Dr. Jennifer Hoewe is an assistant professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. She studies political communication and media psychology.
Race, Ethnicity and Politics
Immigration & Citizenship
Jennifer’s research examines the social and psychological effects of media consumption on individuals’ attitudes and behaviors as well as public opinion. Specifically, she studies the media’s ability to create and perpetuate stereotypes and in-group, out-group relationships while also considering the influence of political orientations on media creation and consumption. This research includes a focus on how media coverage of people as well as the environment encourages group formation and policy decisions based not on information and knowledge but on the politics involved. Jennifer has published more than 25 referred journal articles and book chapters. Her work has been published in Media Psychology, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Environmental Communication, the Journal of Social Issues, and New Media & Society, among others. Her recent study in Science Communication about politically-motivated responses to environmental solutions received the 2017 AEJMC Science, Health, Environment and Risk Communication Article of the Year Award. Also, her work on media portrayals of Muslims was a finalist for the JMCQ Outstanding Research Article of the Year Award in 2017.
Given the intense debate surrounding the United States’ policies regarding admission of refugees and immigrants into the country, this study set out to determine how the news media cover refugees and how that coverage influences news consumers. This study examines how news stories informed the public about the individuals affected by the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In particular, it explores usage of the word “refugee” as opposed to “immigrant” to determine how individuals fleeing their home countries were framed by the press. A content analysis revealed that U.S. newspapers were more likely than international newspapers to conflate the term “immigrant” with “refugee.” Also, when refugees were incorrectly described as “immigrants,” references to terrorism were more likely. The experimental portion of this study uncovered how news consumers respond to this framing of “refugee” versus “immigrant” in the same war-torn situation. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans who read about refugees did not distinguish them from immigrants in the same situation, indicating they may have adopted the U.S. news media’s conflation of these terms. Republicans, however, had more negative perceptions of both refugees and immigrants than did Democrats or Independents, reporting a greater perception of threat and favoring more stringent policy. These results suggests that American news consumers do not distinguish between refugees and immigrants, which at least partially implicates U.S. news media for not providing a solid benchmark for Americans’ understanding of these groups of people.
This study examined the first- and third-person effects of emotional and informational messages, particularly relating to the critical issue areas of energy, the environment, and global warming. Due to intense political polarization on such issues, it also explored the role of political party identification. The results of an experiment indicated that informational messages about the environment produced third-person effects, while environmental advertisements meant to evoke emotion caused first-person effects. Moreover, emotional environmental advertisements appealed more to Republicans and those who did not support a political party. As such, indirect, emotional messages appear to represent an opportunity for strategic environmental communicators to design campaigns that resonate with potentially unreceptive audiences.
Using an experimental design that measures participants’ actual behavior, this study tests the inclusion of a perceived outgroup in an advertisement for a well-established brand to determine if political orientations interact with an advertisement’s content to predict consumption of that product. The results indicate that an advertisement’s activation of one’s political orientation can either change or reinforce brand loyalty. Specifically, more conservative individuals responded to the presence of Muslim and Arab individuals in a Coca-Cola advertisement by selecting Pepsi products despite their initial preference for Coca-Cola; whereas, more liberal individuals maintained their initial brand loyalty to Coca-Cola.
This study examined political journalists’ definitions of public opinion and how these definitions influence the structure of political news stories. After considering prior conceptualizations of public opinion, a scale of two distinct definitions of public opinion was created, consisting of the optimist’s and the pessimist’s definitions. Using a survey of political journalists in the United States, these public opinion definitions were significant predictors of the use of particular sources in political news stories. Importantly, the two definitions had opposite influences on the use of opinion polls, shedding light on the discrepancy in use and perception of poll results in political news.
This study analyzes letters to the editor in two Oklahoma newspapers during the debate over a constitutional amendment banning judicial use of the Islamic moral code called “Shariah Law.” Using Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) to operationalize the moral evaluations in media framing, three morality-based frames were identified: a Patriot frame emphasizing Shariah’s harms, a Heritage frame advocating loyalty to the American Way, and a Golden Rule frame promoting equal treatment of Muslims. Each frame was related to moral foundations that align with particular political ideologies, and amendment supporters were more likely to frame their arguments in moral terms.
Research in motivated reasoning supports the notion that sociopolitical identity moderates the impact of knowledge on attitudes toward science issues. However, science knowledge and sociopolitical orientation have been measured in different ways, and the results have not been entirely consistent. In this study, 964 adults participated in an online survey-experiment examining their reactions to a message about local water quality. Results show that while issue-specific knowledge predicts increased environmental science public policy support, “polluting” the information environment with already politicized message frames activates sociopolitical orientation as a moderator and, among certain groups, reverses the direction of the relationship.