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Leah Waks

Photo of Leah Waks

Principal Lecturer & Director of Undergraduate Studies, Communication

(301) 405-6529

2101B Skinner Building
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Education

Ph.D., University of Michigan

Research Expertise

Communication Science
Persuasion

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Waks teaches communication theory, persuasion, and group dynamics. She is an expert in leadership training, mediation, and conflict management.

Her main research interest is in the interplay of cognitions, attitudes, and emotions in conflict creation and conflict management, in organizations and in groups.

Dr. Waks has published in the Journal of Communication, the Howard Journal of Communications, and elsewhere.

Publications

Emotion and Virality of Food Safety Risk Communication Messages on Social Media

Study investigates how the emotional tone of food safety risk communication messages predicts message virality on social media.

Communication

Lead: Xiaoli Nan
Contributor(s): Yuan Wang, Leah Waks
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Lead author: Xiaojing Wang Samantha Stanley, Daniel Broniatowski
Dates:

This study investigates how the emotional tone of food safety risk communication messages predicts message virality on social media. Through a professional Internet content tracking service, we gathered news articles written about the 2018 romaine lettuce recall published online between October 30 and November 29, 2018. We retrieved the number of times each article was shared on Twitter and Pinterest, and the number of engagements (shares, likes, and comments) for each article on Facebook and Reddit. We randomly selected 10% of the articles (n = 377) and characterized the emotional tone of each article using machine learning, including emotional characteristics such as discrete emotions, emotional valence, arousal, and dominance. Conveying negative valence, low arousal, and high dominance, as well as anger and sadness emotions were associated with greater virality of articles on social media. Implications of these findings for risk communication in the age of social media are discussed.