As the new school year begins, members of the Department of Communication are undergoing exciting new research studies. Associate Professor Amanda Denes was just awarded a Waterhouse Family Institute (WFI) grant which will allow her to design and conduct a new research study on campus. WFI is a communication research institute, housed within Villanova University, where it funds research projects that focus on interconnections between communication and social change. Not only did Professor Denes receive the grant, but she received the largest single grant that WFI has ever provided.
Professor Denes, along with her main collaborator at the University of Washington, John Crowley P.h.D., will be studying the effects of positive affirmation towards sexual minorities who have been affected by hate speech. The study will ask members of the LGBQ community to share an experience that they have had with hate speech with their friends. The friends will then be trained to give good support or no support to their friend. The researches will be measuring physical stress by observing hormones to see whether or not communication intervention from friends can dampen stress. Professor Denes has received support from the UConn Rainbow Center, and she is hoping to provide information about how to communicate effectively with victims of hate speech.
Professor Denes feels that this is an important issue to be studying because hate speech is on the rise, and there’s a lot of negative sentiment towards many groups including the LGBQ community. There are many allies to this community that want to know how to be better allies, and what they as a community can do to help. There are also potential health benefits to this study, as stress can cause people to become sick. The study seeks to find ways to improve the mental and physical health of those being affected by hate speech by teaching allies how to communicate with them in an affirming way.
Currently, Professor Denes is designing the study and awaiting approval in order to start collecting data in the spring. Additionally, she will be looking for lab students to assist with her research.. If you are interested, email Professor Denes at email@example.com.