Faculty Research Spotlight: Joseph Bayer

Joe Bayer

In his first academic year as an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, Joseph Bayer, PhD, was recognized for his impactful research program and taught undergraduate students to utilize real-world technology in the first-ever social media analytics course.

Bayer, who describes himself as “a researcher, first and foremost,” researches how people perceive and experience the social network ecosystem, as well as how it compares to their offline personal networks.

“I once heard that communication research tries to fill the gap between sociology and psychology by examining the connections between cognitive processes and social interactions,” Bayer said. “That is exactly what my research does.”

In January, Bayer received the Sarah Evans Mattox Faculty Research Award, in recognition of his highly productive, innovative research on the impact of media on public opinion and society. He was chosen by a committee of internal reviewers

Throughout 2016, Bayer’s research was published in multiple journals and articles throughout the country. Bayer’s extensive research on Snapchat has grown popular as the app continues to grow and evolve. In an LA Times article, Bayer said that Snapchat is “an interesting mix of old school and new school.” Although the app is more similar to face-to-face interaction, it has challenged society’s belief of capturing moments with photos, because nothing is permanent.

“Communication is constantly evolving,” Bayer said. “Is there really a golden standard for how we communicate? Each generation will continue to find new ways to express themselves.”

In addition to researching, Bayer developed and taught the school’s first social media analytics undergraduate course this spring. The course utilizes the social media analytics tool Crimson Hexagon, which is used by corporations to collect data and provide insight. The students utilized this tool to study everything from emotion and sentiment analytics to location data.

Bayer said this course fits well into the larger mission of Ohio State – immersing students into experiences that will prepare them to work in the real world.

“My favorite part of teaching is exposing students to new tools that they can leverage, and introducing them to career paths they may not have known existed,” Bayer said.

It was an undergraduate media psychology course at the University of Pittsburgh that sparked Bayer’s interest in media research. The students in the course had the opportunity to conduct a study of their own, and Bayer “ran with it.” He collected nearly 500 responses on a survey about texting while driving, and his overall finding was that what people say they do and what they actually do are extremely different.

After receiving his undergraduate degree, Bayer pursued a PhD in communication at the University of Michigan. He came to Ohio State because he said he wanted to be a part of the School of Communication’s “powerhouse department.” He appreciates the opportunity to learn and collaborate with peers like Jesse Fox, Kelly Garrett and David Deandrea, whose research also focuses on the cognitive effects of media.

Article written by student Allison Predmore