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The influence of emotions on knowledge transfer regarding deep brain stimulation

Working groupSocial Processes Lab
FundingFederal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Project description

Although advancements in life sciences enjoy great popularity in media coverage, it is unclear how this dissemination of scientific findings affects knowledge transfer in recipients. Using Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) as example, the current project investigates how emotions affect information processing regarding scientific findings. Accordingly, insights provided by the project contribute to a broader knowledge regarding internet usage during leisure time.


The current project is part of a broader network of projects (ELSA Forschungstransfer) addressing the topic 'From life sciences to Society: The example of Deep Brain Stimulation'. Here, it is investigated to what extent emotions elicited by journalistic contributions addressing the topic of DBS affect knowledge transfer regarding DBS. Generally, emotions can bias information processing and information on DBS has the potential to elicit strong emotions by emphasizing either the positive or negative aspects of the subject and by using different perspectives. Hence, the present project addresses the influence of different journalistic techniques used in media coverage on information processing and knowledge transfer regarding DBS.


Preliminary findings indicate that stronger emotions are elicited when information on DBS is presented in an audio compared to a written format. Additionally, information presented from a concerned patient elicits stronger emotions compared to when the same information is presented from doctors. Results also yield that the negative emotions elicited in recipients, in turn, lead to better memory performance regarding negative DBS-related contents.


The findings gathered in this project also bear practical relevance in that they indicate that a popular journalistic technique (presenting information in a personalized manner) to make information on scientific, medical advancements more accessible to a broader public may have the detriment of biasing knowledge transfer regarding the respective subject.


Prof. Dr. Jens Clausen, University of Tübingen, Department for the Ethics of Medicine

Prof Dr. Dr. Urban Wiesing, University of Tübingen, Department for the Ethics of Medicine


Sassenrath, C., Greving, H., & Sassenberg, K. (2018). Are you concerned? Patient testimonials in medical communication affect healthy recipients' emotions and memory. Frontiers in Communication, 3:18.

Sassenrath, C., Greving, H., & Sassenberg, K. (2017). It has to be first-hand: The effect of first-person testimonials in medical communication on recipients' emotions and memory. Cogent Medicine, 4: 1354492.

Sassenberg, K., & Wiesing, U. (2016). Internet-informierte Patienten – Empirische Evidenz für einseitige Informationsverarbeitung und ihre medizinethischen Implikationen. Zeitschrift für Medizinische Ethik, 62, 299-311.