Associate Professor of Public Relations
College of Journalism and Communications
Spiro Kiousis’ principal research endeavors have been in the areas of political communication, political public relations, and new media. Collectively, this interdisciplinary research examines the interplay among political public relations efforts, news media content, and public opinion in traditional and interactive mass mediated contexts. Kiousis’ scholarship has earned him national/international distinction in the areas of political communication, political public relations, and new media.
Kiousis’ research on political communication focuses on the antecedents, processes, and consequences of agenda-setting using survey, content analysis, and experimental methodologies. Extending the traditional theoretical model, this research proposes that increased media attention to political figures and issues is not only related to higher levels of perceived salience, but also to increased attitude strength in public opinion. The two dimensions of attitude strength highlighted in this scholarship have been attitude dispersion (the development of non-neutral opinions) and attitude polarization (the development of extreme opinions). The model has been supported by analyses of presidential candidates and general political figures.
In the area of political public relations, Kiousis has developed a complementary line of agenda-building research that probes how political public relations efforts impact news media content and public opinion. Specifically, these studies have examined how public relations messages and counsel shape news coverage and public opinion regarding political candidates, issues, foreign nations, and companies. Results from these investigations suggest that public relations activities not only play a key role in terms of influencing general media attention and public awareness concerning these topics, but perhaps more importantly also impact how they are portrayed in news content and subsequently perceived in public opinion.
Kiousis’ scholarship related to new media centers on the concept of interactivity and how variations in Web-based mass communication content influence audience perceptions. A model of interactivity generated by Kiousis serves as a conceptual framework for much of his scholarship in this area. This research stream investigates how interactive features in online news and public relations messages shape audience responses.