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Sun Young Lee

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Assistant Professor, Communication

2108 Skinner Building
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Education

Ph.D., University of North Carolina

Research Expertise

Crisis & Risk Communication
Public Relations
Strategic Communication

Curriculum Vitae

Sun Young Lee earned her doctorate in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2012. Her research interests include visual strategies in corporate social responsibility (CSR) messages, strategies to engage the public with CSR activities and the effects of CSR practices in a crisis context. Lee’s research has appeared in the Journal of Business Ethics, Communication Research, Public Relations Review and elsewhere. Her current projects focus on the role of emotions and of public empowerment in the co-creation of social value through CSR activities. Prior to arriving at Maryland, she was on the faculty at Texas Tech University. 

Graduate Advising Philosophy

Publications

The co-creation of social value: what matters for public participation in corporate social responsibility campaigns

This study explores the impact of organization–public relationships (OPRs) and issue-related situational factors on publics’ intention to participate in CSR campaigns, based on relationship management theory and the situational theory of problem-solving.

Communication

Lead: Sun Young Lee
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Young Kim & Yeuseung Kim
Dates:

This study explores the impact of organization–public relationships (OPRs) and issue-related situational factors on publics’ intention to participate in CSR campaigns, based on relationship management theory and the situational theory of problem-solving (STOPS). We surveyed 698 respondents living in the United States about two CSR campaigns, one focused on girls’ empowerment and one on deforestation. The results showed that situational motivation and OPRs were strongly and directly related to publics’ participation intention for both CSR campaigns. Only two situational perceptions – constraint recognition and involvement recognition – were indirectly related to publics’ participation. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings.

Visual CSR messages and the effects of emotional valence and arousal on perceived CSR motives, attitude, and behavioral intention.

This study examined how the emotional valence and arousal generated from contextual images in CSR messages affected the perceived CSR motives of companies, attitude toward the companies, purchase intention, and CSR participation intention.

Communication

Lead: Sun Young Lee
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Chung, Sungwon
Dates:
CRCover

Companies have frequently used visuals (e.g., still images and videos) as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication strategies, and those visuals often contain emotional content. As yet, however, scholars and practitioners have little understanding of how emotional design influences the effectiveness of CSR communication. This study examined how the emotional valence and arousal generated from contextual images in CSR messages affected the perceived CSR motives of companies, attitude toward the companies, purchase intention, and CSR participation intention. The results of a 2 (valence: positive vs. negative) × 2 (arousal: calm vs. arousing) experiment showed that arousing negative images elicited the highest level of attributing public-serving CSR motives to companies, the most favorable attitude toward the companies, and the strongest purchase intention, and CSR participation intention. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications.

What Makes CSR Communication Lead to CSR Participation? Testing the Mediating Effects of CSR Associations, CSR Credibility, and Organization–Public Relationships

This study examines consumers’ uses of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication channels, and the relationship of such uses to consumers’ CSR awareness.

Communication

Lead: Sun Young Lee
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Zhang, Weiwu; Abitbol, Alan
Dates:

This study examines consumers’ uses of corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication channels, the relationship of such uses to consumers’ CSR awareness, and the mechanisms through which consumers’ CSR awareness can lead to their intention to participate in CSR activities. Specifically, we explored the mediation effects of consumers’ CSR associations with a company, consumers’ assessment of the company’s CSR credibility, and consumers’ perceptions of their relationship with the company, applying the conceptual frameworks of the uses and gratification theory, source credibility theory, and organization–public relationship (OPR) scholarship. We conducted an online survey of a company’s customers (N = 394), and the results showed that their level of awareness of the company’s CSR activities was positively related to the degree of use of all communication channels through which they received CSR messages, except CSR reports. The degree of the customers’ awareness of the company’s CSR programs, however, did not always correspond to the customers’ intention to participate in the programs: a crucial condition mediating between the customers’ knowledge of CSR programs and their intention to participate in the programs was their associating the company with CSR. The CSR associations influenced CSR credibility and perceived OPR quality, which, in turn, led to CSR participation intention. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

JBE Cover

Cognitive processing of corporate social responsibility campaign messages: the effects of emotional visuals on memory

This study explored the effects of visual strategies on consumers’ memory of corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign messages.

Communication

Lead: Sun Young Lee
Non-ARHU Contributor(s): Chung, Sungwon
Dates:
MediaPsych

This study explored the effects of visual strategies on consumers’ memory of corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign messages. Using the limited capacity model of motivated mediated message processing (LC4MP), we examined how emotional CSR messages are cognitively processed—specifically, how emotional visuals in CSR messages affect two subprocesses of information processing: encoding and storage. We conducted a 2 (valence: positive vs. negative) × 2 (arousal: moderately arousing vs. highly arousing) within-subjects experiment across four different CSR issues. The results showed that recognition accuracy and sensitivity (d′) of company logos were best for moderately arousing negative images, whereas for recognition accuracy and sensitivity (d′) of company names, there were no significant differences across the emotional conditions. For cued recall of companies associated with CSR issues, the pattern was different—highly arousing negative images with aversive cues were the most effective. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.