Obesity Research Cluster
Obesity Research Cluster Leadership
Autumn Shafer, Ph.D.
My research agenda focuses on the intersection of communication, persuasion, and health behavior theories. I have two complimentary streams of research: (1) theory-based health communication campaign design and evaluation and (2) individual message processing and effects, specifically related to health outcomes and narratives. I enjoy working on health communication campaigns because these projects provide a bridge between research and application. My lab-based research investigates the effects of exposure to mass media on health-related beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Although much research has examined the harmful effects of popular media on health behaviors, I have explored the possibility that media may also positively influence health, especially when health messages are embedded within an engaging narrative. My principal topical focus is sexual health among adolescents, although I have also studied health messages about tobacco, HPV vaccination, diabetes, and eating disorders. I often approach research questions from an interdisciplinary perspective that draws from communication, public health, social psychology, and consumer behavior.