Opinion: Artists, influencers key to successful public health messages re: COVID

May 9, 2023

1 min

Jill Sonke

Can the artists and culture-bearers among us help move people who are unvaccinated to action? That’s the hope of a new initiative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to build vaccine confidence across the country.

Read more from Jill Sonke in her op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Jill Sonke

Jill Sonke

Research Director/Research Associate Professor

Jill Sonke is active in research, teaching, and international cultural exchange.

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2 min

Smartphones push consumers to prefer a customizable purchasing experience

In a world where purchasing is only a click away, studies have shown that smartphones complicate the most preferred items. Aner Sela, a professor in UF’s Warrington College of Business conducted a new study that discovered consumers who are captivated by their phones gravitate towards specialized, custom products. Compared to large computers or borrowing someone’s phone, an individual’s phone sparks privatized feelings that allow stronger self-expression and strengthens our unconscious preference for a customized consumer journey. Working alongside Camilla Song, an assistant professor at City University of Hong Kong, Sela published their findings in the Journal of Marketing Research in early August. “When you use your phone, your authentic self is being expressed to a greater extent. That affects the options you seek and the attitudes you express,” said Sela, one of the authors of the study. The researchers suspected that smartphones encourage people to reflect on their inner identity, calling on the psychological state of private self-focus that affects all kinds of behaviors. “People with high levels of private self-focus tend to be more independent in the attitudes that they express. They conform less,” the UF professor said. “When they make choices, they tend to choose based on privately or deeply held beliefs, preferences or tastes, and they’re less influenced by social contexts.” Sela and Song chose to test if smartphones have the capability to promote enough private self-focus that it changes behavioral patterns, so they performed five experiments with undergraduates and online respondents. The study found that smartphone users were more likely to choose unique, tailored products rather than large ones than if the user hopped on a large computer. These results vanished if the user was given another phone from the same brand, suggesting that companies should alter their consumer suggestions based on the device they are using. The professor and her former doctoral student found the self-expression mindset likely to cause behavioral changes can be activated by the use of a smartphone. “With a borrowed phone, it doesn’t feel like you’re in your own little bubble. What we find is the use of smartphones and its activation of private self-focus is really unique to a personal device,” Sela said. By Halle Burton 

2 min

The World Cup proved to be big for sports and Qatar's business future

The 2022 FIFA World Cup was one of the world’s most-watched sporting events, but it also provided an opportunity for exponential growth for business development in the Middle East. Qatar was selected as the first country from the Middle East to host the worldwide tournament over 12 years ago, allowing plenty of time to prepare for the competition and create everlasting business relationships. Kyriaki Kaplanidou, a UF professor and researcher, published a study in 2016 for the Journal of Business Research, working alongside her fellow colleagues. The study followed the industrial progress made in Qatar after its 2010 selection and demonstrated how their networking efforts improved the Persian Gulf region business infrastructure. “The country has invested a great deal of time and money to expand its physical and human resources. They’ve had to understand how business is done in other countries, learn innovative construction techniques and develop their human capital in areas of knowledge, skill and awareness of other cultures and business practices,” Kaplanidou said. Kaplanidou and her team interviewed 24 Qatar sports organizations stakeholders, both indirectly and directly involved with the 2022 World Cup. Her research found that almost all the interviewees highlighted Qatar’s characteristics that either impede or improve their current development status. The most highlighted criteria pertained to labor cases pertaining to hazardous working conditions and displayed racial discrimination, as the United Nations put Qatar on blast for their treatment of infrastructure workers. The government decided to implement changes and with the introduction of new, stricter labor laws, Qatar is now considered one of the most worker-friendly places in the Gulf Region. Despite all the controversy surrounding the FIFA World Cup host country, fans were still excited to cheer on their team of choice, and the tournament provided Middle East countries with something to be proud of. “It will be interesting to see if the country can reposition itself in the business world and establish its presence in other industries now that it has gained new experience and knowledge through the process of preparing for this mega event,” Kaplanidou said. By Halle Burton

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