ICA Preconference: New Conceptualizations and Research to Inform Message Testing: Perceived Message Effectiveness and Its Alternatives

WHEN:           9 AM to 5 PM; May 24, 2019

WHERE:         Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C.

DESCRIPTION:   Invited and submitted  papers on the topic of  message testing aimed at improving  its conceptualization and empirical underpinnings  while moving forward to next generation measures and procedures.

OBJECTIVE:  Message testing is central to message evaluation and use whether for theory testing or campaign design. Perceived message effectiveness is one type of message  testing measure concerned with target audience perceptions of the impact of messages. Its use has grown rapidly in the field, and yet the existing literature fails to provide clear guidance on best practices for conceptualization and measurement. A recent article in the Journal of Communication (2018, Volume 68(1)) by Dan O’Keefe on the weaknesses of perceived message effectiveness spurred considerable dialogue in the message testing and persuasion sub-disciplines.  A panel at the University of Kentucky health communication conference (April 2018) produced strong audience turnout and involvement eventuating in a series of commentaries in JOC (2018, Volume 68(5), https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqy048.)  This pre-conference will allow increased input from interested audiences to describe and evaluate the  conceptual and empirical strengths and weaknesses of perceived message effectiveness, related measures and approaches, and alternatives. The preconference is a one day meeting (with lunch on your own). Participation is open to everyone with an interest in the topic. No single point of view, procedure, scaling method, or methodology will be privileged.

INVITED  PRESENTATIONS: The morning session will consist primarily of invited  papers -- conceptual and empirical -- from researchers who have been deeply involved in message testing. The  pre-conference organizers -- Joseph Cappella (University of Pennsylvania) and Seth Noar (University of North Carolina) – have secured  invited presentations from Daniel O’Keefe (Northwestern), Marco Yzer (University of Minnesota), Lyudmila (Lucy) Popova (Georgia State  University), James Dillard (Penn State University), Xiaoquan Zhao (George Mason), and Melanie Wakefield (Cancer Council of Victoria).

SUBMITTED  PRESENTATIONS:    The organizers are soliciting additional  presentations for the afternoon session. These will consist of papers selected for presentation from contributors as long as the paper focuses on message testing.  Empirical and conceptual approaches are welcome. Innovation, practicality, and rigor will guide the selection of papers submitted for consideration.

HOW TO SUBMIT:  Send an extended abstract of your proposed presentation. The body of the abstract is limited to 600 words (reference list, tables, and figures do NOT count against this total). Tables and figures are strongly encouraged (maximum of one each) especially for empirical work. Send your abstract no later than December 14, 2018 to joseph.cappella@asc.upenn.edu  and noar@unc.edu. Those accepted will be notified on or about January 16, 2019 which is the same date as ICA acceptances.

ATTEND WITHOUT SUBMITTING:  The pre-conference is open to everyone with an interest in the topic. There is a $50 registration fee for the pre-conference but a limited number of “scholarships” for students (that is, waivers of  the fee) are available. Register to attend through the ICA website. Graduate students may apply for a registration waiver through joseph.cappella@asc.upenn.edu and noar@unc.edu.

The pre-conference will employ a lecture-discussion style that is open, frank, stimulating, and civil.