Friday, October 27, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Advanced Media Studies at the University of Nevada Reno, Dr. Gi Woong Yun, made a visit to SMU campus and presented his research as part of TAI’s Visiting Scholar Lecture Series. The main title of his presentation was “Measurement Development of Virtual Reality Use and Its Effects.”
First, Dr. Yun provided his current research on the levels of student stress and psychopathology. Preemptive interventions that proactively address personal well-being using new technology were tested in his VR mediation study. The rationale for this study is that the VR tools may be able to provide a unique opportunity to promote student health through an affordable and immersive meditative platform. This project examines the effectiveness of VR immersive mindfulness meditation through a longitudinal, quasi-experimental research design. Biometric feedback (e.g., heart rate), combined with Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale and participant self-reports, informed the potential for VR interventions on college campuses. Results indicated that VR could be an effective intervention method. But, the quantitative measurements could be improved to detect long-term effects of the meditation sessions.
The second study was VR and mobile EEG measurement. Dr. Yun presented research methods in implementing a two-by-two experimental design using both repeated measures (exciting VR content vs. experiential VR content) and between subject stimulus (social vs. no social). The effects were measured with a mobile EEG tool, Emotiv EPOC, and post-test surveys. The mobile EEG tool was able to detect stimulus content showing increased brain activities in some areas of the brain. However, social interaction stimulus did not make a difference in EEG measurements and showed no interaction effect. The framework developed can be adopted in areas of research on contemporary VR production, audience research, content regulation, and game development, to name a few.
Dr. Yun’s presentation was attended by many TAI faculty members, all of whom enjoyed his lecture and the opportunity to use the VR equipment following the lecture.
This July, TAI Professor Dr. Hye Jin Yoon travelled to Tokyo, Japan for the 2017 American Academy of Advertising Global Conference. With her co-author Dr. Hongmin Ahn, she presented a paper titled, “When Two Worlds Collide – The Dark Triad Personality and the Humor in Comedic Violence Ads.”
“AAA partnered with Waseda University and held sessions on its vibrant campus,” Yoon said. “The conference started with a keynote speech from Yoshito Maruoka, President and COO of Dentsu Digital Inc. and ended with a tour of Tokyo with a visit to Mt. Fuji. Many advertising and marketing scholars from the United States, Europe, and other Asian countries attended the conference.”
Dr. Yoon has been published in the Journal of Advertising, Journal of Business Research, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Health Communication, Health Communication, Journal of Advertising Research, and Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, among others. She teaches Advertising Media, International Advertising, and Quantitative and Qualitative Research at SMU.
I am curious. I always want to figure out a few things. I collect information to feed my curiosity. When I meet people with the same questions, I feel excited to share what I have learned with them. The whole process makes me happy. Luckily, these are exactly what professors do.
What class are you teaching this semester?
I am teaching ADV2301 Consumer Behavior this semester. In this class, we discuss theories and concepts of psychology and persuasion as they relate to how and why consumers make certain judgments and decisions. To me, the purpose of the class is two-fold. First, I hope to motivate students to think about the applications of these theories and concepts in advertising/marketing communications. Second, I hope students themselves can become better consumers and make informed decisions with knowledge gained from this class.
What is your area of expertise?
Broadly speaking, my background and expertise are in the area of strategic communication. My research gives special attention to the effects and mechanisms of strategic media messages and technologies in shaping consumer psychology, especially as they relate to health and socially responsible advertising. I am a quantitative researcher. I explore my research questions mostly by doing experiments, surveys, and meta-analyses.
What has been your favorite memory from teaching for TAI so far?
I’ve already had many good experiences with SMU students. Every week I gain something new. It is hard to choose…but if I have to…the favorite memory is when a group of five students came to my office on a Friday afternoon to talk about the different ways to approach their group project. I remember seeing the spark of curiosity and enthusiasm in their eyes.
What is your favorite part about being a professor?
My favorite part is that I get to meet different students every semester, know their stories, share what I’ve learned with them, and help them when they are in need. I hope I can make a valuable contribution to knowledge with my research and use the knowledge to cultivate young minds.
Have you taught before?
I had taught at Penn State for two years before I came to SMU. I taught a research method class for advertising/public relations majors and also an online course on research analytics in strategic communication.
Are you currently doing any research?
Yes, I have a few ongoing projects. One important theme is about the effectiveness of narrative advertising. While past research focuses on the immediate impact of stories, my research has revealed that messages telling stories are also more persuasive than argument-based messages in the long term. This is because narrative exposure can trigger more self-related thoughts on the advocated issue by engaging individuals experientially. Moreover, individuals who have read narrative messages will show greater resistance to counterarguments they encounter at a later time.
What is one interesting fact about you?
I used to play a video game named BombSquad with my husband. We had kept the doubles world record for quite a while.
Thursday April 13, Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr. Grace Ahn, assistant professor at University of Georgia. Dr. Ahn discussed her research, “Virtual Interactions that Impact Physical Behaviors: Applications in Consumer Psychology and Health Contexts,” with many SMU students and faculty attending the event.
“I was very intrigued by Dr. Ahn’s research on virtual environments and how the interaction between virtual and actual reality can provide benefits to one’s personal health, education, and the natural environment,” TAI Professor Sidharth Muralidharan said. “We were fortunate to have Dr. Ahn make the trip to Dallas and discuss her cutting-edge research. ”
Through her research study, Dr. Ahn assesses how interactive digital media transform traditional rules of communication and social interactions, looking at how virtual experiences shape the way people think, feel, and behave in the physical world.
“Dr. Grace Ahn’s cutting-edge research is of major importance to a wide variety of fields,” TAI Professor Peter Noble said. “Her ability to convey the essence of her research into virtual reality and its application to the real world made it both accessible and understandable.”
Her ongoing work includes a NSF funded project exploring the application of virtual agents to promote STEM learning for children in informal learning environments, such as children’s museums. Her work has been published in a number of flagship outlets, including Journal of Advertising, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Communication Research, Journal of Health Communication, Human-Computer Interaction, and Media Psychology.
Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to host Dr. Ahn for a lecture on her research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting guest speakers periodically throughout the year.
Since graduate school, TAI Professor Suzanne Larkin has had a relationship with Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and prototyped a program to aid learning for children with dyslexia. Professor Larkin got her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Visual Communication from Texas A&M Commerce (downtown Dallas), a program that combines Curriculum Development, Design Research, and Business.
“My inspiration came from a challenge as I was acquiring an MFA,” Professor Larkin said. “The challenge was to connect with a ‘giant’ and create something that could benefit them, and do what we call ‘move the needle,’ which means collect data that shows efficacy of what we do as visual communicators. In that challenge I kind of conducted a search, like what people do for thesis topic development. And that started with talking to others to find problems in major organizations where visual narratives or visual solutions could be beneficial. So part of my talking to people came out of tools that we use in the creative industry, like mind maps. I created maps to focus on who to talk to, and in which organizations. I kept running into the same response, and that was that children with dyslexia don’t have enough of the proper resources to help them grow at early diagnosis point, like 2nd and 3rd grade. I was inspired because I love to have fun in my work, and I like to do whimsical concepts. I used to design greeting cards. I’ve done radio, broadcast, outdoor, print. I’ve done it all in my career. So I thought this was a great opportunity to touch a target audience and provide something that hopefully benefits them.”
“I met with Karen Avrit, who is the Education Director,” Professor Larkin said. “We got together during therapy time and talked about what the patients were doing. I asked ‘Why are the children trying to read stories from text when they have reading challenges? Have they ever seen these stories?’ Of course, I’m thinking about this as a visual communicator because pictures say a lot. Karen thought that was a valid question since they didn’t have a visual representation of the fluency stories.”
At that point Ms. Avrit and Professor Larkin realized that there could be a way of using visual narrative to help in teaching punctuation.
“Their fluency program already has a brand called ‘Take Flight,’” Professor Larkin said. “So I thought, if I’m going to create intellectual property for the punctuation, I’ll need to give it a brand too. And of course I got really excited, because I love to create brands. Then I started thinking about color, typography, style of graphics, and on and on.”
From there Professor Larkin developed Ellah’s Tools. Ellah, standing for Experiential Language Learning At Home, could act as an at-home supplement to “Take Flight,” a fluency program developed by the Center for Dyslexia.
“Karen asked me if there was a way to allow parents access to the tools so they could use them at home for supplementing what was being done during therapy time at school,” Professor Larkin said.
Professor Larkin did extensive research and concepting in the process of creating Ellah’s Tools. She had to find a way to animate and teach six basic punctuation marks to children with learning differences, in a way that would keep them engaged.
“Just like with branding, when things are always the same sometimes consumers get tired of it,” Professor Larkin said. “So of course these consumers would be second and third grade children so I want to make it exciting. Every week I gave them a different genre. The comma is based on blues. And I thought, okay, who is someone that inspires me when it comes to blues; well that was BB King. So the song was the style of BB King’s music.”
Throughout the creation process, Professor Larkin never had any sort of budget. She used a combination of her own talents, friends’ talents, and purchasing inexpensive stock music to create prototypes. She used Garage Band to create and edit the music, and Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Flash to create the final product.
“One of my Professors at Texas A&M actually has a blues band,” Professor Larkin said. “They’ve been around for years, and so Bill Ford was gracious to sing the lyrics for the comma. And sang it in his style to music that sounded like typical BB King blues. Because I don’t have a budget, I used a high definition recorder that I purchased. And we recorded in closets and small office spaces, so that there was limited echo. All of that came together in Flash and what we decided to do was instead of flushing out everything at the beginning, because it’s research…and things change, we thought…let’s do it in segments.”
Ellah’s Tools is designed to be a visual curriculum that reinforces what students learn in therapy. In creating the first prototype, Professor Larkin got parents involved through solicitation with therapists at schools in Wiley, Texas. Each week, she gave the therapists a package that include a DVD for parents to use at home and games to go along with the fluency stories.
“Parents were excited to participate. One parent told me that her daughter kept reminding her not to miss the meeting! I met with them for coaching on how to use the prototypes that we were putting together,” Professor Larkin said. “One of the stories was about different types of animals on a farm, so I [created] a scavenger hunt [game]. Another story was about some kids at the beach, so I created a word and image match game. The parents had that to play with alongside a list of prompts that they could use to excite their kids, what kind of conditions that the environment should be in when the kids are interacting with the tools for best case scenario.”
Professor Larkin was able to get feedback from the parents as well as the therapists collecting data. She created a pre- and a post-test for the therapists to evaluate the students. Both tested students not only on their fluency, but on prosody, and their comprehension of punctuation.
“The post-test revealed encouraging data,” Professor Larkin said. “All of the students showed improvement in their reading abilities and comprehension in at least one area. That was really exciting for what it meant to have children experience learning in a different way. It was multi-sensory and reinforced their therapy at home but in a fun way. When the study was done the parents participated in a survey on Survey Monkey. The feedback was great.”
Professor Larkin is hopeful for the future of design research. Last semester she met with the Budd Center at SMU, looking for the potential of sharing the punctuation prototypes with public schools in Dallas. She is also waiting to hear back from a unique school in Dallas that was created specifically for children with learning differences.
“My hope is that there is a way to be able to share these tools, and create more,” Professor Larkin said. “Right now there still isn’t a budget, so that means grant writing, begging, and convincing. I think visual narratives can assist all learning styles.”
Monday March 20, the Temerlin Advertising Institute hosted a lecture by Visiting Scholar Dr. C. W Park, marketing professor at University of Southern California. Dr. Park discussed his research, “Brand Attachment: Theory and Practice,” with many SMU students and faculty attending the event. Through his research, Dr. Park assesses levels of brand attachment and how brands can attempt to achieve a strong consumer relationship.
“We all know that consumers trust and love products that meet their needs and provide a pleasing experience,” SMU MBA Candidate Kenneth Ryan said. “But Dr. Park helped complete the picture by elaborating on the growing importance of developing brand identities whose values match the consumers’ values. His chat at SMU gave students and faculty a glimpse into this growing field of marketing research.”
In his lecture, Dr. Park discusses the “3 E’s,” which are different types of benefits a brand can provide to consumers to develop trust, love, and respect for the brand. The “3 E’s” include enabling benefits, enticing benefits, and enriching benefits.
“I really liked Dr. Park’s presentation when he talked about the 3 E’s regarding brand attachment, especially Enriching benefits for customers,” TAI graduate student Phuong Nguyen said. “It’s hard enough to reach out to people these days and sell your products, and it’s even harder to provide them with inspiration and create a long-lasting relationship. I’m sure Dr. Park’s research paper will tell more about how brand attachment has a strong impact on the survival of the brand. These are very interesting and compelling ideas for brands that want to enter a new market.”
Dr. Park has published numerous articles in Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, and Journal of Consumer Psychology. He has also co-authored several books on marketing and brand management. Dr. Park was Editor of Journal of Consumer Psychology (2008-2012) and is currently the Director of the Global Branding Center at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (2008-present).
In addition, he was an advisor for Samsung from 1989 to 1998 and also served as a member of the Board of Directors for Samsung Corporation from 2001 to 2010. In addition, he has been serving as advisor for Pulmuone Corporation since 1993. He has been running and teaching a number of marketing executive programs at Marshall since 1998.
Temerlin Advertising Institute was honored to host Dr. Park for a lecture on his research. TAI is passionate about staying informed on all current topics in the advertising industry, hosting guest speakers periodically throughout the year.
TAI Assistant Professor Sidharth Muralidharan has been published in various academic journals, with five more publications forthcoming. His main research focuses are cross-cultural studies and advertising’s impact on mitigating social and environmental issues.
His most recent accepted publication is titled “‘Green’ with guilt: Assessing gender differences in ownership messaging efforts in support of England’s plastic bag charge.” The paper will be published in the Journal of Advertising Research, one of the major academic journals in the advertising field.
“There have been plastic bag ordinances where shoppers have the option of either buying plastic bags or avoiding the charge by bringing reusable bags,” Professor Muralidharan said. “One such law came into effect in England, UK. My co-author and I were interested to test the effectiveness of the law by exploring the interplay of guilt appeals in ads and gender on shoppers’ green attitudes and behavior.”
Professor Muralidharan and his co-author did a two-part study exploring gender differences in consumers’ feelings of guilt relating to reusable grocery bags in Study-1 and how each gender responded to guilt appeals in Study-2.
“Survey findings from Study-1 showed that guilt was more impactful on women and helped generate favorable green attitudes and behavior,” Professor Muralidharan said. “Based on these findings, Study-2 was designed to examine how men and women would respond to guilt appeals for green messages framed by egoistic (focus is on the self) and biospheric (focus is on the environment) concerns. Two ads were designed that elicited a moderate level of guilt related to egoistic (personal savings from bringing reusable bags) and biospheric (saving the environment by bringing reusable bags) concerns. Findings showed that egoistic concerns were more effective and that this effect was stronger for women than men.”
Professor Muralidharan believes that this research has managerial implications, saying that the UK government and green advertisers could change their messaging to appeal to egoistic values instead of emphasizing on the more typical environmental benefits.
“Guilt elicited by ads seems to motivate shoppers, especially women, to engage in pro-environmental behavior,” Professor Muralidharan said. “Using gender as a segmentation strategy, advertisers could elicit guilt by incorporating ownership messages in egoistic ads that credit shoppers for behaviors they have yet to begin (e.g., contributing to their personal savings by carrying reusable bags). For pro-environment attitudes and behavior to follow, advertisers should highlight egoistic solutions to the problem: benefits such as personal savings and positive emotions such as happiness. By doing so, advertisers will initiate coping mechanisms that allow consumers to mitigate emotional dissonance and encourage them to pursue pro-environment choices.”
Along with his research, Professor Muralidharan teaches four courses at SMU, including undergraduate (Survey of Advertising and Advertising, Society & Ethics), and graduate (Advertising as a Cultural Force and Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship) courses.
“Ethics lacks importance in both college curriculum and the advertising industry,” Professor Muralidharan said. “On reading past student evaluations, I can say that my greatest accomplishment is when our students at the end of the semester realize the value of ethics and social responsibility in advertising.”
Research is a passion of Professor Muralidharan’s. Although it can be very time consuming to be both a professor and a researcher, he uses his love for research as motivation to balance the two.
“I’ve been teaching at SMU since 2012 and will complete five years by end of this semester,” Professor Muralidharan said. “I try to give equal importance to both teaching and research and being organized and strategic can help maintain a healthy balance. For my balancing act, I begin with teaching first since it is more structured and has a schedule in place, while trying to weave in my research endeavors whenever there are no teaching periods in between. Though research is more malleable, I still organize my research projects for the year, including deadlines and target journals. This is imperative in order to achieve my annual research goals.”
Professor Muralidharan has three other publications forthcoming in both the Asian Journal of Communication and the Journal of Promotion Management. Working on so many research projects has taught him the proper equation for doing research as well as improving his patience.
“I always try to work on research projects that explore advertising’s ability to help mitigate social and environmental issues,” Professor Muralidharan said. “During my tenure as a researcher, I have been fortunate enough to work with accomplished researchers and through collaborations I was able to learn new research methods and statistical analyses while at the same time improved my skills as a storyteller. A strong narrative and appropriate method/analysis go hand-in-hand and both are equally important to a study’s publication success. The multiple research projects I have worked on over the years have taught me a major lesson, which is patience. It can take months for a study to transform from an idea to having it published in a journal but the key is to view the journey as a marathon and not a 100-meter dash.”
Research has always been the necessary backbone of many fields, including advertising. However, not everyone has the keen eye and skill required to be a successful researcher. TAI student Kelsi Jiang is a talented researcher in both the advertising and psychology fields.
Jiang is working on research studies within the Psychology department at SMU. She is working with Psychology Professor Michael Chmielewski and PhD student Rui Tang on several personality studies. She has various roles as a research assistant, including entering, managing and analyzing data, recruiting and contacting participants, and administering psychology tests to participants.
“Dr. Chmielewski’s lab focuses on personality studies, which covers psychopathology and normal-range personality with an emphasis on structure and assessment in both domains,” Jiang said. “Our current studies available for SMU Psychology students to participant in are: 1) Understanding personality through your cognitive ability. and 2) How college changes you over time.”
Her advertising classes have helped her to grow in her communication skills, which are very important for working in a research lab.
“As an international student, I used to avoid conversation and communication as much as possible,” Jiang said. “That can be a huge problem in research, and the difference between me and other research assistants who also [administered] tests to participants might become a reason for differences in the data. I would say all the advertising classes helped me develop my confidence in talking to people and polish up my communication skills.”
Jiang’s psychology research training also helped her in her advertising classes and in previous jobs.
“My research experience helped a lot in finding information and sorting out what is meaningful to the question of interest,” Jiang said. “I think the biggest benefit is my ability to read patterns from data and summarize key takeaways.”
Jiang’s love for research has taken her down the path to two separate majors; however, advertising and psychology backgrounds can work together very well.
“In many ways psychology and advertising work together,” Jiang said. “I think the most obvious one is in the research area. Marketing research and consumer research is the foundation of creating a successful ad campaign. Being able to read the research data and understand the research process [allows] marketers to better reach their target audience. On another hand, consumer behavior studies actually have a lot overlap with different areas of psychology. Learning those related theories could be very helpful to understand how people think and act.”
Jiang has always had a passion for research, which began from simply planning travel schedules for her friends and family. From that point, her courses at SMU influenced her love for research even further.
“I was obsessed to search information online and figure out how to make the best plan, most efficient, most interesting at the best price,” Jiang said. “When I started to study psychology, I didn’t know much about research. The first time I learned about research was my Research Methods class [for Psychology] where I got to know different types of research and how amazing and clever a lot of studies were designed. I always knew I loved numbers. As the research methods class went into more details, I find data and statistics is also a very important part of research. That also increased my interest and motivated me to take a Statistics minor.”
After graduation Jiang hopes to find a job in the advertising and marketing industry. She wants to specialize in search engine optimization or research, where she can use both her psychology and advertising training.
“Many people think that research is boring, complicated and time consuming,” Jiang said. “However, when you are really into it, you can find a whole different world. Numbers are not just numbers anymore, they tell you more reliable information than your thought and imagination [can].”