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Research of the Communication Science Department

The Department of Communication Science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an innovative and internationally visible research group that contributes to knowledge and theory development in the field, by conducting fundamental as well as societal relevant applied research.

The field of Communication Science has changed profoundly with the advent of new media technologies, new communication routines, and new empirical research methods. The department responds to these major trends by organizing research activities in the program “Communication Choice, Content, and Consequences (CCCC)”. Within this program three different research groups focus on three evolving areas that are considered of crucial importance to the field: Political Communication & Media Monitoring, Media Psychology and Digital Communication.

The staff of the department focus predominantly on these important themes within Communication Science, and do so in close collaboration with scholars from other disciplines within the Institute for Societal Resilience (ISR) of the Faculty of Social Sciences and the VU-based multidisciplinary Network Institute to analyze communication processes from different perspectives.

Accordingly, research is published in leading journals in Communication Science as well as in journals of related disciplines.

Digital Media & Behavior Lab

Digital Media & Behavior Lab

The DM&B lab serves as an incubator for collaborative research aimed at shaping a positive future for our increasingly digital society. Shifting from an information-driven society to a digital one, it becomes evident that digital technology has become an integral part of nearly every facet of our lives. Together with partners from within and outside academia, our aim is to chart a path towards a sustainable, prosocial, and resilient society.

Read more here.
Digital Media & Behavior Lab VU

Highlighted research

The way in which we consume news has changed considerably. News is often read via social media and not via traditional media. This brings new questions: what kind of news do people read? What kind of information do they get? How does that influence their opinion? Wouter van Atteveldt is professor of Computational Communication Science & Political Communication at the VU. In his research, he tries to answer these complex questions. 

Research Groups

  • Political Communication & Computational Methods

    Analyses of message content play a central role in Communication Science. The rapid rise of digitalized communication has opened up opportunities to gain insights by automatically examining vast amounts of content. The Research Group Political Communication, headed by prof. dr. Wouter van Atteveldt and dr. Mariken van der Velden, aims to further develop automated content analyses methods, with a special focus on applying these methods to analyses of political communication.

  • Media Psychology

    The Research Group Media Psychology, headed by prof. dr. Elly Konijn and dr. Jolanda Veldhuis, bridges media research and psychology to optimize our understanding of media use, processing and effects. Media psychology emphasizes the perspective of the individual media user, increasingly so in view of new communication technologies such as mobile apps, social media, virtual worlds, gaming, Virtual Reality, and social robotics.

    By integrating psychological theories and research methods with media research, we aim to unravel the fundamentals of human communicative processes using media. The results often have an applied value, generally to support learning, foster development, wellbeing and health, and enhance resilience. For example, based on increasing insights into gaming (both violent games and for educational purposes), self-presentation and social comparison on social media, cyberbullying, and communicating with social robots.

  • Digital Communication

    The advent of social media has changed the media landscape dramatically. Where media access has long been reserved for important social actors, nowadays everyone has the opportunity to potentially reach a large audience through social media. As a result, the way we communicate has changed, not only for individuals but also for governments, NGOs and businesses.

    Communication via social media is the main research topic of this research group, headed by prof. dr. Peter Kerkhof and dr. Philipp K. Masur. Major research themes of the social media labgroup include corporate communication in social media, the use of social media by individuals as a way to influence organizations, the use of social media in the context of health and health care, and self-regulation and excessive use of social media by individuals.

  • Publications

    For all publications of the department of Communication Science click here.

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Mailing address Communication Science department:
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen Afdeling Communicatiewetenschap
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam


Sylvia Gielink
Margriet Schager