Source: TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Aug 9, 2020
Project End Date
Jul 28, 2025
Grant Year
Project Director
Baker, MA.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication
Non Technical Summary
The purpose of this project is to conduct communication research in the context of food health innovations for the ultimate goal of helping consumers make more informed food health decisions. To achieve this end, I will first identify emerging food health innovations as identified by experts in agricultural science, life science, food science, and human nutrition. I will then survey the general population of Texas to gather information on how they perceive the innovations. I will ask the survey participants to identify the likelihood of their adoption of the food health innovations, perceived societal benefits of the food health innovations, their health status, and selected demographic attributes. I will then develop a quantitative model for predicting the likelihood of adoption of these emerging food health innovations at the individual, household, and societal levels based upon the demographics of the respondents.This information will allow me to begin the experimentation process. I will develop and test specific messages on several outcome measures. One tool that I will use is called a continuous response measure or dial testing measure. Differing groups of subjects will be invited into a controlled environment and asked to respond in real-time to a particular video message. I will then analyze the data, looking at differences within groups during a message, and differences between groups of consumers. I hypothesize that different demographics will view the video messages differently. I will be able to pinpoint the narrative (what is said) and videography (what is displayed) at points of inflection.The second set of experiments will provide a more in-depth look into the reactions of the video messages. For this phase of the study, I will monitor heart rate, skin conductance, and facial expressions. For example, in the waning quarter of a football game your heart rate may decelerate (indicating concentration), you may produce sweat (emotion response), and you may grimace your brow when your team does not make a first down in a third-down and short situation (negative emotional valence). I hypothesize that different groups of subjects will have different physiological reactions while viewing video messages. For the third set of experiments, I will use eye-tracking devices to measure visual stimuli associated with attentional integration. Pupil dilation is a proxy measure for information processing, stress, emotion, arousal, and conflict. Length of fixation on a particular area of a computer screen may indicate a user is taking a longer time interpreting or relating to a video treatment. Or, if a subject fixates on a particular design element quickly, it could mean that part of the video treatment is more noticeable. The use of gaze plots will help me to understand what first attracts a subject's interest, cognitive fixation, what, through accumulation, and what attracts the individual most often. Once again, I hypothesize that different groups and nuanced treatments will result in differing eye-related reactions.The goals of the previous experiments are to identify the neural systems that consumers engage when processing food health messages. For this last set of experiments, I will use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to test knowledge retention and decision making on emerging food health innovations. These series of experiments will allow me to measure which brain regions are more active during video treatments related to knowledge acquisition. This information will assist in establishing how consumers are reasoning about food health innovations, which provides insight into how to change behavior and thinking. As these systems function somewhat autonomously, it is crucial to understand which system consumers are using to target messages correctly. Once these underlying systems are established, models of how consumers are processing information about emerging food health issues can be used to probe the neuroimaging data further.The final step in this project is to develop a framework to inform heuristics to improve communications practice. I will share this information with researchers to assist them when communicating with general audiences. I will also develop a model for delivering these emerging food health messages and share it with Extension professionals and science communicators.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
Describe emerging food health innovations within five-years of market access and potential impact on health-care as forecasted by USDA and land-grant leaders;Identify the relationships between likely adoption of the food-health innovations into personal diet and household diet, perceived benefit of the food-health innovation to global societal needs, individual and household health inventory, and selected demographics from adult Texans;Elucidate the effects of video messages on moment-to-moment analyses segmented by demographic;Explain the effects of video messages on subconscious cognitive and emotional response segmented by demographic;Explicate the effects of web-based messages on attention and information processing; andModel the spatial-temporal dependence of participant cognitive and affective response to innovations while viewing video andweb-based messages.
Project Methods
The initial phase of this project will involve experts from land-grant universities and USDA forecasting emerging food health innovations. A survey will examine attitudinal differences of the general population regarding these innovations. This research will test messages utilizing state-of-the-art communication technologies to study cause/effect relationships of real-time consumption of short videos, scan-tracking of websites and infographics, cognitive engagement, and emotional responses to test video messages. Further, fMRI will pinpoint cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation to model healthy consumer food-related decision making. Collectively, this research will result in a heuristic in the design and delivery of consumer messages to use in electronic media treatments when informing consumer groups about emerging food health innovations. A modified Delphi will identify the most promising food health innovations predicted to emerge in the consumer market within a five-year window (RO#1). The modified Delphi method is an established forecasting tool. Land-grant and USDA leaders will nominate national experts to serve on this panel. First, the panel will identify promising food health innovations (through private or public partnerships within their respective organizations). In the subsequent rounds of the survey, the panel will evaluate the innovations and reach consensus. This pool of forecasted innovations will serve as the context for the subsequent R.O.'s. RO#2 involves a survey of the general adult population of Texas to identify likely adoption of the emerging food health innovations forecasted in RO#1 into their diet and general household diet, perceived benefit of the food health innovation to global societal needs, individual and household health inventories, and demographic attributes of the participants. Multivariate analyses will identify if personal and household attitudes toward the innovations and perceived benefit of the innovations to global societal needs differ based upon individual and household health inventories, and selected demographics. Subsequently, subject response to media message (e.g., electronic infographics, video clips, and web pages) treatments will be tested in controlled laboratory experiments (R.O.'s #3-6). Continuous Response Measurement (CRM) will assess messages for RO#3. The CRM system measures real-time perceptions of the content of a message. This study will be conducted in a departmental media laboratory using our Dialsmith perception analyzer. RO#4-5 involves the use of the AgriLife Human Behavior Laboratory (HBL). For RO#4, the project director will determine the effects of electrodermal response, cardiac deceleration, and facial electromyography on differing video message treatments. The researcher will then determine if differences in areas of (screen) interest, the area of interest eliciting the first eye fixation, mean duration of eye fixations, the sum of these eye fixation durations, total number of eye-fixations on a stimulus, and pupil dilation exist based on infographic treatments (RO#5). Data collection of blood-oxygen-level-dependence imaging for RO#6 will take place in an fMRI laboratory (location yet to be determined) with a neurocognitive psychologist. The investigator will model regions of brain activation when consuming test messages. Findings from R.O.'s # 1-6 will then be translated into a framework to inform heuristics to improve communications practice (RO#7).

Progress 08/09/20 to 09/30/20

Target Audience: Nothing Reported Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Nothing Reported How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Nothing Reported What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

What was accomplished under these goals? Project just began, nothing to report at this time.