Sahara Byrne

Summer 2012 Mentor

Sahara Byrne is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Her overarching communication interest is in message disruption processes, a theoretical construct known as noise. To this end, her research focuses on the intersection of media effects, strategic communication and cognitive development. I examine strategies that attempt to reduce the negative effects of the media on individuals, particularly those intending to protect children, such as media literacy interventions, governmental policies, censorship, disclaimers, ratings systems, household restrictions, co-viewing and technological filters. She is most interested in why these strategies are sometimes ineffective or actually cause harm. Sahara’s recent research aims to explain why this ‘boomerang effect’ is likely to occur in response to many types of strategic messages, especially those that are pro-social such as health campaigns.