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!


September 2020

Paper accepted at SPSP 2021 Annual Convention


We are very happy to announce that Emily's paper (together with Frank Kachanoff and Kurt Gray from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ) "Political opponents are condemned and dehumanized when they seem to indifferent to realistic but not symbolic risks: Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic" was recently accepted for presentation (poster) at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in February 2021 (virtual conference). 
This project provides a unique perspective for understanding the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, understanding what people think about those who disagree with their stance on appropriate pandemic measures. We find that pro-lockdown/ pro-social distancing participants believe opponents do not care about realistic threats (e.g., people dying), and anti-lockdown/anti-social distancing participants believe opponents do not care about symbolic threats (e.g., loss of constitutional rights). However, it is only beliefs that opponents disregard realistic threats that leads people to morally condemn and dehumanize their opponents. In subsequent studies we establish an intervention in which pro-lockdown/pro-social distancing participants learn their opponents care about both symbolic and realistic threats, which reduces the extent to which participants view their adversaries as immoral and subhuman. This study provides a pathway to reduce animosity between those who disagree on appropriate pandemic measures, providing insight into how we can bridge divides in era of the COVID-19 pandemic.

september 2020

New LAB Member Pascal Merz

A warm welcome to our new lab member Pascal Merz. Pascal's research focuses on political communication with an emphasis on political polarization. Also, he is part of the funded research project on (social) media and anti-Semitic attitudes. 




August 2020

3 New Papers out

Three new papers were recently published:  


1. The paper "Perceived threats from social bots: The media's role in supporting literacy." appeared in Computers in Human Behavior. Desirée Schmuck and Christian find that news reports about social bots in election campaigns, which do not convey information to support literacy, increased news consumers’ perceived threats for their online political information behavior. In contrast, when news reports included information to support literacy about social bots, these threats were reduced, which could be explained by an increase of perceived behavioral control.    


2. Christian’s paper together with a group of researchers led by Jörg Matthes from University of Vienna as well as Desirée Schmuck from Munich appeared in the journal Journalism Studies. In the paper, we examine how news outlets from three different European countries reported about Islamist terrorism. The open access paper can be viewed here.    


3. Christian’s paper on the role of scandal severity recently appeared in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. Christian shows in two experimental studies that scandal severity crucially matters for both citizens’ voting intentions and their assessments of the source reporting about a (non-)severe scandal. The paper can be accessed here.  



July 2020

New 2020 Shanghai Ranking out

The Department of Communication at University of Vienna (Christian's former department) was recently ranked as one of the TOP15 communication departments in the world and TOP3 in Europe. Congratulations! 

July 2020

NEW at our LAB: Emily Kubin

Emily is a PhD student in the Political Psychology & Communication Lab at the University of Koblenz-Landau (at Landau). Emily, originally from the United States, completed her Bachelor’s degree in psychology at Drew University in New Jersey, while there she joined the Moral and Political Psychology Lab, where she found her love for research. She then worked as a lab manager at the Mind Perception and Morality lab under the direction of Kurt Gray at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Emily completed a Research Master’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. She has held research internship positions at the University of Washington, Yale University, and Vrije University. 


Emily Kubin studies political communication. Specifically, she focuses on how political opponents view and interact with one another, and the role media plays in opponents’ perceptions of one another. She places a special focus on studying strategies political opponents (and the media) can use to reduce affective polarization. More information here.


A warm welcome to our new lab member Emily Kubin!




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.


Job offer

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JUNE 2020

New paper in Mass communication & Society

The #MeToo movement has restarted an extensive and worldwide debate about sexual harassment especially directed against women. When women publicly accuse an alleged perpetrator they often do so with a strong delay and frequently come forward with allegations years after a harassment occurred. We experimentally tested how participants react to news about a victim’s delayed accusation (harassment occurred years ago), non-delayed accusation (harassment occurred days ago), or accusations with no time cue. Findings show that delayed accusations result in the attribution of negative motives toward the victim. Negative motives, in turn, increased victim blaming.

The paper (open access) can be accessed here.

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.

October 2019

Semester at Landau started

The new semester at U of Koblenz-Landau started and we welcomed our new bachelor's and master's students (BA/MA Psychology & BA/MA Communication & Social Sciences). I am really looking forward to teaching two courses this semester: A seminar in political psychology examining individual differences and media effects as well as an introductory course to communication science. Welcome everybody!

September 2019

Come work with us in Landau! Job in Landau Available!

We have a position available in Landau in the field of political communication. We are looking for a PhD candidate or postdoctoral researcher (75%, October 15th 2019 - October 14th 2022). Check it out here and apply! I am very happy to answer any questions. Please contact me under: vonsikorski at Apply until SEPTEMBER 23, 2019


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.

July 2017


The journal Publizistik published my review article on political scandals. The data show that scandals have increased around the world within the last decades. More minor norm transgressions are scandalized today compared with the past. The paper is available here:


JUNE 2017


A new paper appeared in Mass Communication & Society. The article deals with the effects of news differentiation in the context of terrorism news. The article is open access and available here:

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.