Michael A. Xenos

Michael A. Xenos
University of Wisconsin–Madison | UW · Department of Life Sciences Communication

PhD, University of Washington

About

142
Publications
69,198
Reads
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5,277
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2010 - present
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison
Description
  • Associate Professor; Director, Center for Communication Research
September 2008 - May 2010
Louisiana State University
Position
  • Louisiana State University - Manship School of Mass Communication, Department of Political Science
Description
  • Assistant Professor; Deputy Director, Manship School Media Effects Laboratory
August 2005 - May 2008
Position
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison
Description
  • Assistant Professor

Publications

Publications (142)
Article
Full-text available
Given the significant rise in the number of Americans who turn to the Internet for political information, we examine the effects of these behaviors on political and civic engagement in an evolving media landscape. Specifically, we test hypotheses derived from competing models - the instrumental approach, which posits direct effects of Internet use...
Article
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This study provides a controlled test of the effects of youth-oriented political portals. Based on existing theories of the individual effects of Internet use, we hypothesize that these sites may facilitate political engagement among members of their target audience in a variety of ways, but we also consider the possibility that such effects may be...
Article
Full-text available
Recent developments suggest a strong relationship between social media use and political engagement and raise questions about the potential for social media to help stem or even reverse patterns of political inequality that have troubled scholars for years. In this paper, we articulate a model of social media and political engagement among young pe...
Article
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A growing number of scholars continue to investigate relationships between exposure and attention to political comedy programs like The Daily Show and political knowledge. One prominent explanation for these relationships suggests that exposure to such programs facilitates the acquisition of political information from hard news sources, particularl...
Article
The current study examines upstream engagement initiatives using the issue of nanotechnology as a case study. A series of logistic and OLS regression analyses explore data from a laboratory experiment on information-seeking behavior, knowledge, and willingness to engage with the issue of nanotechnology in the future. Our results fail to offer evide...
Article
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As the reach of science content in traditional media declines, many institutions and scientists are turning to YouTube as a powerful tool for communicating directly with non-expert publics. They do so with little empirical social science research guiding their efforts. This study explores how video characteristics and social endorsement cues provid...
Article
From time to time, some social media users avoid content posted by specific people in their networks. Most research on such selective avoidance has focused on individual motivations and other psychological factors rather than on social network characteristics, and there is a need for a systematic analysis of the relationships between individuals’ s...
Article
Effective public engagement with complex technologies requires a nuanced understanding of how different audiences make sense of and communicate disruptive technologies with immense social implications. Using latent class analysis (LCA) on nationally-representative survey data (N = 2,700), we examine public attitudes on different aspects of AI, and...
Article
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Some people live in social media “news deserts,” while others are embedded in online networks that are rich in news content. These news deserts represent a new form of digital inequality—distinct from problems of access, resources, or civic skills—that could foreclose one of the ways social media are believed to contribute to informing citizens and...
Article
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Little is known about how incidental exposure to news, interpersonal discussion, and the diversity of social networks interact in social media environments and for science-related issues. Using a U.S. nationally representative survey, we investigate how these features relate to factual knowledge of gene editing. Incidental exposure to science-relat...
Article
Deference to scientific authority theoretically captures the belief that scientists and not publics should make decisions on science in society. Few studies examine deference, however, and none test this central theoretical claim. The result is deference is often conflated with concepts such as trust in scientists and belief in the authority of sci...
Article
The aim of this study is to investigate the causal direction of the relationship between incidental news exposure via social media and political participation. Unlike prior studies, which have relied on cross-sectional data to examine this link, we used two panel data sets to better identify causal relationships. Specifically, we evaluate two unidi...
Article
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A bstract This study analyzes the relationship between state-level variables and Twitter discourse on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Using geographically identified tweets related to GMOs, we examined how the sentiments expressed about GMOs related to education levels, news coverage, proportion of rural and urban counties, state-level polit...
Article
Public discourse and deliberation are key to developing socially responsible and acceptable human gene editing research and applications. Researchers have raised concerns, however, that discourse about heritable gene edits, especially for non-therapeutic (or enhancement) purposes, might negatively bias public opinion of applications, including non-...
Article
As research on human applications of CRISPR advances, researchers, advisory bodies, and other stakeholder organizations continue calling for global public discourses and engagement to shape development of human gene editing (HGE). Research that captures public views and tests ways for engaging across viewpoints is vital for facilitating these disco...
Article
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Spreading issue awareness about increasingly interdisciplinary scientific discoveries faces progressively larger communication challenges due to the complexity, innovation pace, and broad applicability of these innovations. Traditionally, the public relies on legacy media for information and discussion of science topics. In face of a changing infor...
Article
Building on existing theoretical frameworks for the study of incivility, interactivity, and negativity bias, this study contributes to the growing body of literature on the impact of incivility in online comments. Specifically, it tests incivility’s impact on news engagement intentions; investigates political and personality predispositions’ roles...
Chapter
This chapter examines similarities and differences between scientists’ and nonscientists’ views of synthetic biology and the factors that shape them, as well as limitations of available research and the need for more focus on the views of both groups. We combine data from a survey of researchers in synthetic biology and a nationally representative...
Chapter
Full-text available
Since Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 US presidential election, media organizations, pundits, academics, and technology leaders are panicking not only over what they see as the sudden emergence of fake news but also over the difficulties of finding effective and sustainable solutions. But how new or even real is this idea of inaccurate...
Article
Events such as the 2017 “March for Science” have brought greater attention to public attitudes toward science and scientists. Our analyses of recent poll data show that Americans’ confidence in scientists has been high for roughly 40 years (relative to other institutions), and that it is high even for controversial topics such as global warming and...
Article
Political conservatives are consistently more supportive of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the U.S., while political liberals are consistently more opposed, yet the processes shaping this division are largely unexplored. Here, we illustrate how political polarization in support for fracking can be understood by how risk and benefit perceptions...
Article
Full-text available
Interest in public engagement with science activities has grown in recent decades, especially engagement through social media and among graduate students. Research on scientists’ views of engagement, particularly two-way engagement and engagement through social media, is sparse, particularly research examining graduate students’ views. We compare g...
Data
IBM SPSS dataset file of graduate student and faculty responses (titled [dataset_grad student & faculty.sav]). (SAV)
Article
Developments in CRISPR‐based gene‐editing technologies have generated a growing number of proposals to gene edit populations of wildlife to meet conservation goals. These include proposals to use wildlife genome editing as a response to the spread of invasive species and other threats to biodiversity. As these proposals attract greater attention, c...
Article
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In this essay we envision a more durable and portable model of scholarship on public engagement with science through partnerships between rhetoricians of science and quantitative social scientists. We consider a number of barriers and limitations that make such partnerships difficult, with an eye toward discovering ways that researchers may overcom...
Article
The impact of knowledge on public attitudes toward scientific issues remains unclear, due in part to ill-defined differences in how research designs conceptualize knowledge. Using genetically modified foods as a framework, we explore the impacts of perceived familiarity and factual knowledge, and the moderating roles of media attention and a food-s...
Article
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Using the Zika outbreak as a context of inquiry, this study examines how assigning blame on social media relates to the social amplification of risk framework (SARF). Past research has discussed the relationship between the SARF and traditional mass media, but the role of social media platforms in amplification or attenuation of risk perceptions re...
Article
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In May 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released the report “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects,” summarizing scientific consensus on genetically engineered crops and their implications. NASEM reports aim to give the public and policymakers information on socially relevant science issu...
Article
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We present an analysis of how citizens form attitudes about labeling nanotechnology, building on previous work on the socio-cultural dynamics under publics’ perceptions of risks and governance of emerging technologies. We examine whether individuals’ views about labeling nanotechnology products are correlated with their attitudes about genetically...
Article
This study demonstrates a post-hoc segmentation that is effective in creating distinct and robust segments of interest for researchers and practitioners in science communication. We use agglomerative hierarchical clustering to classify survey respondents based on answers to a short, five-item battery of questions drawn from variables that are frequ...
Article
The synthetic biology research community will influence the future development of synthetic biology and its emergence into the sociopolitical and regulatory arenas. Because of this influence, we provide a first look at those involved in the research field—their views regarding the field and interactions with the public—using a unique sample of Unit...
Article
With social networking site (SNS) use now ubiquitous in American culture, researchers have started paying attention to its effects in a variety of domains. This study explores the relationships between measures of Facebook use and political knowledge levels using a pair of representative samples of U.S. adults. We find that although the mere use of...
Article
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The #overlyhonestmethods trend on Twitter is a space used by many scientists to peel back the curtain on their work and share observations and insights into the research world. We employ computer-assisted coding to assess the themes of 58,125 #overlyhonestmethods posts from January 7, 2013—the hashtag’s inception—to January 6, 2016. We additionally...
Article
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Social media and its embedded user commentary are playing increasingly influential roles in the news process. However, researchers’ understanding of the social media commenting environment remains limited, despite rising concerns over uncivil comments. Accordingly, this study used a supervised machine learning–based method of content analysis to ex...
Article
This paper combines human- and computer-mediated content analysis to advance the understanding of how far-right parties are using new media to mobilize their supporters in the transitioning Ukrainian democracy. This study’s theoretical approach employs the framework of connective action logic; results suggest that young and challenger parties are m...
Article
Social media have given rise to new opportunities for science organizations to communicate with the public. Building on theories of science communication and public relations, this study examined scientific institutions’ use of Twitter for one-way and two-way communication in connection with science festivals over the period 2012 to 2015, using Nan...
Article
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The emergence of CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing has given new urgency to calls from social scientists, bench scientists, and scientific associations for broad public dialog about human genome editing and its applications. Most recently, these calls were formalized in a consensus report on the science, ethics, and governance of human genome editing releas...
Article
Uncivil comments following online news articles about issues of science and technology have been shown to lead to biased interpretations of the news content itself. Using an experiment embedded in a nationally representative survey, we provide evidence that cues about comment moderation ‒ even without any change in the comments themselves ‒ have th...
Article
Increased hydraulic fracturing operations (also known as ‘fracking’) in the U.S. have introduced a larger portion of the public to new and more extensive risks and benefits: from concerns of impacts on water quality and human health to benefits from increased oil and gas production and local economic development. As most policy affecting fracking o...
Article
Scholars of digital democracy share enthusiasm about the potential the Internet provides for democratic communication among citizens. Many applaud the prospect of an expanded, digital, public sphere; others are more cautious about whether the Internet may foster deliberative democracy. We attempt to provide a third alternative view by (1) focusing...
Article
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This study examines how familiarity with an issue—nanotechnology—moderates the effect of exposure to science information on how people process mediated messages about a complex issue. In an online experiment, we provide a nationally representative sample three definitions of nanotechnology (technical, technical applications, and technical risk/bene...
Article
This research offers one of the first analyses of the US public's views about synthetic biology, based on nationally representative survey data. We provide in-depth, multiyear descriptive results of public attitudes toward this issue and compare them with individuals’ attitudes toward other issues. Our data indicate that the public does not general...
Chapter
Dramatic increases in media choice over the past few decades have had profound effects on virtually all processes of communication involving issues of public concern. For science issues in particular, exposure to information about a particular topic is typically driven by specific motivations, often in the highly fragmented world of online communic...
Article
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Of all the online information tools that the public relies on to collect information and share opinions about scientific and environmental issues, Twitter presents a unique venue to assess the spontaneous and genuine opinions of networked publics, including those about a focusing event like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident following the 2011...
Article
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Given the ethical questions that surround emerging science, this study is interested in studying public trust in scientific and religious authorities for information about the risks and benefits of science. Using data from a nationally representative survey of American adults, we employ regression analysis to better understand the relationships bet...
Article
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With electoral politics no longer organised by social class, politicians increasingly seek to relate to a broad spectrum of citizens and part of their relatability is conjured through more casual, informal performances aimed at cultivating authenticity. The various platforms of social media promote forms of authentic communication by blurring the p...
Article
Using the “#arseniclife” controversy as a case study, we examine the roles of blogs and Twitter in post-publication review. The controversy was initiated by a scientific article about bacteria able to substitute arsenic for phosphorus in its genetic material. We present the debate chronologically, using prominent online media to reconstruct the eve...
Article
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Recent technological developments have created novel opportunities for analyzing and identifying patterns in large volumes of digital content. However, many content analysis tools require researchers to choose between the validity of human-based coding and the ability to analyze large volumes of content through computer-based techniques. This study...
Article
Living in an age of big data, this study explores (a) how much certain online information is shared by media users and (b) what sentiments do social media users predominantly express on Twitter. Quantitative findings indicate that after the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Japan, the amount of nuclear energy-related tweets that were linked to out...
Article
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The emergence of personalised, interactive forms of social media has led to questions about the use of these platforms for engagement in politics. Existing research focuses on whether political actors successfully engage citizens, and how social media platforms mobilise young people into offline participation. In this article, we present original s...
Article
In considering the prospect of a new journal focused on “Communication and the Public,” it is impossible to avoid the question of whether these concepts— broad and expansive as they are—have already been adequately addressed in other venues. Certainly, in a narrow conception of mere topical coverage, they have. Such a limited assessment, however, w...
Article
Portrayals of female scientists in science fiction tend to be rare and often distorted. Our research investigates the social media discourse related to public perceptions of the portrayals of scientists in science fiction. We explore the following questions: How does audience discourse about a female scientist protagonist in a science fiction film...
Article
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Political candidates increasingly have incorporated social media tools like Facebook into their campaigns. Such tools enable supporters to interact directly and easily with campaigns, creating an immediate and relatively informal way for users to respond to candidate messages and publicly display their support. Previous research has explored how ca...
Article
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The use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, by politicians and entertainers to engage young citizens can be seen as a further example of the emergence of celebrity politics. While regarded by some commentators as further evidence of the trivialization of political life, this article adopts the alternative approach of those scho...
Article
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Contemporary research on young people and politics portrays their political engagement as: individualised not collectivist; issue-driven not ideology-driven and postmaterialist instead of materialist. This shift towards ‘lifestyle politics’ is assumed to be universal among young people, rather than shaped by traditional social cleavages and structu...
Article
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Input from scientific experts and lay audiences plays an important role in the realization of scientific advances and scientific policymaking. This study examines factors influencing expert and public attitudes toward the regulation of academic and commercial nanotechnology. Compared to scientific experts, lay publics are more likely to support the...
Article
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Due to changes in the media landscape, the vast majority of the public now depends on a mix of media formats for science news. This study analyzes audiences’ repertoires of science media consumption, and the effect of these consumption patterns on public understanding of science. We also profile those who rely on a mix of online-only sources and tr...
Article
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We use an experiment with a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population to examine how political partisans consume and process media reports about nanotechnology—a scientific issue that is unfamiliar to most Americans. We manipulate the extent to which participants receive ideological cues contextualizing a news article, and follow thei...
Chapter
This chapter begins with the premise that the contemporary rise of political comedy and political satire may be seen as intimately related to broader patterns of socio-technical change, particularly as they relate to mass communication. After articulating this connection, the growth and development of scholarship on political entertainment is revie...
Article
The university campus has often been seen as an important site for the politicization of young people. Recent explanations for this have focused attention upon the role of the student union as a means to enable a ‘critical mass’ of previously isolated individuals to produce social networks of common interest. What is missing from these accounts, ho...
Article
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Public communication about science faces novel challenges, including the increasing complexity of research areas and the erosion of traditional journalistic infrastructures. Although scientists have traditionally been reluctant to engage in public communication at the expense of focusing on academic productivity, our survey of highly cited U.S. nan...