Call For Abstracts

Communication Science - Evolution, Biology, and Brains
Innovation in Theory and Methods

Pre-Conference to the 2013 Conference of the International Communication Association (London, England)

Sponsored by:
Mass Communication Division, David Tewksbury & René Weber
Information Systems Division, Elly Konijn & David Prabu
Communication and Technology Division, Kwan Min Lee & James Danowski
The University of Michigan, Department of Communication Studies

The goal of this pre-conference is to bring together scholars who are working across sub-fields of communication studies using evolutionary theory, neuroscience and other biological measures to address core questions in communication studies. A critical mass of scholars are now employing such methods to advance theory and application within communication studies. Furthermore, biological paradigms clearly include additional questions and methods that can be added to our research agenda, however, incorporation of biological explanations and methods can also highlight new questions. In addition to plenary talks given by invited senior scholars in the area, the pre-conference participants will share new data and ideas and discuss a vision for how communication studies can best leverage such new theorizing and study paradigms moving forward.

In particular, this pre-conference is looking for abstracts presenting either data or theory addressing the role of biological paradigms in the following areas or questions:

  • What are biological paradigms equipped to tell us?
  • How do we set up studies that maximally leverage these perspectives?
  • How can we use biological paradigms to measure explicit and implicit processes that color our evaluations of the media, other people, groups and ourselves?
  • Are there perspectives on these issues that are not easily accessed through other means?
  • What mediators may link the mediated environment to health and policy relevant outcomes of interest to our field?
  • How can biological paradigms directly serve as catalysts for updating taken-for-granted conceptions about the communication process?
  • How can we optimally combine methods to answer questions that would be difficult to answer otherwise?
  • Extended Abstracts:
    If you are interested in presenting a theoretical paper, data, or research project maximizing the impact of biological paradigms in communication science, you are invited to submit an extended abstract of 500-750 words – excluding references - to the pre-conference organization committee before 23:59 EST, 4 January 2013. Each potential presenter may submit multiple papers for consideration, however, the first author must be present to discuss the findings if selected.

    To submit please e-mail a PDF version of your abstract to conference organizers at In your email please include the following information: Author names, email addresses, institutional affiliations, and short description of author expertise.

    We will have both paper presentations and a “data-blitz” in which we present a large number of very brief findings or concept pieces from all participants (two minute summaries). We hope that this will stimulate discussion and potential future collaborations.

    Venue and Costs:
    The preconference will take place at the conference hotel in London.

    Support has been generously provided by the University of Michigan to minimize financial costs to participants. We anticipate the following costs to participants:

  • Undergraduate and doctoral students: 45$ (USD)
  • Post-docs and independent researchers: 75$ (USD)
  • Faculty: 85$ (USD)

  • These fees will cover venue, coffee breaks, and audiovisual costs.

    Program & Speakers:
    The morning session will consist of pre-conference organizers and invited speakers providing brief overviews of major biological study paradigms, which may include psychophysiology, neuroimaging, imaging genetics, quantitative genetics, and social neuroendocrinology, depending on research interests of applicants.

    After a short coffee break, we will host a “data blitz” where, each pre-conference participant will be given the opportunity to submit one slide about her/his research program, and will be allotted one minute to provide a brief description of a problem of current interest that s/he is working on, or would like to be working on.

    After the data blitz we will have a facilitated workgroup discussion based on theoretical or methodological areas of convergence, where participants will focus on developing an agenda that addresses core questions to the discipline and speaks to the ways that each new study paradigm might most fruitfully contribute to that agenda. Possible discussion topics will include: Neuroimaging methods (fMRI, EEG), neuroendocrine methods, pychophysiology, quantitative and behavioral genetics, evolutionary biology (group categories will be refined according to registration).

    A lunch outside of the conference venue will be arranged for the group to continue discussions in an informal context to facilitate networking and brainstorming.

    After lunch, we will break out by content area to discuss ways in which the diverse research paradigms might be brought together to enrich the study of core questions relevant to the interest groups.

    Finally, after a short afternoon coffee break, the closing panel will bring together distinguished selected senior researchers and junior researchers to discuss the future of this sub-discipline, common themes from the day, and to motivate next steps to advance the research agenda.

    Organized by:
    Emily Falk (U of Michigan,
    Allison Eden (VU U Amsterdam,
    René Weber (U of California, Santa Barbara,