Dr. Michael Cacciatore

Co-Director, Center for Health & Risk Communication; Associate Professor, Public Relations

About: Dr. Cacciatore teaches research methodology and introduction to public relations in the Department of Advertising & Public Relations. His research focuses on science and risk communication with an emphasis on media coverage of and opinion formation for such topics.

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Ph.D., Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.S., Life Sciences Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., English, University of Manitoba

Research Interests and Activities

Dr. Cacciatore’s research has examined the communication of science and risk topics ranging from nanotechnology to food safety to global climate change. A significant portion of this research has tracked media depictions of science and risk issues, paying particular attention to the role of social media in the communication process. His other research has focused most directly on the interplay between media, values and risk in public opinion formation. Dr. Cacciatore’s work has been published in Public Understanding of Science, Science Communication, Risk Analysis, New Media & Society, and Health Affairs among others.

The Landscape of Misinformation about Science … Revisited Michael Cacciatore

Invited panelist at the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee for Addressing Inaccurate and Misleading Information about Biological Threats through Scientific Collaboration and Communication, online. Dr. Cacciatore served as an invited panelist to discuss the issue of misinformation as it relates to biological threats. His comments focus on lessons learned over the past […]

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Measuring the value of public relations: An international investigation at how communication practitioners view the challenges and suggest solutions Michael Cacciatore and Juan Meng

Abstract This research is motivated to advance our understanding of measurement challenges in communication practice and coping strategies from a global perspective. To do so, we relied on data from a global online survey of communication practitioners in more than 20 countries, which result in five country clusters for final analysis and comparisons. Communication practitioners […]

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Engaging Multicultural Audiences through Inclusive STEM Content on YouTube Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and Michael Cacciatore

PIs: Adam Dylewski (PBS Digital Studios; Project PI); Sara K. Yeo (University of Utah; Co-PI); Michael A. Cacciatore (University of Georgia; Co-PI) Funding Source: National Science Foundation (#DRL-2120006) Total Amount: $2,499,320 Dates: August 2021 – July 2024 Project Summary: This grant is a collaboration between PBS Digital Studios, the University of Georgia, and the University […]

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UGA Transdisplinary Earth System Science for Global Solutions and Public Engagement (ENGAGE) Michael Cacciatore and Glen Nowak

Michael Cacciatore and Glen Nowak are part of a $2,974,744 five-year University of Georgia proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation to create a UGA Transdisplinary Earth System Science for Global Solutions and Public Engagement (ENGAGE). Mike is a Co-PI on the proposal, which includes a core component related to improving science communication training.

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Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Response (CIERR) Michael Cacciatore, Glen Nowak, Glenna Read, Bartosz Wojdynski & Itai Himelboim

Glen Nowak, Michael Cacciatore, Bart Wojdynski, Glenna Read, and Itai Himelboim are part of a University of Georgia proposal submitted in response to a National Institutes of Health call for proposals to establish Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Response (CIERR). As part of UGA’s proposal to establish a UGA Center for Influenza Disease […]

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The science of #scicomm: On emotion and humor. Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: Emotional appeals are encouraged when engaging with public audiences. Yet, we lack evidence of the effectiveness of using such appeals in science communication. Here we present current research on emotion and humor in online science communication. This presentation will provide an overall summary of current research in the science of science communication, knowledge about […]

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The effect of science comedy on perceptions of scientists and scientific messages. Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: Humor is an important conduit for public engagement with science that is often recommended for scientists looking to conduct communication activities despite relatively little empirical evidence demonstrating its effectiveness. Here, we examine the social environment of a joke through a two-condition experimental design that manipulates the presence or absence of audience laughter. Specifically, we […]

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Laughing with science: The influence of audience approval on engagement. Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: While there is mounting evidence that humor can be an effective means of engaging publics, much remains to be learned about the contextual factors that shape how audiences receive and process humorous scientific content. Analyzing data from a controlled experiment, this study explores the differential impact of exposure to stand-up comedy featuring a scientist […]

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How attributes of humorous scientific messages predict engagement on Twitter and Instagram Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: The use of humor is increasingly advocated as a means of enhancing the effectiveness and visibility of science messages on social media. However, the influence of humorous scientific content on user engagement is empirically unknown. The contribution of this study is threefold. First, we conduct a content analysis of humorous scientific posts on Twitter […]

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Understanding flu vaccination attitudes and behaviors: Exploring a measure of health decision-making preferences. Michael Cacciatore and Glen Nowak

Abstract: Annual influenza vaccination has been recommended for all adults in the United States since 2010, but coverage estimates indicate that less than half of American adults complied during the 2018-19 flu season. A number of studies have assessed the correlates of adult influenza vaccination attitudes and behaviors, but stagnating flu vaccination rates suggest new […]

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Laughing with Science: The influence of audience approval on engagement Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: While there is mounting evidence that humor can be an effective means of engaging publics, much remains to be learned about the contextual factors that shape how audiences receive and process humorous scientific content. Analyzing data from a controlled experiment (N = 217), this study explores the differential impact of exposure to stand-up comedy […]

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Misinformation and public opinion of science and health: Approaches, findings, and future directions. Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: This work summarizes the misinformation literature in the context of science and health. The public opinion work in this space reveals inconsistencies in how the term has been defined and operationalized. A diverse set of methodologies have been employed to study the phenomenon, with virtually all such work identifying misinformation as a cause for […]

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The landscape of mis(dis)information about science. Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: This presentation is a broad overview of the issue of misinformation as it relates to public understanding of science and the communication of scientific information with public audiences. The presentation is based on a paper I am currently producing for the National Academy of Sciences on the same topic. Link to Presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQZGLe5xl6g

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Dissecting the Root of Vaccine Misinformation on Pinterest: A Content Analysis of Vaccine-Related Pins by Influential Social Media Accounts Michael Cacciatore and Yan Jin

Abstract: Given the role the Internet plays in communicating anti-vaccine sentiments, coupled with limited research in this area, this study focused on the social media platform Pinterest, analyzing 1,119 vaccine-related pins posted by six anti-vaccine entities through a quantitative content analysis. Findings reveal that anti-vaccine organizations primarily posted about the flu, MMR, and HPV vaccines, […]

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Media Science and Practice Michael Cacciatore and Glen Nowak

Abstract: Given their influence and visibility, understanding how news media cover topics involving medicines and how they provide information to their target audiences is essential when it comes to medicinal product risk communication research. While information about health and medicine are found in entertainment and social media, this chapter introduces media science with a focus, […]

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Otherization of Africa: How American media framed people with HIV/AIDS in Africa from 1987 to 2017. Michael Cacciatore and Ivanka Pjesivac

Abstract: This study examined otherization framing of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa in American print news from 1987-2007. The results of a content analysis of a representative sample of news articles from three outlets (N=421) show that American media overwhelmingly used otherization frames throughout the 20-year period, resulting in a large percentage of negatively […]

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The 2014-15 U.S. measles outbreak and parents’ vaccination beliefs, confidence, and intentions Michael Cacciatore, Glen Nowak & Nathaniel J. Evans

Abstract: While it seems intuitive that highly visible vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks should impact perceptions of disease risk and facilitate vaccination, few empirical studies exist to confirm or dispel these beliefs. This study investigates the impact of the 2014-15 Disneyland measles outbreak on parents’ vaccination attitudes and future vaccination intentions. The analysis relies on a pair […]

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Inadequate and incomplete: Chinese newspapers’ coverage of the first licensed human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in China Michael Cacciatore and Glen Nowak

Abstract: Glaxo Smith Kline’s Cervarix was the first human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine licensed for use in China in July 2016 and officially launched there on July 31, 2017. Since news media content can influence people’s vaccine-related knowledge, understanding, and intentions, a content analysis was used to examine the information conveyed to the public about the […]

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Is Facebook making us dumber? Exploring social media use as a predictor of political knowledge Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: With social networking site (SNS) use now ubiquitous in American culture, researchers have started paying attention to its effects in a variety of domains. This study explores the relationships between measures of Facebook use and political knowledge levels using a pair of representative samples of U.S. adults. We find that although the mere use […]

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Teaching Specialties

Dr. Cacciatore has taught courses in research methodology, data analysis, risk communication, and social marketing, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.


Dr. Cacciatore has extensive research experience, including work on several large-scale, National Science Foundation-funded research grants. He has presented research findings at major communication conferences, and has published reports for groups like the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Most recently, Dr. Cacciatore co-wrote a funded grant that will investigate humor effects in the context of science communication.

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Cacciatore, Michael
In the News

Michael Cacciatore awarded $2.5 million grant for research

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Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching: Michael Cacciatore

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Public skepticism would likely greet a new Zika vaccine, study says

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New survey shows only half of people plan to get flu shots this year

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