Cynthia Morton, associate professor at the College of Journalism and Communications, studies persuasion. She specializes in developing new ways to communicate important information about health and social issues to diverse audiences, including how an advertisement’s source and message influence the way it’s received.
“Advertising is tasked with formulating messages that are persuasive and salient to the audience intended as the receiver,” she said. “My research agenda focuses on the process for discovery and measurement of persuasive message strategies directed to targeted audiences on behalf of a specific source or change agent.”
Morton is currently a co-principal investigator on a nearly $1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes for Health, to study if members of historically marginalized families influence each other’s participation in clinical research studies. The study’s goal is to implement a statewide communication plan to reach populations that are often excluded from clinical trials.
But Morton’s work has a range of applications. In 2020, she was co-author of a study analyzing audiences’ emotional responses to anti-terrorism advertising across for-profit, non-profit and government sources. Sexual health advertising is also among the topics Morton focuses on. In 2012, she spearheaded a key study that found women over 50 were often uncomfortable asking physicians for information on sexual health, potentially contributing to unsafe sex and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Morton, who earned her master’s in marketing, media organization and management from the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. in advertising, social marketing and health communications from the University of Texas, arrived at UF in 1999. Her work in advertising continues to span education and consulting in addition to research. She has served on nearly 100 graduate committees and was awarded the College of Journalism and Communication’s Graduate Dissertation Mentor Award in 2016.
Learn more about Morton’s work.