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Erik Bucy

Erik Bucy

Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Telecommunications
Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Informatics and Department of Political Science


ebucy 'at'


PhD, University of Maryland, College Park, Mass Communication, 1998
MA, University of Southern California, Print Journalism, 1989
BA, University of California, Los Angeles, English Literature, 1986

Teaching and Research Interests

Teaching interests: political communication, social impact of new information and communication technologies, interactivity and communication theory.

Research interests: political appropriateness, psychological responses to emotion-laden images in the news, media access, news credibility, normative theories of media and democracy.

In the study of media and democracy, a problem arises from the tendency to assess the imperfect processes of politics and communication in relation to an idealized system in which citizens are presumed to be interested in, attentive to, and supportive of the political system and media institutions are held to be comprehensive, accurate, and politically balanced. This view of democracy approaches political information and involvement from the perspective of political elites, in other words, from the top or power center, rather than from the bottom or periphery of the system. My research takes a different approach, investigating civic involvement from the point of view of the "typical" citizen or audience member who, in general, is not very attentive to the news or politics but who manages to make reliable assessments about events in the public sphere through information gleaned largely from mass media and who feels some sense of connection to the political system through communication technology. Importantly, information from news can take the form of verbal narratives or visual images. Both play a vital role in informed citizenship, although images are under appreciated for their information value.

Using this observation as a departure point, the studies I have conducted can be categorized into three streams of research. First, several of my experimental studies have examined the cognitive, emotional, and physiological consequences of leader portrayals on television news, particularly the nonverbal component of those portrayals. From this research I have derived a model of viewer processing of traumatic news. In experimental work I am elaborating the related concept of political appropriateness. In a second stream of research, I have investigated how new communication technologies and media formats affect civic participation and assessments of news credibility. These studies address the interplay between media content and media technology. A third interest of mine, which pulls back from individual-level processes to consider larger civic and journalistic concerns, involves normative theories of media and democracy. Here, I have examined the intellectual assumptions of political communication research and the purported crisis surrounding the news media's increasing structural role in campaigns, elections, and civic life generally.

Funded Research

My research on media credibility and synergy effects between on-air and online news has been funded with grants from the National Association of Broadcasters and the Office of Research at Indiana University. A longitudinal study of visual bias and nonverbal communication in network news coverage of the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential elections has been supported, in part, with awards from the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University and the Office of Academic Affairs at Indiana University.

Primary Courses

  • I202: Social Informatics
  • T101: Living in the Information Age
  • T312: Politics & the Media
  • T451: Film & Politics
  • T512: Communication & Politics
  • T551: Communication, Technology, & Society
  • T585: Interactivity & New Media
  • T602: Political Psychology

Teaching Awards

  • Human Biology Seminar Faculty Fellowship, 2006 Human Biology Summer Institute, Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington.
  • Trustees Teaching Award, College of Arts & Sciences, Indiana University, 2001
  • Teaching Excellence Recognition Award, Dept. of Telecommunications, 2000
  • Course Development Summer Fellowship, Dept. of Telecommunications, 2002, and School of Informatics, 2000

Selected Papers

  • Bucy, E. P., & Grabe, M. E. (2008). “Happy Warriors” Revisited: Hedonic and Agonic Display Repertoires of Presidential Candidates on the Evening News. Politics and the Life Sciences, 27(1), 24-44. [abstract]
  • Bucy, E. P., & Grabe, M. E. (2007). Taking Television Seriously: A Sound and Image Bite Analysis of Presidential Campaign Coverage, 1992-2004. Journal of Communication, 57, 652-675. [abstract]
  • Bucy, E. P., & Tao, C.-C. (2007). The Mediated Moderation Model of Interactivity. Media Psychology, 9(3), 647-672. [abstract]
  • Song, I., & Bucy, E. P. (2007). Interactivity and Political Attitude Formation: A Mediation Model of Online Information Processing. Journal of Information Technology and Politics, 4(2), 29-61. [abstract]
  • Tao, C.-C., & Bucy, E. P. (2007). Conceptualizing Media Stimuli in Experimental Research: Psychological versus Attribute-Based Definitions. Human Communication Research, 33(4), 397-426. [abstract]
  • Bucy, E. P. (2005). The Media Participation Hypothesis. In M. S. McKinney, L. L. Kaid, D. G. Bystrom, & D. B. Carlin (Eds.), Communicating Politics: Engaging the Public in Democratic Life (pp. 107-122). New York: Peter Lang Publishing. [abstract]
  • Bucy, E. P. (2004). Interactivity in Society: Locating an Elusive Concept. The Information Society, 20 (5). [abstract]
  • Bucy, E. P., & Bradley, S. D. (2004). Presidential Expressions and Viewer Emotion: Counterempathic Responses to Televised Leader Displays. Social Science Information/ Information sur les Sciences Sociales, 43 (1), 59-94. [abstract]
  • Bucy, E. P. (2003). Emotion, Presidential Communication, and Traumatic News: Processing the World Trade Center Attacks. Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 8 (4), 76-96. [abstract]

Research Monographs

Edited Books

Newsletter Articles

Journal Editing

Campus Service (past and present)

  • Coordinator, Colloquium on Political Communication Research, Schuessler Institute for Social Research
  • Elected member, Policy Committee, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Elected member, Bloomington Faculty Council and University Faculty Council
  • Co-chair, Long Range Planning Committee, Bloomington Faculty Council
  • Member, Grant-in-Aid Committee, BFC Faculty Affairs Committee
  • Community advisory board member, WTIU-TV, public television for south-central Indiana