importance of news exposure to political outcomes, news consumption is notoriously difficult to measure, and misreporting news exposure is common. In this study, we compare participants’ news behaviors measured on a news aggregator website with their self-reported story selection immediately after exposure. We find that both individual...
Article
Drawing on interviews with a diverse group of adults living in the United States, this study examines news media literacy and how perceptions of personal bias and news bias affect news choices and interpretation in general and evaluation of two news stories specifically. Findings suggest that while people recognize that their worldviews shape their...
Article
How do different types of host partisanship affect viewers of political talk shows? An experiment replicated on 2 age cohorts examines how different manifestations of partisanship in the cable news environment —explicit partisanship in which the host makes clear his views, and implicit partisanship in which the host gives more time to the guest on...
Article
Ideologically motivated rejection of scientific evidence can be harmful to individuals and society, especially regarding consequential issues like climate change. A growing base of evidence suggests a cognitive style known as Actively Open-Minded Thinking (AOT) may reduce ideological rejection of scientific findings. In this article, we test the as...
Article
Full-text available
Many scientists communicate with the public about risks associated with scientific issues, but such communication may have unintended consequences for how the public views the political orientations and the credibility of the communicating scientist. We explore this possibility using an experiment with a nationally representative sample of American...
Article
Full-text available
Social media are often heralded as offering cancer campaigns new opportunities to reach the public. However, these campaigns may not be equally successful, depending on the nature of the campaign itself, the type of cancer being addressed, and the social media platform being examined. This study is the first to compare social media activity on Twit...
Article
Full-text available
Cancer awareness campaigns compete with other health and social issues for public attention. We examined whether public engagement with breast cancer and prostate cancer declined in 2016 during the U.S. presidential election compared to 2015 on Twitter and Google Trends. We found that attention to breast cancer and prostate cancer declined in 2016...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we focus on the potential influence of a scientist’s advocacy position on the public’s perceived credibility of scientists as a whole. Further, we examine how the scientist’s solution position (information only, non-controversial, and controversial) affects the public’s perception of the scientist’s motivation for sharing informati...
Data
Questionnaire and experimental design. (DOCX)
Data
Analysis moderated by political ideology. (DOCX)
Article
Full-text available
This study tests whether the number (1 vs. 2) and the source (another user vs. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]) of corrective responses affect successful reduction of misperceptions. Using an experimental design, our results suggest that while a single correction from another user did not reduce misperceptions, the CDC on its o...
Article
Full-text available
This study uses two experimental designs to examine how audiences make genre assessments when encountering media content that blends elements of news and entertainment. Study 1 explores how audiences characterize three different versions of a fictitious political talk show program. Study 2 considers whether audience perceptions of ‘news-ness’ are i...
Article
Full-text available
High quality cross-platform research is difficult and expensive to perform in political communication. Yet studying media platforms in isolation ignores the realities of the contemporary media experience. As platforms multiply, the media environment itself has become more complicated, as classic understandings of media ecology give way to a growing...
Article
Full-text available
This study extends past research on the relationship between news use and participation by examining how youth combine news exposure across an array of media devices, sources, and services. Results from a national survey of U.S. youth ages 12 to 17 reveal four distinct news repertoires. We find that half of youth respondents are news avoiders who e...
Article
Full-text available
Social media are often criticized for being a conduit for misinformation on global health issues, but may also serve as a corrective to false information. To investigate this possibility, an experiment was conducted exposing users to a simulated Facebook News Feed featuring misinformation and different correction mechanisms (one in which news stori...
Article
Developing news media literacy skills is recognized as an important part of becoming an informed citizen, but not enough research examines how growth in media literacy differs by individual characteristics. Using a panel study of undergraduate students, we examine which predispositions predict growth in news media literacy beliefs over the semester...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The recent Zika outbreak witnessed the disease evolving from a regional health concern to a global epidemic. During this process, different communities across the globe became involved in Twitter, discussing the disease and key issues associated with it. This paper presents a study of this discussion in Twitter, at the nexus of location...
Article
Full-text available
Social media are often criticized as serving as a source of misinformation, but in this study we examine how they may also function to correct misperceptions on an emerging health issue. We use an experimental design to consider social correction that occurs via peers, testing both the type of correction (i.e., whether a source is provided or not)...
Article
Full-text available
Selective exposure is a growing concern as people become more reliant on social media for political information. While self-reports often ask about exposure to political content on social media, existing research does not account for the fact that even those exposed to political content may still choose to ignore it. To effectively account for this...
Article
Full-text available
It is often assumed that issue advocacy will compromise the credibility of scientists. We conducted a randomized controlled experiment to test public reactions to six different advocacy statements made by a scientist—ranging from a purely informational statement to an endorsement of specific policies. We found that perceived credibility of the comm...
Article
As approval ratings of the U.S. Congress remain depressed, many candidates present themselves as mavericks, willing to counter their party on issues. Yet disagreeing with one's party can be a risky decision and one that is not equally viable for all politicians. In particular, female candidates often face a hostile political climate that privileges...
Article
Full-text available
This study seeks to understand how American youth (aged 12–17 years) learn to consume the news, with specific concern for which devices (television, computer, tablet, and mobile phone) they employ in consuming news. Using a national survey of parent–child dyads, we explore (1) the role of demographics in creating a home environment supportive of ne...
Article
Moving media literacy messages out of the classroom and onto the Internet, where much news consumption happens, offers an opportunity to extend media literacy education to a wider public. However, in doing so it becomes important to consider how the context in which such messages are seen conditions their impact on media literacy attitudes and know...
Article
Purpose Social networking sites (SNS) increasingly serve as a source of political content for Americans. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the relationships between types of political content exposure, especially congruent vs incongruent content, and its effects on political expression and participation. This study pays special attention to w...
Article
In an evolving news environment, our understanding and application of ?news media literacy? must also evolve to equip individuals with the skills to critically engage with news and participate in public life. Using an experimental design, this study tests different news media literacy messages to determine whether certain messages appeal to some gr...
Article
Research on social media content overwhelmingly relies on self-reports, which we suggest are meaningfully limited and likely biased. Instead, we apply an under-utilized method—corneal eye tracking—for gauging attention to content in social media. We expose subjects to different types of Facebook content and track their gaze as they browse through p...
Article
While a growing body of literature examines exposure to social, news, and political information via social media, we have little understanding of how users delineate these categories. In this study, we develop over 100 discrete Facebook stimuli varying these topics, and then test to what extent and which users match our definition of those posts. O...
Article
Full-text available
One recent change in the U.S. media landscape is the shift toward specialized audiences consuming specialized news content. With this trend as a backdrop, this study argues that viewers of a news talk show are more involved with the show's content when the style of the show is compatible with their psychological needs. This proposition is tested ac...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we test the effectiveness of a short news media literacy message with audiences who differ in their media literacy education. We manipulate whether individuals are exposed to a news media literacy public service announcement (PSA) immediately before viewing a political program among two groups: students enrolled in media education co...
Article
Full-text available
Measuring news media literacy is important in order for it to thrive in a variety of educational and civic contexts. This research builds on existing measures of news media literacy and two new scales are presented that measure self-perceived media literacy (SPML) and perceptions of the value of media literacy (VML). Research with a larger sample o...
Article
Full-text available
Research on social media and research on correcting misinformation are both growing areas in communication, but for the most part they have not found common ground. This study seeks to bridge these two areas, considering the role that social media may play in correcting misinformation. To do so, we test a new function of Facebook, which provides re...