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Dannagal Young - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Dannagal Young

Professor, Communication | University of Delaware


Prof. Young's research interests include political media effects, media psychology, public opinion and the psychology of misinformation.








Dannagal G. Young (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, 2007) is a Professor of Communication and Political Science at the University of Delaware where she studies the content, audience, and effects of nontraditional political information. She has published over sixty academic articles and book chapters on the content, psychology, and effects of political information, satire, and misinformation [Go to CV]. Her book "Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laugher in the U.S." won the 2022 Roderick Hart Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association's Political Communication division. The book examines satire and outrage as the logical extensions of the respective psychological profiles of liberals and conservatives (Oxford University Press, 2020). Her most recent book, "Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive our Appetite for Misinformation" with JHU Press is available for preorder and will be published in October 2023.

Dr. Young's 2020 TED Talk explaining how our psychology shapes our politics, and how media exploit these relationships, has been viewed over 1.9 Million times. She publishes extensively in the popular press with essays and Op-eds in outlets including Vox.com, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She has appeared on CNN, PBS Newshour, ABC News, NPR, and various national and international podcasts. As of 2020, her research has been cited in over 70 popular press articles, news stories, and interviews at such outlets as The Washington Post, USA Today, Politico, Christian Science Monitor, Variety, the New York Times, the Atlantic, PBS, Slate, and Vox. Her popular University of Delaware course "Propaganda and Persuasion" was released by The Great Courses in 2023. In recognition of her public facing work, in 2021, Dr. Young became the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Robert M. Entman Award in Democracy and Political Communication from the School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) at The George Washington University.

Young is a Research Fellow with the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication and was awarded the University of Delaware's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014. She holds affiliations with the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center and the University of Arizona's National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD).

Industry Expertise (3)

Political Organization

Media - Broadcast

Media - Online

Areas of Expertise (7)

Psychology of Political Beliefs

Public Opinion

Political Media Effects

Media Psychology

Intersection of Entertainment and Information

Psychology of Misinformation

Political Satire

Media Appearances (8)

Science is revealing why American politics are so intensely polarized

The Washington Post  online


Article quotes Dannagal Young, professor of communication and political science, who said Donald Trump is calling on his supporters to be angry. "Anger is a mobilization emotion because it makes people do things. When you’re angry, you’re angry at someone.”

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Sarah McBride believes voters are ready for the first ever transgender member of Congress

The 19th  online


Dannagal Young, professor of communication, sees Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride as a clear example of how research on public opinion toward transgender candidates differs from reality. “I think the reason that it is so notable with Senator McBride is that when you look at her biography … her public service predates her having come out publicly as transgender."

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Jacksonville shooting: 5 experts on the culture fueling racist attacks against Black people

Yahoo Mews  online


Young gave her expertise on the culture fueling racist attacks against Black people.

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Changing the Way Media Reports on Gun Violence

NPR  online


Dannagal Young is a professor of communications at the University of Delaware who studies how news stories impact public perception. Young says that research on the coverage of gun violence has found that news media tend to favor covering individual events and people. And often that kind of coverage is missing the broader thematic or contextual information, information that places a shooting within the larger picture of gun violence in America.

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How media should cover gun violence

NPR  online


NPR's Sacha Pfeiffer talks with Dr. Dannagal Young, professor of communications and political science at the University of Delaware, about how media coverage of gun violence affects news consumers.

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A ‘beautiful’ female biker was actually a 50-year-old man using FaceApp. After he confessed, his followers liked him even more.

The Washington Post  online


Dannagal Young, a University of Delaware associate professor studying online communication, understands that concern: Deceptive political memes, conspiracy theories, anti-vaccine hoaxes and other scams have torn the fabric of our democracy, culture and public health.

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Conspiracy theory thinking is rooted in distrust

CNN  online


Dannagal Young dissects Marjorie Taylor Greene's claim that "I was allowed to believe things that weren't true." Young says distrust of media, government and other tenets of society make conspiracy theories "really tempting." She points out that a dominant theme of Fox is "distrust in the media."

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As Trump supporters cling to conspiracies, here’s how to help them face the truth

NBC News  tv


Trump’s followers have found comfort in conspiracy theories, but it’s more urgent than ever to bring them back to reality. Professor of Communication and Political Science University of Delaware Dr. Dannagal Young and NBC News Reporter Ben Collins join MSNBC’s host of “American Voices” to share tips on bridging the divide.

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Articles (5)

“I feel it in my gut:” Epistemic Motivations, Political Beliefs, and Misperceptions of COVID-19 and the 2020 US Presidential Election

Journal of Social and Political Psychology

2022 This project examines the intersection of political constructs and epistemic motivations as they relate to belief in misinformation. How we value the origins of knowledge–through feelings and intuition or evidence and data–has important implications for our susceptibility to misinformation. This project explores how these epistemic motivations correlate with political ideology, party identification, and favorability towards President Trump, and how epistemic and political constructs predict belief in misinformation about COVID and the 2020 election. Results from a US national survey from Nov-Dec 2020 illustrate that Republicans, conservatives, and those favorable towards President Trump held greater misperceptions about COVID and the 2020 election. Additionally, epistemic motivations were associated with political preferences; Republicans and conservatives were more likely to reject evidence, and Trump supporters more likely to value feelings and intuition. Mediation analyses support the proposition that Trump favorability, Republicanism, and conservatism may help account for the relationships between epistemic motivations and misperceptions. Results are discussed in terms of the messaging strategies of right-wing populist movements, and the implications for democracy and public health.

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Psychosocial determinants of COVID-19 vaccination intention Among white, black, and Hispanic adults in the US

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

2022 Background COVID-19 vaccine uptake is an urgent public health priority. Purpose To identify psychosocial determinants (attitudes, normative pressure, and perceived behavioral control) of COVID-19 vaccination intentions for U.S. White, Black, and Hispanic adults, and how COVID-19 misperceptions, beliefs about the value of science, and perceived media bias relate to these determinants. Methods Longitudinal online survey using two national samples (18–49 years old/50 years and older), each stratified by racial/ethnic group (n = 3,190). Data were collected in October/November 2020 and were weighted by race group to be representative.

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Psychosocial determinants of COVID-19 vaccination intention Among white, black, and Hispanic adults in the US

Journal of Hate Studies

2021 Anti-Asian xenophobia (AAX) spiked during Covid-19, exacerbating health disparities among affected groups. This study uses data from a national survey to identify predictors of AAX to enable targeting of audience segments and effective messaging to counteract Anti-Asian attitudes and behaviors. Using Intergroup Threat Theory (ITT) to pinpoint possible predictors, we find that situation specific variables such as favorability toward Trump and information seeking and avoidance behaviors consistently predict higher levels of AAX. Individual differences like being female, well-educated, and having a high tolerance for ambiguity are negatively related to AAX.

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Uncertainty management and curve flattening behaviors in the wake of COVID-19’s first wave

Health Communication

2021 The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak poses a substantial threat to public health. Individual efforts to engage in COVID-19 precautionary behaviors are necessary to flatten the pandemic’s curve in the waiting period before a vaccine is developed. This study sought to apply the Theory of Motivated Information Management to investigate the relationships among COVID-19 illness uncertainty, information management, and actual precautionary behaviors, both preparatory and preventative. The results of a national opt-in online panel demonstrate that uncertainty discrepancy, anxiety, and information management strategies are key predictors of the adoption of COVID-19 preparation and prevention behaviors. The results further identify diverging associations across age groups with respect to associations between information management and precautionary behaviors. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

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vMOBilize: Gamifying civic learning and political engagement in a classroom context

Journal of Political Science Education

2021 This study presents the results of a quasi-experiment (N = 254) conducted over the course of ten weeks in Spring 2016 to assess the effectiveness of a game platform designed to facilitate political engagement, attention, efficacy, knowledge, and participation among college students. Results indicate positive effects of game play on several key dimensions of political engagement, including voter registration, virtual political participation (following a candidate on Twitter, liking a candidate on Facebook, and watching debates), and consumption of public affairs information (including National Public Radio (NPR), non-NPR political talk radio, and online news aggregator sites). In addition, game play provided significantly greater benefits to students with the lowest rates of political knowledge and engagement at baseline. Overall, participants reported high rates of game satisfaction, with 79% of participants reporting …

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Accomplishments (5)

"Propaganda and Persuasion" Published with "The Great Courses" (professional)


Roderick Hart Outstanding Book Award, National Communication Association's Political Communication Division (professional)


Robert M. Entman Award in Democracy and Political Communication, School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA) at The George Washington Universit (professional)


TED Ideas Winner and Presenter, TED 2020: Uncharted (professional)


Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Delaware (professional)


Education (3)

University of Pennsylvania: PhD, Communication 2007

University of Pennsylvania: MA, Communication 2001

University of New Hampshire: BA, Political Science and French 1998

Affiliations (2)

  • University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center : Distinguished Fellow
  • University of Arizona's National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) : Affiliated Researcher