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Author: Ashley Churchill, M.A., BIOPAC Midwest Sales

Media psychophysiology research is being embraced by a variety of communication departments around the world. Media psychophysiology generally refers to the measurement of biological responses to messages in order to understand viewers’ cognitive and emotional processing of video, audio, or print messages. Media researchers often focus on measuring processes that occur as one interacts with media content over time and they look for insights into how and why certain media effects emerge (see Potter & Bolls, 2012 for more background).

Social science labs and communication researchers might feel daunted when starting up a lab if they are inexperienced in collecting physiology data. Here are three common strategies that will support the development of a media lab team and contribute to its success.

Ensure the research team has access to and is comfortable seeking out assistance from a variety of resources. Psychophysiology is a fundamentally interdisciplinary science. Incorporating it into your research requires that you draw on both technical and conceptual knowledge from disciplines outside of social science. To complicate things, formal psychophysiology resources can be difficult to find within the typical social science department. Effectively using external resources like subject librarians, university IT, faculty across departments, and BIOPAC’s support team, can help overcome this challenge.

Explain the conceptual aspects of media psychophysiology to your research assistants, whether they are volunteering for the semester or plan to stick around for a few years. Providing RAs with a conceptual background regarding relationships between media, psychology, and physiology can mean the difference between success and failure as far as effectively identifying and resolving problems during an experiment. It takes more than simple knowledge of electrode placement to make someone effective in a data collection role. Guiding RAs in a way that reflects this supports stronger research and researcher retention.

Preserve the practical knowledge generated by your team, do not let it leave with them. Learning how to conduct media psychophysiology research takes time and experience. As different team members rotate in and out of the lab over time, continue to support lab practices that preserve their knowledge and understanding of this research approach. Whether this takes the form of storing informative documentation or encouraging them to lead aspects of new member onboarding, these practices are important to improving the effectiveness of your team over time.

To find more information regarding media psychophysiology, check out our recent webinar featuring media psychophysiology expert Dr. Paul Bolls. To learn about signals that are common in media psychophysiology research— like fEMG, ECG, and EDA—visit our library of on-demand life science webinars.

BIOPAC offers a wide array of wired and wireless equipment that can be used in your research. To find more information on solutions for recording and analyzing signals such as ECG, heart rate, respiration, and more using any platforms mentioned in this blog post, you can visit the individual application pages on the BIOPAC website.

Photo by Vlad Hilitanu on Unsplash

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