May 2023

PPC LAB at ICA conference in Toronto


Our Lab will be present with papers at the ICA conference in Toronto, Canada again this year. We will present 5 papers, and in addition, another paper by Pascal Merz on Social Media Influencers has been accepted at the Environmental Communication Division PhD event. 


The following papers will be presented in Toronto:


Merz, P., & von Sikorski, C. (2023). Act now! How social media Influencers' climate change communication affects collective environmental action intentions. Paper presentation (Environmental Communication division) at the annual conference of the International Communication Association Conference (ICA), May 25-29, 2023, Toronto, Canada.

von Sikorski, C. (2023). The Greta Thunberg effect revisited: News about Greta Thunberg’s climate activism increases collective efficacy beliefs and predicts collective action intentions. Paper presentation (Environmental Communication division) at the annual conference of the International Communication Association Conference (ICA), May 25-29, 2023, Toronto, Canada.

Christner, C., Merz, P., Barkela, B., Jungkunst, H., & von Sikorski, C. (2023). Combatting climate disinformation: Comparing the effectiveness of correction placement and type. Paper presentation (Environmental Communication division) at the annual conference of the International Communication Association Conference (ICA), May 25-29, 2023, Toronto, Canada.

Kubin, E., & von Sikorski, C. (2023). The polarizing content warning: How the media can reduce affective polarization. Paper presentation (Journalism Studies division) at the annual conference of the International Communication Association Conference (ICA), May 25-29, 2023, Toronto, Canada.

Kubin, E., & von Sikorski, C. (2023). Reducing political dehumanization by pairing facts with personal experiences. Paper presentation (Mass Communication division) at the annual conference of the International Communication Association Conference (ICA), May 25-29, 2023, Toronto, Canada.



April 2023

Emily Kubin successfully defended her dissertation


Emily Kubin recently defended her dissertation "Understanding the Role of Media in Political Divisions and Re-Imagining How We Can Bridge Divides" with great success.
The PPC Lab sincerely congratulates her on this great success! Very well done Emily!


The committee included Dr. Christian von Sikorski as first reviewer, Dr. Stephan Winter the second reviewer, and Dr. Michaela Maier as chair of the committee. 


OCtober 2022

Special Issue on Social Media Influencers


We are excited to announce that we will guest edit a special issue at American Behavioral Scientist on "Social Media Influencers: Content and Effects on Citizens’ Attitudes and Behavior". The guest editorial team consists of Raffael Heiss (MCI Innsbruck), Kathrin Karsay, and Desirée Schmuck (KU Leuven) as well as Pascal and Christian.


We are looking forward to receive abstracts by December 15, 2022 (see full call for papers for more information and timeline see here)




NEW Editorial Board Membership


Christian was recently invited to join the editorial board of the academic journal Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research.


May 2022

Emily wins publication award

Emily’s first-author paper “Personal experiences bridge moral and political divides better than facts” was awarded the Behavioral Science and Policy Association Publication Award for Innovation in Behavioral Policy. This award is given to research that advances the rigorous application and development of behavioral and social science to policy and practice in public, private, and non-profit sections. The goal of this award is to encourage work that has the potential to improve the quality of life of individuals and/or organizations. 


Congrats Emily!



March 2022

Papers accepted at ISPP 2022 in Athens

Good news! Two papers were accepted for the upcoming ISPP conference in Athens, Greece. Congrats everybody!


Kubin, E., von Sikorski, C., & Gray, K. (2022). Understanding and reducing the censorship of political opponents. Paper presentation at the 45nd annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP), July 14-17, 2022, Athens, Greece.  


von Sikorski, C. (2022). The Greta Thunberg effect revisited: News about Greta Thunberg’s climate activism increase collective efficacy beliefs and predict collective action intentions. Paper presentation at the 45nd annual scientific meeting of the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP), July 14-17, 2022, Athens, Greece.



(Social)Media & POlarization: New open Access Paper

The Journal Annals of the International Communication Association recently published Emily's and Christian's review paper (open access) on "The role of (social) media in political polarization".


In the paper they systematically examine 94 articles (121 studies) that assess the role of (social) media in shaping political polarization. Using quantitative and qualitative approaches, they find an increase in research over the past 10 years and consistently find that pro-attitudinal media exacerbates polarization. They find a hyperfocus on analyses of Twitter and American samples and a lack of research exploring ways (social) media can depolarize. Additionally, they find ideological and affective polarization are not clearly defined, nor consistently measured. Recommendations for future research are provided.



Also, our research was discussed at Tech Policy podcast (w/Justin Hendrix). Emily spoke to Justin, the podcast is called "A Whistleblower, Facebook, Social Media & Polarization" and can accessed here.


May 2021

New paper: How do journalists cover terrorism?

The journal Journalism recently published our paper in which we examined how Muslims are depicted in connection with Islamist terrorism and to what extent journalists use undifferentiated coverage – that actively links Muslims to terrorism – and differentiated coverage that actively differentiates Muslims from terrorism. We conducted a quantitative content analysis (12 quality/tabloid newspapers from three countries, N = 1071 articles). Results reveal that undifferentiated coverage occurs in almost every other article. Differentiation occurs much less. Tabloids use undifferentiated and differentiated coverage in fact-oriented and opinion-oriented articles. Quality news only do so in opinion-oriented articles. Proximity of a terror event resulted in more undifferentiated and less differentiated coverage. Results have important implications for journalism practice, terrorism research and intergroup relations. Check out the paper (open access) here.



February 2021

New Consulting Editor FOr European Journal of Social Psychology

Christian was recently invited to serve as Consulting Editor for the European Journal of Social Psychology. Christian's term started January 1st 2021 and he will be refereeing manuscripts in the field of political psychology.

Feburary 2021

ISPP: Successful Submissions

Two submissions accepted at the annual conference for the International Society for Political Psychology (ISPP)

Emily’s project (co-authors: Curtis Puryear and Kurt Gray, University of North Carolina) entitled “The Power of Personal Experience (not Facts) in Reducing Political Polarization: Implications for Scientists” was accepted for a data blitz presentation.


Christian’s paper entitled “Protection or Disappointment? How the Interplay of Scandal Severity and Party Identification Affects Emotional Reactions and the Evaluation of Scandalous Politicians” was accepted for paper presentation.


February 2021

Three Presentations at SPSP 2021

Two projects Emily is involved in were recently presented by her collaborator Kurt Gray at the Society of Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Conference. They are entitled: 

1.    "From timeless myths to personal meaning: The Benefits of the Hero’s Journey as a Narrative Frame.” 

2.    Personal Experiences Bridge Moral and Political Divides Better Than Facts”.


Additionally, Emily presented her poster at SPSP entitled 

3.    “Political opponents are condemned and dehumanized when they seem indifferent to realistic but not symbolic risks: Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic”


January 2021


Emily’s paper “Personal Experiences Bridge Moral and Political Divides Better Than Facts” was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (see below for more information).


The paper has received lots of attention by people both in and outside of the research community, in fact Altmetric indicates the paper’s attention score is in the top 5% of all papers ever tracked (over 16,000,000 papers!). Further, the paper has been featured in multiple news sources including the esteemed USA Today.  


Together with a team of researchers (Curtis Puryear, U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chelsea Schein, Wharton School of Business, U of Pennsylvania, and Kurt Gray, U of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Emily finds that people believe sharing facts (i.e., data, and statistics) with opponents will foster mutual respect, but 15 studies across multiple political issues, methodologies and with 7,250 participants reveal these beliefs are mistaken. Political opponents respect adversaries who base their beliefs on personal experiences, not facts. The respect-inducing power of personal experiences is revealed by survey studies on a variety of contentious political topics, with representative samples, a field study of conversations about guns, an analysis of YouTube comments on abortion opinion videos, and an archival analysis of 137 transcripts from Fox News and CNN interviews. Personal experiences most likely to encourage respect by opponents are issue-relevant and involve harm. Further, mediation analyses reveal these experiences drive respect by increasing perceptions of rationality.




December 2020

Christian invited to The EDitorial board of the Journal of Social Psychology

Christian was recently invited to serve on the Editorial Board for The Journal of Social Psychology. JSP is a bimonthly academic journal covering social psychology and was established in 1929. Christian's term will start January 1st 2021. He will be evaluating manuscripts with a political psychology focus as well as papers dealing with media effects in political communication.

october 2020

new paper (open access) in IJPP

The International Journal of Press/Politics recently published Christian's article reporting about the effects of Donald Trump's anti-German statements in the news. Hostile statements about Germany increase EU's popularity among Germans and, in turn, increase anti-Americanism in Germany. The data also shows that political interest serves as an important moderator. Read the paper here.

September 2020

TOP10 in Germany

We are pleased to announce that the Institute for Communication Psychology at University Koblenz-Landau (at Landau)  – and thus the Political Psychology & Communication Lab – has been included in the Shanghai University Ranking in the field of “Media and Communication” for the first time and was ranked in the German TOP10 (between position 6 and 8, depending on the criterion). Worldwide, our institute is among the best 150 universities in the field of media and communication. 


Congrats everyone!



JULY 2020

The Alfred Freiherr von Oppenheim foundation will fund the project "MediA: (Social) Media and anti-Semitic attitudes in Germany" (PI: CvS). Within the next year, we will examine how contents in classic news media outlets as well as contents on social media platforms, e.g., Facebook and WhatsApp can contribute to both an increase but also a reduction of anti-Semitic attitudes in German citizens. One of the aims of the project is to find ways how journalistic news coverage can reduce anti-Semitic views and attitudes, e.g., in the context of news coverage about Israel or the Middle East conflict in German news media.


April 2020

New paper in JMCQ

In this new paper "Scandalous?! Examining the differential effects of news coverage about (non-)severe political misconduct", which was recently published OnlineFirst in the journal Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly I examine the role of scandal severity. I expected that scandal severity may affect public perceptions of both scandalous political actors and news sources reporting political misconduct. The results of two experiments revealed that severe scandals hurt politicians and weaken voting intentions. Although non-severe scandals have no such effects, they increased news consumers' exaggerated scandalization perceptions and indirectly degraded news source evaluations. Severe scandals had no effect on the news source. Implications for the coverage of political scandals are discussed. The paper can be accessed (paywall) here.

March 2020


I was recently interviewed by Süddeutsche Zeitung’s news portal for young readers ( on the political implications of the Corona epidemic. The interview can be accessed here (German language)

November 2019

Fresh from the press... new open access article in political psychology

I am happy to announce that our panel study (together with Raffael Heiss from Innsbruck and Jörg Matthes from Vienna) on the eroding and spillover effects of political scandals recently appeared in Political Psychology. The article is Open Access and available online for free (link).


We tested the effects of a political scandal in the context of the 2017 Austrian Parliamentary Elections using panel data. The data set is unique. We were able to collect data before and just after a major scandal broke in the final election phase. Our results show a scandal-eroding effect particularly damaging a candidate's own base of supporters leaving followers in disappointment. We also find a scandal spillover effect for candidate supporters high in scandal knowledge decreasing trust toward other politicians.

Check out the article here.


2019 Gene Burd Top paper award

I am very happy to announce that we (Desi Schmuck, University of Vienna and I) received this years Gene Burd Top Paper Award at AEJMC's annual conference (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication) in Toronto, Canada. We received the award for our paper "Social Bots as a Threat for Digital Democracy? How News Coverage Can Empower Media Users". 

JULY 2019

New open access article in political communication

The journal Political Communication recently published our article "A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Cross-Cutting Exposure on Political Participation". The meta-analysis examined potential negative or positive effects between individuals' cross-cutting exposure and their political participation. First, we find that there is no such relationship. Second, the null relationship cannot be explained by variations in the characteristics of cross-cutting environments, participation outcomes, or methods employed. Taken together, these results should alleviate concerns about negative effects of cross-cutting exposure. See the full article here (no paywall).

JUNE 2019


Great news! At this years International Communication Association's (ICA) conference (Washington D.C.), I received the TOP Faculty Paper Award of the Journalism Studies division (as lead author, together with Desirée Schmuck, Jörg Matthes, Claudia Klobasa, Helena Kupfer, & Melli Saumer, all: U of Vienna, Austria). We received the award for our paper "Do journalists differentiate between Muslims and Islamist terrorists? A content analysis of terrorism news coverage". Time to celebrate!

JUNE 2019

DEP of Communication, U of Vienna ranked 13 in the world

My former department at University of Vienna was recently ranked top 13 in the world. This is really impressive and a massive increase after rank 41 in 2017 and rank 26 in 2018. I am proud to have spent four years of my academic life at this research institution. More infos here. 

May 2019

New Paper (Open Access) in Media Psychology

The journal Media Psychology recently published our new paper "Not Practicing What They Preached!". In the paper, we tested how ex-politicians' hypocritical behavior affects their former party as well as spillover effects on the political elite more generally. In two experiments we tested what happens when a political actor leaves the political arena and then acts in fundamental opposition to standpoints he originally campaigned for while still in office. We find that an ex-politician's hypocritical behavior (i.e., working for a controversial company after leaving politics) severely damages his former party as well as citizens' political trust toward the political elite more generally. Importantly, these spillover effects can be explained by both an attitudinal as well as an emotional process. The article appeared open access and can be accessed for free here.

APRIL 2019


A new chapter (together with Jürgen Maier and Carolin Jansen) on the media framing of the plagiarism scandal of former German Secretary of Defense Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg appeared in the The Routledge Companion to Media and Scandal edited by Howard Tumber and Silvio Waisbord. In the study, we compare the framing of five German newspapers (FR, SZ, FAZ, Die Welt, BILD). Results show that Guttenberg's coverage in the German tabloid BILD was much more positive compared to all other newspapers.

April 2019

invited Talk on "Threatening News" & Effects of Terrorism CoveraGe

On Friday and Saturday (April 5/6), I joined a very exciting workshop funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at University of Stuttgart, Germany. The workshop "Perceived threats and their consequences for political attitudes and behaviour" was organized by Eva-Maria Trüdinger (University of Stuttgart, Germany). Scholars from different areas examining threat and threat perceptions presented their work. I gave an invited talk ("Threatening news: Examining the effects of terror news on anti-Muslim attitudes, policy preferences, and political attitudes") on the role of terrorism news for citizens' threat perceptions.

APRIL 2019

new job: assistant professor of political psychology

I am very happy to announce that I started my new position as Assistant Professor of Political Psychology (tenure track) at the Institute for Communication Psychology and Media Education  University Koblenz-Landau (at Landau), Germany. I am really looking forward to working with my new colleagues in Landau! My research and teaching will focus on political psychology and political communication. 

February 2019

Paper published in political psychology

The journal Political Psychology recently published our paper entitled "Terror, Terror Everywhere? How Terrorism News Shape Support for Anti‐Muslim Policies as a Function of Perceived Threat Severity and Controllability".

We used a quota‐based online experiment (N = 501) revealing that news articles featuring a high number of offenders increase individuals' fear of terror irrespective of whether the threat was portrayed as controllable or not. News articles featuring a low number of offenders only evoked fear of terror if the threat was portrayed as diffuse. Additionally, news articles emphasizing a high number of offenders combined with a controllable terrorism threat elicited anger on the government. Both anger and fear of terror subsequently increased anti‐Muslim policy support.

The paper is open access and available here.

january 2019

new papaer on multimodal framing effects

International Journal of Communication recently published our paper (together with Johannes Knoll): "Framing Political Scandals: Exploring the Multimodal Effects of Isolation Cues in Scandal News Coverage on Candidate Evaluations and Voting Intentions". It is available open access here.


Article Published Online First in Communication research

The journal Communication Research recently published our article "The Islamic State in the News: Journalistic Differentiation of Islamist Terrorism From Islam, Terror News Proximity, and Islamophobic Attitudes". The paper (open access) is available here.


research paper covered in US-Based Science Magazine

INVERSE covered our study recently published in Media Psychology.

The article "Psychology Explains How Taylor Swift Caused a Surge in US Vote Registration" can be accessed here.


Research mentioned in "the Conversation"

An article in the international media outlet "The Conversation" reports about one of our studies on the effects of news differentiation between Islam and terrorism on Islamophobic attitudes. The article describes the importance of explicitly differentiating between Islam/Muslims and Terrorism in news reports. See the article here:



AEJMC conference Washington D.c.

Top Article Award for the best paper (von Sikorski, C., Schmuck, D., Matthes, J., & Binder, A., 2017. “Muslims are not Terrorists”: Islamic State Coverage, Journalistic Differentiation between Terrorism and Islam, Fear Reactions, and Attitudes toward Muslims. Mass Communication and Society, 20(6), 825-848) published in the Journal Mass Communication & Society in 2017. Jörg (middle) and I (right) with Matthew Barnidge who also received an AEJMC award this year.


Interview on political scandals in "DER FALTER"



GUEST EDITORS: Sigurd allern & Christian von Sikorski


Department of Communication, U of Vienna RANKED 26th in the world

According to the current ShanghaiRanking of universities around the world the Department of Communication, University of Vienna is ranked 26th in the world. There are only six non-US institutions among the top 30 communication schools.



More good news: I recently received this years teaching award from Department of Psychology, U of Koblenz-Landau in Germany for the course Communication & Media Psychology.



Great news: My paper (together with Desirée Schmuck, Jörg Matthes, & Alice Binder) received this years TOP PAPER AWARD for the best article published in 2017 in the journal Mass Communication and Society. The paper "Muslims are not Terrorists": Islamic State Coverage, Journalistic Differentiation Between Terrorism and Islam, Fear Reactions, and Attitudes Toward Muslims examines the effects of terrorism news coverage from a political psychology perspective and shows that news differentiation can prevent Islamophobic attitudes in news recipients.



papers presented at ICA conference in Prague

This years conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) took lace in Prague. I presented two meta-analyses, one dealing with the effects of political scandals, and another paper (together with Jörg Matthes, Johannes Knoll, Sebastián Valenzuela, David Hopmann) on cross-cutting exposure and political participation. 



At this years conference on scandology in Bamberg I presented a paper on the effects of political scandals from a political psychology perspective. 

Key results of the paper were featured in the news (ARD, Bayern 2)



A chapter on the political psychology of political scandals was recently published in the anthology "Scandology". Among other aspects, the chapter focuses on scandals and political trust, the role of individual predispositions such as cynicism and connects political scandals to research in political populism. 

For more information (click here):

january 2018

papers accepted for ica conference 2018

Two papers for the annual conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) were accepted for presentation at the 2018 conference in Prague (Czech Republic). One of the papers presents a meta-analytical review on the effects of political scandals. The second paper is a meta analysis of the effects of cross-cutting exposure on political participation. Looking forward to Prague 2018!


Meta-analysis on "spiral of Silence"

The journal Communication Research published a meta-analytical study on the the spiral of silence. The study is based on 66 studies and shows a significant positive relationship (r = .10; Zr = .10) between opinion climate and opinion expression. The paper is available here:


NEW PAPER published IN Media psychology

Media Psychology published a paper dealing with the role of social media postings of scandalous celebrity endorsers and effects on the perception of political candidates. The paper is published open access and is available for free here:



VIENNA: This semester I will be teaching a Scientific Skills course introducing students to various aspects of research in academia including writing abstracts, papers, submission of manuscripts to journals, the role of scientific impact factors. We will also discuss about GOOD and BAD science. I will teach the course together with Loes Aaldering (U of Vienna).

Furthermore, my lecture on Data Collection and Research Designs will focus on research methods in communication science. Among other topics, the lecture will focus on various forms of content analyses; it will also consist of a special session with Dr. Jin Song (U of Vienna), who is an expert on automated content analyses.

Both of the classes are part of U of Vienna's prestigious research master program in Communication Science.

LANDAU: In Landau I will teach four courses this semester and a lecture on research methods and designs.


Research Methods and Designs: This lecture is an introduction to methods and research designs commonly used in the social sciences and communication science.


Bachelor Colloquium: Introduces scientific skills to students and participants will have the opportunity to present their ideas (and get feedback) for their individual thesis in class. 


Master Colloquium: Students present their work related to their individual thesis in class and get feedback.


Market- and Media Research (I will teach this course twice in the fall semester): It deals with question how one communicates with a target group effectively. Participants will create own communication strategies and present them in class.




The 10th Media Psychology conference of the Media Psychology division of the German Psychological Society took place in Landau (Germany) this year. International researchers from all areas of media psychology presented their work. Together with Johannes Knoll I presented a paper on the role of serialization of political scandals and effects on news consumers. Main finding: News consumers' attitudes toward politicians involved in scandals are more negative when the news media presents scandalous information bit by bit instead of all at once.

I also served as the chair of the "Media and the Political Sphere" session at the conference.


AEJMC Conference, chicago

At this years conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) I presented three research papers dealing with the Spiral of Silence, effects of political scandals, and the effects of terrorism news on news consumers.

MAY 2017

ICA conference, san diego

The annual convention of the International Communication Association (ICA) took place in San Diego (California) this year. Two of my presentations dealt with the effects of political scandals and one with the role of terrorism coverage and effects on news recipients.