I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies
and the Game Design
program of the College of Arts, Media and Design
and the Department of Health Sciences
of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences
at Northeastern University
I direct the Health Technology Lab
and advise students in the Department of Communication Studies,
the Game Design
program, and the Department of Health Sciences
My research is focused on understanding the psychological, physiological, and behavioral mechanisms and effects of media technologies for health promotion with the goal to design and evaluate innovative digital interventions that are theory-guided and evidence-based. Most of my work is interdisciplinary. I actively collaborate with scholars in communications, psychology, computer science, design, education, medicine, and public health.
My research program investigates three sub-topics:
NARRATIVES AS BEHAVIORAL MOTIVATORS
I am interested in the persuasive effects of media narratives, or stories that may affect health behavior. One of the oldest and still most pervasive forms of communication, narratives is an especially powerful tool to communicate about health and change behavior. Narratives have the unique immersive quality that enables suspension of disbelief, vivid personal experiences, and helps create affection for the story’s characters. As a narrative research scientist, I am among the first to study the psychological and behavioral impacts of narratives on physical activity behaviors and cognitive function among children and young adults using active video games and virtual reality. I plan to extend this research to encompass a broader range of the developmental spectrum and additional media technologies. [Publication
Keywords - Narrative / RCT / Media Effects / Physical Activity / Exercise Physiology / ...]
MEDIATED CHARACTERS IN INTERACTIVE MEDIA
My fascination in this area originated in my childhood interest in anime, or Japanese animation, which has many international visual and cultural elements. Having published highly recognized theoretical work on internationalization in anime, I've continued to explore this cultural hybridity phenomenon from a cognitive psychology perspective. I was the first to discover and empirically demonstrate the Own Race Projection (ORP) — the perception that ambiguous characters are perceived as belonging to the viewer's own racial and ethnic group. This line of research is closely aligned with narratives because character perception is a key determinant of the immersive quality of a story and user experience. Mediated characters are essential to the creation of the most efficacious games and other interactive media. [Publication
Keywords - Avatar/Character / Perception / Animation / Anime / Persuasion / ...]
DIGITAL MEDIA USE AND NEURO BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS
Digital media can offer targeted recipients much more than just a new communication channel and are especially important when trying to reach different populations. I have been working in the area of games for health by evaluating and designing video games, AR/VR/XR, smart-phone applications, and other interactive programs for various types of prevention and intervention research. Besides working on individual intervention projects, I have been working on multiple systematic and meta-analytic projects on games, simulations, apps, and AR/VR/XR for health. I believe that in order to create more effective digital interventions, academia-based health technology researchers should engage in productive conversations and collaborations with game and technology studios as well as relevant industry groups. [Publication
Keywords - Games for Health / Active Games / Virtual Reality / Systematic Review / Meta-Analysis / ...]
+ As a communication and behavior scientist, I'm looking for collaborators who'd like to explore technology-based health promotion via video games, electronic devices, and interactive applications among various populations. Drop me a line if you're interested!
+ We have multiple work-study positions in Spring 2024. Please check out the R121685 Research Assistant position on Workday!