Cracking the Code: Experimenting with Science News Headline Format to Maximize Engagement

Date: 
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Resource Type:
Research Case Study | Research Products
Environment Type: 
Media and Technology, Websites, Mobile Apps, and Online Media, Comics, Books, and Newspapers
Audience: 
Adults | Museum/ISE Professionals | Scientists
Discipline: 
General STEM
Organization:
KQED, Inc., Texas Tech University, College of media and Communication
Description: 

During the course of our ongoing collaboration with KQED, my fellow academic researchers and I have learned that science media professionals are especially interested in improving strategies for headline design, with the goal of increasing audience engagement. Their intuitions about the importance of headlines are supported by research findings. At least when browsing on social media platforms, media consumers often make decisions about whether to engage with stories based only off of the headline. Moreover, headlines influence the way people interpret the story and the impressions they form about the story. It is surprising, then, that there hasn't been much research published in the science communication literature that has aimed to contribute to (or come up with) theories for why different headlines work the way that they do. Therefore, we conducted an experiment to examine whether headline format influences whether someone (a) selects a story to read, (b) anticipates engaging with that story (e.g., commenting, sharing), and/or (c) evaluates the story as more or less credible.

Funder(s): 
NSF
Funding Program: 
AISL
Award Number: 
1811019
Funding Amount: 
$1,932,857
Funder(s): 
NSF
Funding Program: 
AISL
Award Number: 
1810990
Funding Amount: 
$152,034

Team Members

Sue Ellen McCannPrincipal Investigator
Sevda ErisSevda ErisCo-Principal Investigator
Asheley LandrumAsheley LandrumCo-Principal Investigator
Sarah MohamadSarah MohamadProject Manager

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