Dr. Michael Cacciatore

Assistant 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.

Comparative Research in Public Relations Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: This presentation will focus on the Global Study of Leadership in Public Relations and Communication Management (Berger & Meng, 2014) (a.k.a., the “Global Leadership Study”), a survey of more than 4,000 practitioners across 23 countries and nine languages. The presentation will specifically discuss the challenges associated with coordinating a multi-country data collection from one […]

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It’s Complicated Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: Shared findings related to the issue of American parental opinion toward the issue of childhood vaccinations, including work from recent publications dealing with the 2014-15 Disneyland measles outbreak and work that compares vaccine opinion to other related children’s health interventions.

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Effects of source credibility via social media on the risk perception and purchase intention of American millennials towards genetically modified foods Juan Meng and Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: Source credibility has been an important area of research in persuasive communications for quite some time. In the risk communication literature, source cues have been found to impact both individual food risk perceptions and food purchase intentions (e.g., Frewer, Howard, Hedderley, & Shepherd, 1997; Phillips & Hallman, 2013). The rapid development of genetic engineering technology […]

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Parents’ Confidence in Recommended Childhood Vaccinations Glen Nowak and Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: There has been significant and growing interest in vaccine hesitancy and confidence in the United States as well as across the globe. While studies have used confidence measures, few studies have provided in-depth assessments and no studies have assessed parents’ confidence in vaccines in relationship to other frequently recommended health-related products for young children. […]

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Emerging sources of scientific information Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: Scientific and technological innovations touch every corner of American life. By informing the economy, health and medicine, national resources and their use, scientific information deeply influences the choices made by Americans about how they live their lives and contribute to society. Recent polling data from Pew Research Center reveal a complex relationship among citizens and […]

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Information flow and leadership challenges Juan Meng and Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: How to effectively manage information flow continues presenting challenges for public relations practice, reflecting the magnitude and impact of a data-driven and strategy-oriented market environment globally. To echo this emerging global trend and identify effective responsive strategies, this study explores public relations practitioners’ perceptions on the impact of information flow and digital revolution on their […]

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The lure of rationality Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: Historically, science communication has been predicated on the assumption that ignorance is the basis of a lack of societal support for various issues in science and technology. This model, known as the knowledge deficit model of science communication, has led much of the subsequent research in the field to explore the concept of science literacy. […]

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Measuring the value of PR Michael Cacciatore and Juan Meng

Abstract: The measurement and evaluation of public relations has undoubtedly emerged as one of the most critical issues facing both practitioners and the PR industry as a whole. In this study, we seek to better understand the problems facing public relations leaders, focusing specifically on the issue of measurement as a method of demonstrating the value […]

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Disease outbreak and public opinion Michael Cacciatore, Glen Nowak & Nathaniel J. Evans

Abstract: To many, the 2014-15 measles outbreak was a sobering reminder of the dangers of delaying and declining childhood vaccinations. The outbreak, which originated at a theme park in California, has been linked to more than 140 cases of measles, with the majority of those cases among people who had either not been vaccinated or had […]

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Dissecting the Root of Vaccine Misinformation on Pinterest Sungsu Kim, Michael Cacciatore & Yan Jin

Abstract: This study employs a quantitative content analysis approach to the issue of vaccines, analyzing a total of 1,000 vaccine-related pins posted by four anti-vaccine organizations (Mercola, Natural News, Health Impact News, and GreenMedInfo) on the social media platform “Pinterest”. Pinterest was chosen as a platform to explore given the high percentage of active female […]

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Building Trust Bryan H. Reber and Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: Trust is essential in dealing with publics. Since 2000, Edelman has measured what drives trust across organizations and countries, comparing the perceived importance of trust drivers between a group of developed economies and a group of emerging economies over a five-year timeframe. Overall, the longitudinal comparison from 2011 to 2015 examined which drivers — including […]

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Exploring the Impact of the U.S. Measles Outbreak on Parental Awareness and Support for Vaccination Michael Cacciatore, Glen Nowak & Nathaniel J. Evans

Cacciatore, M. A., Nowak, G., & Evans, N. (Forthcoming). Exploring the impact of the US measles outbreak on parental awareness and support for vaccinations. Health Affairs. Abstract: Despite consensus among health officials that childhood immunizations are a safe and effective means of protecting people from disease, there remains parent vaccine hesitancy. This hesitancy has been linked to lack of confidence in recommendedvaccinations as well as vaccine delay and refusal. Using a pair of national surveys of parents of children 5 […]

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The end of framing as we know it Michael Cacciatore

Abstract: Framing has become one of the most popular areas of research for scholars in communication and a wide variety of other disciplines, such as psychology, behavioral economics, political science and sociology. Particularly in the communication discipline, however, ambiguities surrounding how we conceptualize and therefore operationalize framing have begun to overlap with other media effects models […]

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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.

Cacciatore, Michael
In the News

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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