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Communication Studies Launches Message Effects Lab

Message Effects Lab RoomMessage Effects Lab Control Room

John Haas, director of the School of Communication Studies, describes the new Message Effects Lab as a “game changer” for the School’s and College’s research program.  “The lab enables us to provide our faculty and students with one of the best communication research facilities in the country,” said Haas. “It gives our faculty the ability to study communication and message effects across a wide range of situations, topics and technologies.” 

The lab facilities include three separate rooms with cameras, microphones, web and computer connections, monitors, response electronics and PowerLab software.  The software allows researchers to capture data on perceptual and physiological human responses to technical data from video and audio equipment.  In addition, the lab has equipment for collecting bio-data from subjects such as blood pressure readings and pulse rate changes.

The total package of data and responses allows researchers to answer questions about when a message makes a difference and when it does not.  Research conducted in the lab will allow researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of all kinds of messages including messages capable of influencing young teens and adults to stop taking harmful drugs, and messages designed to help people control their speech anxiety.

Haas points out, “With the tools available in the Message Effects Lab, we no longer have to rely solely on self-reported data from surveys.  The ability to merge information obtained from surveys with quantifiable, factual data obtained in the lab will allow us to build more effective communication messages.”

Preliminary plans are underway to hold an open house for faculty and university researchers to introduce the lab’s capabilities.  A public open house for interested alumni and friends is also in the early planning stages.  Those interested in learning more about the lab can contact the School’s Program Resource Specialist Sandy Cabbage at scabbage@utk.edu.