Bridging the Fear and Hope: A Smartphone Eye-Tracking Examination of the Effects of Hope in Fear-based Health Messages

Abstract: This study used a smartphone eye-tracking approach to examine understudied areas in health communication – hope in fear appeal – when people are exposed to differential emotional shifts with fear and hope on social media. In an image presentation with 4 (fear only vs. fear-then-hope vs. fear and hope vs. hope-then-fear) between-subjects eye-tracking experiment, participants viewed Instagram posts with variation of emotional shifts, then answered a questionnaire containing measures including perceived self-efficacy and intent to engagement of diabetes preventive behavior. Results indicated that emotional shift from fear to hope influences message processing through raising participants’ perceptions of self-efficacy compared to fear-only image social media content. The research also showed that fear-based images increased people’s attention to efficacy information followed by fear and hope, fear-then-hope, and hope-then-fear condition. Implications for health communication theory and practice are further discussed.

Designing for Trust: How Online News Consumers View and Interpret Informational Transparency Boxes

Abstract: A mixed-factorial laboratory eye-tracking experiment (N=90) examined web design’s role in the effectiveness of news transparency informational boxes on drawing consumers’ visual attention and the role of reading process box content in shaping perceptions of the article and publication. Results show that both a no-box design and high-contrast box design drew readers’ attention to information boxes, and that attention to box content situationally affected perceptions of reporting ethics but did not significantly influence credibility.

Do Young Adults Attend to Health Warnings in the First IQOS Advertisement in the U.S.? An Eye-Tracking Approach

In October 2019, a heated tobacco product (HTP) IQOS debuted in the United States. This study examined young adults’ attention and cognitions in response to an IQOS ad that carried two mandated textual health warnings (Surgeon General’s warning and nicotine warning), and how their vaping and smoking status may interact with attention patterns to affect attitude and intention to use IQOS.
In November 2019, college students (N=164) viewed IQOS’ first U.S. magazine ad and two distractor ads. Viewing patterns were recorded with eye-tracking. Masked recall and aided recognition, attitude and intention towards IQOS use were later assessed with self-report. OLS regressions and moderated mediation analyses examined the associations between visual attention and viewers’ cognitions about IQOS use.
Promotional content attracted significantly more attention compared to the warnings. Attention to the Surgeon General’s warning but not to the nicotine warning was associated with recall and recognition of the warning’s content. For ever-vapers, greater attention allocation to the promotional content in the IQOS ad was associated with more favorable attitude toward IQOS use, which was in turn positively associated with intention to use IQOS. Attention allocation to the warnings did not affect attitude or intentions, regardless of tobacco use status.
The results revealed the effects of IQOS promotional content overshadowed the two health warnings in influencing young people’s attitude and intention to use IQOS. Young adults who vaped were more vulnerable to HTP advertising with respect to future use and vaping may be a gateway to HTP use.
Implications: This is the first eye-tracking study examining attention and cognitions associated with the new IQOS ad exposure among young adults. Promotional content in the ad attracted significantly more attention than the two warnings combined. Attention to the Surgeon General’s warning but not to the nicotine warning was associated with recall and recognition of the warning’s content. Greater attention allocation to the promotional content led to more favorable attitude toward IQOS use which was associated with increased intention to use IQOS for ever vapers. However, greater attention allocation to the warnings did not affect attitude or intentions to use IQOS.

How multitasking during video content decreases ad effectiveness: The roles of task relevance, video involvement, and visual attention

Abstract: In a 3 (secondary task: none, related, unrelated) x 2 (ad-video congruence: high/low) between-subjects eye-tracking experiment, participants (N = 151) watched a 9-minute video documentary segment containing one mid-roll video ad while their visual attention to the screen was recorded. Participants in two-thirds of the conditions also read two online articles on a mobile device during the video. Results show effects for both multitasking and task relatedness on attention to the ad and attitudes toward the ad, through distinct pathways.

Invisible transparency: Visual attention to disclosures and source recognition in Facebook political advertising

Abstract: In an effort to improve transparency, Facebook changed its disclosures on in-feed native political advertisements in 2018 to include language that identifies who paid for the ad to appear. The present study (N = 120) utilized a between-participants eye-tracking experiment to assess the impact of three different disclosure conditions on Facebook users’ visual attention to the disclosure, recall of the disclosure, and the ability to identify the sponsor of the advertisement. Findings suggest that while users do give visual attention to Facebook’s new political ad disclosure, the disclosure language is not effective at enhancing users’ comprehension of who paid the political advertisements.

Look around and learn: Effects of 360-degree video in online news

Abstract: In a between-subjects eye-tracking experiment, adult readers of a large metropolitan daily newspaper (N=70) viewed and evaluated one of two versions of the same online news feature: one with an embedded 360-degree video alongside text and images, and the other using exclusively text and static images. Findings show that the presence of 360-degree video increased attitudes toward the article, article credibility, and visual attention to article content, but did not significantly affect recall of the story. The study also shows that individuals higher in technology anxiety were less likely to experience gains in enjoyment and credibility due to format, and that such gains were mediated by spatial presence. Implications for journalism practitioners about uses of 360-degree video alongside text articles are discussed.