Communication as Experience

Communication is increasingly used to actively engage societal stakeholders. Communication no longer only detachedly reports about experiences of others, but has become an experience in itself. This form of communication can engage addressees in many ways, for instance by making abstracts social issues more concrete and relatable, increasing addressees’ emotional responses and involvement, and/or serve as a vicarious experience.

This shift towards communication as experience is visible in different ways, like the growing emphasis on immerse communicative strategies such as storytelling, gamification, figurative framing and engaging language and visuals; the rise of new hybrid genres combining factual and entertainment elements (e.g., news satire); and the increasing use of co-creation. Communication as experience can be used for many pro-social purposes like fostering sensemaking, increasing empathy with others, strengthening stakeholder commitment (e.g., employee or customer journeys), stimulating wellbeing, and optimizing social marketing. However, in other situations, communication as experience can be misused for negative social effects, for instance through legitimizing prejudice and stigma, or increasing attention to misinformation.

In this domain, researchers map the content and form features of media and other forms of communication, as well as the nature of communication experiences across social domains, examine relevant individual differences in media users, uncover psychological mechanisms underlying communication as experience, and study how pro-social effects of communication as experience can be enhanced and unwanted effects can be countered.

Take a look at some examples of our projects in this domain: