Dr. Michael Cacciatore

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 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 (Radovic) 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.

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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