Texas Tech University



Visual Communication

Often, effective communication isn't just about what is said—it's about what is seen. Visual communication broadly examines the importance of visual elements of the communication process. This can range from the importance of nonverbal communication in social exchanges, to the use of information graphics in newspapers or online news, to the types of visual imagery used in media campaigns, and more. Researchers from across departments in the College of Media & Communication research various aspects of visual communication using a variety of research approaches, including critical analysis, rhetorical analysis, or empirical approaches.

Visual Attention to Televised Debates

 Ever since the first televised debate, researchers have studied the impact of what's shown versus what's said. Researchers from the College of Media & Communication used eye-tracking to explore a new format—the side-by-side presentation of candidates and how facial expressions impact where viewers look and how they judge the event. Their research demonstrates that in politics, what candidates say is only part of how voters form their opinions. Read the full article.

“The Look of Losing”

The 1960 Nixon-Kennedy presidential debate was a landmark moment in American politics. Observers have long explored the importance of Nixon's appearance and how it impacted perceptions of his performance in the televised event. Research from CoMC professor Dr. Erik Bucy draws parallels through history in research exploring the impact of visuals in the 2012 Romney-Obama debate. Read the full article.

Originally published online at Texas Tech Today.

Interpreting Images of Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial topic that sparks passionate debate on all sides of the issue. Media coverage of the issue often relies on visual information when discussing the topic, and the types of images shown can greatly impact public opinion on the topic. Research from CoMC professors shows how using different images such as those reflecting economic benefits versus environmental risks can influence attitudes on the issue. Read the full article. 

Viewer Attention to Graphic Program Advisories

For many parents, controlling what their kids see on television is important but hard. One way television networks try to make this easier is through the program ratings that appear at the start of each show, but many parents report that they don't understand exactly what the ratings mean. Researchers from the College of Media & Communication tested a new type of program rating system that used symbols instead of letters. Using eye tracking, the researchers found that not only did the symbols attract more attention, but parents understood them better. Read the full article. 

Visual Research Faculty

Learn more about CoMC research areas