Below you find a list of current and past externally funded projects. For more information, please check our recent publications, or send an eMail to the listed contact persons.

  • ENCODE – Unveiling Emotional Dimensions of Politics to Foster European Democracy
    Duration: 2024-2027
    Project funded by the Horizon Europe program of the European Union
    Contact: Jörg MatthesRuta Kaskeleviciute

    About: Despite emotions being a driver of political choices, building democratically meaningful emotional narratives in politics remains an uncharted territory. Hence the main venture of ENCODE is to decode the meanings of emotions and encode them to policy-making strategies aiming for a positive emotional turn, breaking the cycle of depolarization. To meet this ambitious goal, ENCODE builds its conceptual frameworks arising from a novel concept of affective pluralization, as opposed to affective polarisation. This term serves to frame empirical research carried out in six geographically diverse European countries, representing both EU member states and candidates. This study will span desk research, sentiment analysis, biometric research, in-depth interviews, experiments and panel survey. Such triangulation of research techniques ensures the accuracy and validity of the findings. These are further encoded into main outputs: catalogue of best practice to tackle disinformation in social media, emotional gap maps, validated survey questions and democratic resilience heatmaps.
    These outputs are not expected only to enhance current scientific framework, but also are planned to underpin the future emotional narratives co-designed by diverse groups of citizens in innovations labs and further validated by Delphi expert panels and vignette experiments. This bottom-up approach anchored in citizen science ensures that policy-making strategy are in first place created by citizens and only in the next step discussed by expert teams who will elaborate policy-making strategies, the roadmap for their implementation, alongside future foresight scenarios which will be disseminated widely across EU and EU wide community of 1000+ members. This strategy creates emotional bonds between ordinary citizens, increases trust in governance and supports better informed political decision-making and communication.
  • Digital Hate: Perpetrators, Audiences, and (Dis)Empowered Targets
    Duration: 2023-2027
    Project funded by the European Research Council (ERC)
    Contact: Jörg MatthesKevin Koban

    About: Across many social media platforms, hateful content against people from both socially disadvantaged (e.g., women, Muslims) and privileged groups (e.g., politicians, journalists, academics) are commonplace and represent a pivotal challenge to societal cohesion. From a scientific standpoint, this digital hate constitutes a complex and dynamic structure, in which various involved actors (broadly and fluidly classified in perpetrators, bystanders, and targets) exhibit unique, yet partially interacting motivations, perceptions, and vulnerabilities. An approach to investigate digital hate thus needs to be multidisciplinary, methodologically versatile, and inclusive of different cultural settings in order to be appropriate. The ERC project Digital Hate: Perpetrators, Audiences, and (Dis)Empowered Targets (DIGIHATE) meets these requirements, examining how different kinds of digital hate emerge, get distributed, and affect others and determining what everyone can do about it.
  • Generative AI, Health Literacy and Well-Being of Citizens
    Duration: 2023-2024
    Project funded by Circle U. – European University Alliance
    Project Partners: University of Belgrade (Serbia), the Université Paris Cité (France), Aarhus University (Denmark)
    Contact: Jörg MatthesAlice Binder

    Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, refers to a technology, which delivers fast and comprehensive information about all aspects of human life, including health. People may use generative AI to inform themselves about health topics, to get advice or interact with AI about their concerns, or to diagnose/treat diseases. Generative AI is considered to have large disruptive potential, necessitating new understandings of potential risks and benefits. Drawing on humanities, business, social sciences, and public health research, our aim is to establish a comprehensive understanding of the health-related risks and benefits of generative AI. We particularly focus on implications for inequality, with respect to gender, age, and minority status, looking at variations by country.
  • People's Sense of Security Within Modern Media Landscapes
    Duration: 2022-2024
    Project funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)
    Contact: Jörg MatthesKevin Koban

    About: In recent years, the confrontation with immigration and violent crime as well as, most recently, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russo-Ukrainian War have shaped Austrian’s sense of security and, in the process, made various concerns, fears, and related social tendencies more salient. Traditional media have always played a central role in people’s sense of security. Having said that, social media and the proliferation of smartphones have fundamentally changed the dissemination, reception, and discussion of security-related information, thus challenging established practices of efficient security communication that is supposed to be effective in both the short and long term. Research has not sufficiently accounted for these changing media landscapes, such that the influence of smartphones and social media has thus far been examined only to a limited extend. The project will obtain detailed data on the reception of safety-related topics in light of individualized media habits, which will be assessed holistically for their temporal relationship with people’s sense of security in Austria. Additionally, we will examine the causal influence of social media and their opinion leaders in order to determine how public security communication within the available social media channels can (and should) look.
  • Social Media Use and Adolecents' Well-Being
    Duration: 2020-2024
    Project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
    Contact: Jörg MatthesKevin Koban

    About: Social media sites such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram have become an integral part of adolescents' lives due to the high availability of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. In this context, adolescents increasingly use social media in parallel with other activities, e.g., while talking to friends or family, or even during school classes. These activities lead to the phenomenon of being permanently online and constantly connected to others. The ongoing and diverse social media use entails a number of positive aspects such as reinforcing friendships or self-disclosure, but also poses many risks, such as communication stress or becoming a target of cyberbullying. Given the multiple uses of social media, a one-sided focus on positive or negative consequences for adolescents' well-being falls short, as they may occur simultaneously.

    Therefore, the central hypothesis of this project states that social media use has both positive and negative influences on adolescents' psychological, social, and physical well-being. To test this assumption we developed an innovative theoretical model. For the first time, we integrate positive and negative consequences of social media use in three key areas of adolescents' lives—information management, relationship management, and identity management—and simultaneously examine their influence on adolescents' well-being. We will investigate six underlying processes as well as different influence factors such as individual predispositions, parental, and peer influences. This approach is a unique attempt to shed new light on how and under which circumstances social media use influences well-being in adolescence.

    To that end, we propose an innovative multi-method research design, which combines qualitative interviews with quantitative longitudinal surveys and momentary assessments. The proposed research design therefore allows for an in-depth understanding of social media use and its consequences for adolescents' well-being. In addition, the implementation of longitudinal research designs allows explaining the directionality of the proposed relationships, which can help explain contradicting findings in previous research. Overall, this project guides future research and has important implications for society at large.
  • DATADRIVEN – Consequences of Data-Driven Campaigns for Democracy
    Duration: 2020-2024
    Project funded through the NORFACE network and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
    Contact: Jörg MatthesSelina Noetzel

    About: This is the age of Big Data. From the moment we open our eyes in the morning, until we fall asleep at night, our actions are recorded on mobile phone apps, websites, customer loyalty cards, and through our social media interactions. This data is used to develop algorithms that are subsequently used by private and political organisations to predict our attitudes, feelings, and behavior. We study the impact of this change in both political and mediated communication. For example, in this project we study the intended and unintended consequences of data-driven election campaigns across Europe.
  • YouCount – Empowering Youth and Cocreating Social Innovations and Policymaking Through Youth-Focused Citizen Social Science
    Duration: 2021-2024
    Project funded by the European Union • Horizon 2020 Program for Research and Innovation
    Contact: Jörg MatthesMelanie Saumer

    About: In Europe, and globally, substantial numbers of young people are at risk of social exclusion, and there is therefore a pressing need to develop more knowledge and innovation to create more inclusive and youth-friendly societies. Citizen social science might contribute to these needs, but the actual outcomes of citizen social science and its innovative potential is uncertain. YOUCOUNT will therefore, through cocreative youth citizen social science (Y-CSS) including youths in the age of 15-29 years as citizen scientists, produce new knowledge of positive drivers for social inclusion of youth at risk of exclusion, and cocreate innovations and policymaking. Moreover, to provide evidence of the actual outcomes of Y-CSS through hands on citizen science activities.
  • Social Media and Political Engagement: Mechanisms and Contingencies
    Duration: 2018-2022
    Project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
    Contact: Jörg Matthes • Andreas Nanz

    About: The increasing use of social media has spurred hopes that social media may have the power to increase political participation, even among those who used to tune out of the political world. Research findings in the field indeed suggest a positive relationship between social media use and various forms of political participation, such as protesting and political expression. However, there is a lack of theorizing about the precise psychological processes behind this relationship. Hence, we still don't know why and under which circumstances social media may increase participation. One problem is that research in the field is dominated by cross-sectional surveys, which measure social media use and participation for only one point in time. Long-term analyses and experimental studies, which are better suited to explain psychological mechanisms and causal effects, are yet a scarce phenomenon. Drawing on the Social Media Political Participation Model, this project aims at filling this pressing research gap.
  • Measuring the Loss of Image due to Time Delays
    DE: "Projekt zur Messung des Imageverlustes durch Zeitverzögerungen"
    Duration: 2021
    Project funded by the Wiener Linien (Viennese Public Transport Operator)
    Contact: Jörg MatthesAlice Binder
  • Perfect Picture, Imperfect Life? The Relationship Between Personal Instagram Use and Subjective Life-Satisfaction – A Linkage Analysis
    Duration: 2019
    Project funded through the Fritz Karmasin-Award of the Austrian Society of Communication (ÖGK)
    Contact: Kathrin Karsay • Brigitte Naderer
  • Effects of Austrian Monopolists' Betting and Gambling Ads – Update 2018
    Duration: 2019
    Project funded by the Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG)
    Contact: Jörg Matthes
  • Effects of Food Placements in Narrative Children's Media on Children's Healthy Eating Behavior. Long Term Effects, Activation and Attention Allocation, as well as Effective Presentations
    Duration: 2018-2020
    Project funded by the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Central Bank of the Republic of Austria)
    Contact: Jörg Matthes
  • Effects of Austrian Monopolists' Betting and Gambling Ads
    Duration: 2017
    Project funded by the Austrian Association for Betting and Gambling (OVWG)
    Contact: Jörg Matthes
  • Populist Political Communication in Europe: Comprehending the Challenge of Mediated Political Populism for Democratic Politics
    Duration: 2014-2018
    Project funded by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology)
    COST Action: IS 1308
    Austrian participation project: "Populist Political Communication in Austria. Strategies, Media Attention, and Audience Effects"
    Contact for Austrian part project: Jörg Matthes
  • The Antecedents of Public Opinion Expression. A Cross-National Study of Debate Participation, Project 15 within Module 4 of the NCCR Democracy
    Duration: 2009-2014
    Project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation
    Methods: Cross-national public opinion surveys
    Contact: Jörg Matthes
  • Reception of News on Migration – the Audience Studies within the large-scale project "Mediation of Migration: Media Impacts on Norwegian Immigration Policy, Public Administration and Public Opinion"
    Duration: 2011-2015
    Funded by the Research Council of Norway (in collaboration with colleagues from the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, Norway).
    Methods: Focus groups, surveys, content analysis
    Contact: Jörg Matthes