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Saleem Alhabash - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Saleem Alhabash Saleem Alhabash

Assistant Professor of Public Relations | Michigan State University


Expert in social and new media






Faculty conversations: Saleem Alhabash [RJI] Digital media and the Middle East Course Introduction.mp4



Saleem Alhabash is an Assistant Professor of Public Relations and Social Media, jointly appointed by the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, and the Department of Media and Information. His research focuses on the processes and effects of new and social media. More specifically, Saleem’s research investigates the cognitive and emotional responses, and psychological effects associated with using social networking sites and playing serious/persuasive video games. His research is geared toward understanding how new communication technologies can be utilized in cross-cultural and international communication, with emphasis on changing attitudes and stereotypes of foreign nations. Saleem received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He brings a diverse experience in global media and strategic communication.

Industry Expertise (4)

Media - Online Social Media Research Education/Learning

Areas of Expertise (6)

Advertising and Public Relations Media and Information Social Media Journalism Editing Persuasion and Emotional Response

Accomplishments (3)

Top Faculty Paper (Third Place) (professional)


Awarded by the The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Advertising Division

Top Faculty Paper (Second Place) (professional)


Awarded by the The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Minorities and Communication Division

Top Student Poster Award (personal)


Awarded by the Society for Psychophysiological Research

Education (3)

University of Missouri: Ph.D., Journalism 2011

University of Missouri: M.A., Journalism 2008

Birzeit University: B.A., Journalism and Political Science 2005

Affiliations (2)

  • Games for Entertainment & Learning (GEL) Lab @ MSU
  • Muslim Studies Program @ MSU

News (8)

Facebook's Targeted Ads Are More Complex Than It Lets On

Wired  online


Facebook marketers rarely however stick to one category to target you. To identify an audience who will engage with a specific advertisement, marketers need to know how to best combine these categories.

“Interest doesn’t mean you like the topic, it just means you keep looking at it or something like that,” says Content Harmony's Jamison. A user might, for example, show an interest in Donald Trump, but it doesn’t mean they like the president, it just means they read stories related to him. To target people who genuinely like Trump, marketers would need to combine an interest in him with another category. But users don't always know how these combinations happen, or why, making it difficult to know the exact reasons you may be seeing an ad targeted to you. Facebook does allow you to click the three dots in the corner of any advertisement and view some information about why you're seeing it, but it's difficult to get a clear picture.

"Whatever information goes into sense-making about an individual and grouping people into different groups and segments is much more than demographic," says Saleem Alhabash, a professor at Michigan State University and the co-director of its Media and Advertising Psychology Lab. "It's the things you interact with, every URL you click on—not only on Facebook but elsewhere on the internet—also how you interact with your friends, all of this gets muddled into making sense of you and providing you with relevant ads."

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Facebook Has Ability to Let Advertisers Know When Teens Feel ‘Worthless.’ What Are the Implications?

Yahoo  online


Saleem Alhabash, Ph.D, an assistant professor of public relations and social media at Michigan State University, agrees, telling Yahoo Beauty that this kind of technology has the potential to be more effective at targeting people than self-reported measures, like surveys, which are subject to dishonesty.

“From an advertising/marketing perspective, knowing the emotional state the consumers are experiencing is essential to learning more about them, but more importantly, it is critical for making sense of which type of messages and appeals might be effective when consumers are experiencing such emotions,” he says.

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Burger King launches TV ad that triggers Google Home: clever marketing trick or invasive ploy?

Christian Science Monitor  online


On Wednesday, a Burger King television ad likely became the first ever to intentionally trigger smart devices like Google Home and Android phones.

The response to the new ad highlights many of the concerns associated with privacy and security concerns in an increasingly digital world. But while this might be the first ad to target users who already own a Google Home or other listening smart device, privacy-invading strategies companies use to target customers are nothing new, says Saleem Alhabash, a professor of Public Relations and Social Media at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.

"Behavioral targeting has been applied for quite some time now," Dr. Alhabash tells The Christian Science Monitor in an email. "Advertisers, including Google, have been recording our digital traces and through algorithmic manipulation, providing us with tailored ads that are more meaningful to us."

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MSU Employees Look to End Bullying Through Research, Legislation

The State News  


Epling has teamed up with assistant professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations Saleem Alhabash to continue his work on preventing bullying. Alhabash has spent three to four years researching the effects of bullying with a focus on cyberbullying among college students.

“Most of the focus, when we talk about bullying and cyberbullying, centers around school age populations so kids in high school, middle school, this is where a lot of emphasis is about,” Alhabash said. “Somehow we think that when people graduate high school and become college students, magically the bullying and cyberbullying stop.”...

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Conversation On Bullying Empowers Students and Parents



Panelists included Glenn Stutzky, MSW, Michigan State University School of Social Work; Tom Holt, PhD, Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice; Saleem Alhabash, PhD, Michigan State University College of Communication Arts and Sciences; Dr. Marlene Seltzer, Beaumont Hospital/NoBLE Clinic; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Barbara McQuade; Michigan State Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein; and Kenneth Gutman, Walled Lake Superintendent...

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Social Media Could Be Driving You To Drink



“We wanted to see whether just the mere exposure to alcohol messages on social media makes any difference in terms of people’s expressing intentions to consume alcohol, as well as engage in alcohol-related consumption behaviors,” Saleem Alhabash, an assistant professor of advertising and public relations and lead researcher of the study, told Michigan State University Today...

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Party On(line): The Link Between Social Media, Alcohol Use

MSU Today  


“In this study we wanted to see whether just the mere exposure to alcohol messages on social media makes any difference in terms of people’s expressing intentions to consume alcohol, as well as engage in alcohol-related consumption behaviors,” said Saleem Alhabash, assistant professor of advertising and public relations who headed up the study...

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Religious Rhetoric Not Helpful in Anti-Alcohol Messages

MSU Today  


Saleem Alhabash, an assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations, tested out the theory on a group of students in his native Palestine.

To his surprise, his team found that adding a verse from the Koran to the message did not discourage viewers from drinking, considering drinking or urging others to drink.

“Contrary to popular or stereotypical belief, adding religious rhetoric to a health message is not going to work in this particular context,” Alhabash said. “One would think that would be the case in this region where people often blindly follow anything religious. But our results show otherwise.”...

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Journal Articles (6)

Pathways to Virality: Psychophysiological Responses Preceding Likes,Shares, Comments, and Status Updates on Facebook Media Psychology

Saleem Alhabash, Nasser Almutairi, Chen Lou & Wonkyung Kim


Facebook use has become habitual to social network site (SNS) users, yet little is known about the psychological processes at play while using this platform. This study explored how psychophysiological responses vary as a function of liking, commenting, sharing, or posting status updates interactions on Facebook’s newsfeeds. Participants were instructed to enact common Facebook activities or viral behaviors (like, share, comment, and update a status) in brief segments, while their psychophysiological responses were recorded. Our results showcase different approaches to dealing with psychophysiological responses for undefined, uncontrolled (organic) stimuli. We contrasted Facebook organic use segments that ended with pressing on the like button to those that did not end with liking the Facebook post. In the second method of data analysis, we analyzed psychophysiological data at the participant level using the 10 sec preceding the enactment of the 4 viral behaviors. Our findings showed that, indeed, the pathways leading up to performing online behaviors are diverse, thus indicating different underlying psychological processes. Findings’ theoretical and practical implications are discussed within the broader context of understanding social media behaviors.

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A tale of four platforms: Motivations and uses of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat among college students? Social Media+ Society


The current research explores differences between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat in terms of intensity of use, time spent daily on the platform, and use motivations. The study applies the uses and gratifications (U&G) approach to contrast the four platforms. A cross-sectional survey of college students (N = 396) asked participants to indicate the intensity of using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat as well as nine different use motivations. Findings show that participants spent the most time daily on Instagram, followed by Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter, respectively. They also indicated the highest use intensity for Snapchat and Instagram (nearly equally), followed by Facebook and Twitter, respectively. With regard to use motivations, Snapchat takes the lead in five of the nine motivations. Findings are discussed in relation to the U&G approach and uniqueness of different social media and social networking sites (SNSs).

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Understanding online safety behaviors: A protection motivation theory perspective Computers & Security


Internet users experience a variety of online security threats that require them to enact safety precautions. Protection motivation theory (PMT) provides a theoretical framework for understanding Internet users' security protection that has informed past research. Ongoing research on online safety recommends new motivational factors that are integrated here in a PMT framework for the first time. Using PMT, a cross-sectional survey (N = 988) of Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) users was conducted to examine how classical and new PMT factors predicted security intentions. Coping appraisal variables were the strongest predictors of online safety intentions, especially habit strength, response efficacy, and personal responsibility. Threat severity was also a significant predictor. Incorporating additional factors (i.e., prior experiences, subjective norms, habit strength, perceived security support, and personal responsibility) into the conventional PMT model increased the model's explanatory power by 15%. Findings are discussed in relation to advancing PMT within the context of online security for home computer users.

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Between likes and shares: Effects of emotional appeal and virality on the persuasiveness of anticyberbullying messages on Facebook Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking


Growth in the popularity of social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook has been accompanied by unintended negative results (eg, cyberbullying). SNSs could offer solutions, as well. In this article, we explore the persuasive effects of the emotional appeal and message virality of Facebook status updates. Using status updates for a fictitious anticyberbullying organization, we conducted a 3× 2× 2× 3 (emotional tone× affective evaluation× viral reach× message repetition) mixed factorial experiment (N= 365).

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Exploring the motivations of Facebook use in Taiwan Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking


The current study explored the motivations of online social network use among a sample of the general population in Taiwan (N= 4,346). It investigated how seven different motivations to use Facebook predicted the intensity of Facebook use and content-generation behaviors on Facebook. Results showed that the motivation to use Facebook for posting and viewing status updates was the strongest predictor of Facebook intensity, while the motivation to view and share photographs was the strongest predictor of content- ...

Emotional responses during social information seeking on Facebook Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking


Based on existing research on social networking and information seeking, it was proposed that Facebook. com use could be conceptualized as serving two primary goals: passive social browsing (ie, newsfeeds) and extractive social searching (ie, friends' profiles). This study explored whether these categories adequately reflect Facebook use and whether they moderate physiological indicators of emotion. Thirty-six participants navigated Facebook. com while their on-screen activity and physiological responses associated with ...

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