Dr. David Clementson
About: Dr. Clementson teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level public relations. His research examines the effects of public figures and politicians dodging questions. When he isn’t on campus teaching, running experiments, and cheering for the Bulldawgs, he loves watching the Atlanta Braves and the Oakland Athletics, and he plays the drums. He and his wife Laura have a son, Edward, who is bilingual in English and Brazilian Portuguese.
Ph.D., Communication, The Ohio State University
M.A., Communication Studies, University of Miami
B.A., Political Science, James Madison University
Research Interests and Activities
Dr. Clementson runs experiments testing how politicians and business spokespersons dodge reporters’ questions and whether audiences notice. He builds theoretical models that explore how the public will cognitively process deception in media interviews. His latest studies assess whether the public can detect when a company spokesperson is dodging questions amidst a company crisis, and the different ways a public figure might deceive audiences. His work has been published in Journal of Communication, Public Relations Review, Political Psychology, Communication Studies, Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Discourse & Communication, Mass Communication and Society, International Journal of Sport Communication and Journal of Political Marketing. His research has also appeared in Politico, NPR, NBC News, the Boston Globe, the Daily Mail, Scientific American, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, the Huffington Post, the New York Post, the Washington Examiner, New York magazine, Psychology Today and Newsweek.
Abstract: This article expands situational crisis communication theory (SCCT) to narrative persuasion. In a randomized experiment featuring a news interview of a scandalized company, an organization’s spokesperson responds to a journalist’s questions through (a) on-topic narratives, (b) off-topic (spinning) narratives, or (c) nonnarrative information. Consistent with SCCT, on-topic narratives and nonnarrative information reduce the public’s […]Read More
Abstract: This paper reports a test and extension of the model posited by the theory of crisis response narratives, in which the public manifests identification with a spokesperson who tells ethical narratives rather than spinning stories. The effect is hypothesized as being mediated through the public perceiving trustworthiness of, and positive attitudes toward, the spokesperson. […]Read More
Abstract: This article applies interpersonal deception theory (IDT) to crisis communication. As strategic communicators, spokespeople representing organizations in crisis often evade questions in media interviews. Upper management and legal counsel tend to prefer evasive language over directly answering questions. Normative crisis communication, however, exhorts honest and straightforward language. In Experiment 1, a company spokesperson either […]Read More
Every two years the International Association of Language and Social Psychology selects a Top Paper Award. This year the award was given to David Clementson for “Truth Bias and Partisan Bias in Political Deception Detection,” Abstract: This study tests the effects of political partisanship on voters’ perception and detection of deception. Based on social identity […]Read More
Clementson, D. E., & Xie, T. (Grady PhD student) (2020, Nov.). Effects of partisan bias on perceptions of evasion in a political news interview. Paper to be presented at the 106th National Communication Association conference, Political Communication division, Indianapolis, IN. Abstract: This paper applies truth-default theory (TDT) to political deception. TDT suggests that people detect deception […]Read More
Clementson, D. E., & Xie, T. (Grady PhD student) (2020, Nov.). Narrative storytelling and anger in crisis communication. Paper to be presented at the 106th National Communication Association conference, Public Relations division, Indianapolis, IN. Abstract: This paper reports a test and extension of the model posited by Heath’s (2004) theory of crisis response narratives, in […]Read More
Clementson, D. E. (2020, Nov.). Narrative persuasion, identification, attitudes, and trustworthiness in crisis communication. Paper to be presented at the 106th National Communication Association conference, Public Relations division, Indianapolis, IN. Abstract: The purpose of this study is to test the effects of narratives in crisis communication. This research assesses how organizations benefit from using stories […]Read More
David Clementson was awarded a $9,800 grant from UGA Office of Research’s “Faculty Seed Grants in the Sciences” for my proposal entitled “Deceptive Evasion in Politics: Addressing a Divide in Research and Reality.”Read More
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to test the effects of narratives in crisis communication. This research assesses how organizations benefit from using stories in their media responses, relative to sharing non-narrative information. The theory of crisis response narratives (Heath, 2004) holds that ethical narratives are effective because they enhance trustworthiness, attitudes toward the […]Read More
David Clementson received a Top Paper Award for “Let Me Tell You Our Side of the Story: Narrative Immersion in a Crisis Communication Media Interview.” Paper to be presented at the 70th International Communication Association conference Mass Communication division, Gold Coast, Australia. Abstract: Drawing upon the concept of parasocial interaction (PSI) with a TV performer, […]Read More
David Clementson received a $500 grant from the Glen M. Broom Center for Professional Development in Public Relations, at San Diego State University to test narrative persuasion strategies and crisis communication in a media relations context.Read More
Abstract: Journalists often accuse politicians of dodging questions. Truth-default theory (TDT) predicts that when journalists serve as de facto deception detectors, the audience will process the messaging through a cognitive sequence that lowers the perceived trustworthiness of the politician. Conversely, the public’s perception of the media as being generally hostile and biased in their reporting […]Read More
Abstract: People are often exposed to polarized viewpoints in web comment sections. Inspired by attribution theory and framing theory, this article tests the effects of comments that frame a politician or a journalist as triggering evasiveness in a media interview. We compare attributions ascribing deceptiveness to the politician versus external attributions implicating the media situation. […]Read More
Abstract: Upwards of 200 studies over the past hundred years have reported on the relationship between public relations practitioners and journalists. However, no experiment has compared the group members’ perceptions when seeing their roles in action. Inspired by frameworks of social identity theory, intergroup deception, and the black sheep effect, we test how public relations […]Read More
Dr. Clementson’s teaching specialties include: introduction to public relations (graduate-level), public relations (honors undergraduate-level), public relations campaigns (undergraduate- and graduate-level) and quantitative research methods.
Dr. Clementson’s public relations and political communication research is inspired by his professional background. He worked in journalism, politics and public relations for about a decade. He was a journalist for newspapers and magazines, primarily covering politics and government. He ran successful political campaigns for Democrats and Republicans in several states along the U.S. East Coast. He also served as a communication director for a public relations, marketing and advertising firm, a professional opposition researcher for politicians, and the director of communication and press secretary for Attorney Generals. Before coming to UGA, Dr. Clementson was an assistant professor of public relations at California State University, Sacramento, where he was a co-advisor to PRSSA.