Never before have such a large number of images been as easy to access as they are in the era of electronic and social media. A pilot study is now trying to discover how these images influence people's willingness to take part in social and political protest movements such as the anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic movement PEGIDA. The project is called "Still Images - Moving People? How visual images trigger the willingness to participate in political protest." In it, Prof. Dr. Diana Panke of the Department of Political Science at the University of Freiburg, Dr. Axel Heck of the University of Kiel, and Dr. Stephanie Geise of the University of Münster are exploring the connection between media images, the emotions they trigger and people's willingness to protest. The Friede Springer Foundation is providing 156,000 euros for the one-and-a-half year project.
The researchers are analyzing how and under what conditions evocative media images touching on environmental or economic issues, for example, produce reactions in the emotions, thoughts, and behavior of observers. In doing this, the researchers are using a new approach that combines different methods. They are surveying study participants both before and after they view an image, while at the same time, they are using a technique known as eye-tracking to capture what the test subjects are looking at in an image. The researchers are also recording the reactions spontaneously using real-time reporting.