Communication is the process of using sounds, signs or behavior to express and exchange information. Research in the discipline of communication examines how people communicate and create meaning using a wide range of technologies, media and contexts. Understanding communication requires study in a wide range of contexts and is firmly based in the liberal arts tradition.

Areas of particular interest at UMass Boston include

Communication and Technology

This area of research focuses on cognitive and behavioral foundations of computer-mediated communication (CMC). The overall goal of this research is to explore the influence of interpersonal, psychological and social factors on cognitive (e.g., language use, message perceptions) and behavioral processes (e.g., performance) in CMC. We examine these processes in several online contexts ranging from virtual teams and social media interactions to online task platforms.

For more information contact Dr. Yilmaz

Health Communication

The discipline of health communication is characterized by its examination of the processes that underlie how people attend to, interpret, and respond to health messages. The purpose of health communication research is to assess the quality and characteristics of health messages in order to better understand how public discourse about health shapes public perception, to explicate the psychological processes that influence how people attend to, make sense of, and respond to health messages, and to investigate how health messages influence health beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

For more information contact Dr. Quintero Johnson

Intercultural Communication

This area of research examines communication between individuals or groups from diverse cultural backgrounds. The goal of this research is to apply theoretical and empirical knowledge to answer the challenges of globalization. In cross-cultural communication research, we examine issues of persuasion and message effectiveness across different cultural contexts (e.g., how health or advertising messages should be created differently to accommodate audience from different cultures). We are also interested in how individuals adapt to new cultural environments (e.g., topics such as intercultural communication competence, adaptation strategies, and person-culture fit). We also study how people’s values and assumptions affect their communicative behaviors such as conflict management and networking patterns. 

For more information contact Dr. Zhu

Political Communication & Activism

The overarching goal of this research is to study the ways in which media is used for social activism. By looking at the technologies we use for non-mainstream political communication the project aims to gain insights into the role of digital communication in democracy. This work has studied a range of issues such as: online civil disobedience, social media vigilantism, and online outrage. The goal is to explore the role of technological affordances in activist communication, and the ways in which political activists use digital media.

For more information contact Dr. Klang

Public Relations and Advertising

The goal of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of strategic communication campaigns designed to create a favorable response from a given target audience in public relations and advertising. It includes focused study such as brand management, sponsorship/endorsement, social media marketing, corporate social marketing, nonprofit marketing, and health communication campaigns with an emphasis on research, analytics and understanding audiences. The purpose of PR and advertising research is to examine the effects of strategic communication campaigns in terms of their attitudinal and behavioral responses to the communication (i.e., source, message, media) strategies.

Related areas of interest

Interpersonal Communication

The discipline of Interpersonal Communication examines interaction between dyads (pairs of people) and small groups of people. Interpersonal communication is inherently relational, and is studied in an array of contexts, including friends, family, lovers, business associates, and important others. This research examines the wide range of elements which contribute to the exchange of information between two or more people. Interpersonal communication studies span a wide range of subgenres including nonverbal signals, emotion experience and expression, social networks, escalation and de-escalation of romantic relationships, family relationships, the dark side of communication in relationships, interpersonal influence, and impact of age and individual differences on communication.

Corporate Communication

Corporate communication studies the range of activities connected to creating, transmitting and managing organizational information. The goal is to understand how corporations, using a variety of media, strive to maintain a consistent message to all corporate stakeholders. The mission of corporate communication studies is to understand how organizations strive to maintain a consistent message to a wide range of audiences such as investors, employees and the general public.