Paul Bolls

Associate Professor

178 Gannett Hall
Missouri School of Journalism
Columbia, MO 65211-1200


PAUL BOLLS focuses his research agenda on the cognitive/emotional processing of media. He is interested in discovering how content and production features of media can be combined to create effective public health campaign messages.
Bolls is a co-director of the Psychological Research on Information and Media Effects (PRIME) Lab. The PRIME Lab is an experimental research lab dedicated to the study of cognitive and emotional processing of media. Doctoral students use the lab facilities for their dissertations and other research. In 2005 the lab received a $56,700 grant from the National Cancer Institute, Center for Excellence in Cancer Communication Research, to study cognitive/emotional responses to breast cancer survivor narratives.

Bolls has been recognized for supporting and promoting undergraduate research and creative and scholarly achievement. The University of Missouri-Columbia Office of Undergraduate Research named him one of two recipients of the 2007 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award at the annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievements Forum. Two undergraduate students that Bolls mentored presented original scholarly research at an annual meeting of the International Communication Association.

Prior to joining the Missouri School of Journalism, Bolls taught and directed the Laboratory for the Study of Communication, Emotion and Cognition at Washington State University in Pullman. His work has been published in Communication Research, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Journal of Marketing Communications and Media Psychology. Bolls has presented his research to professional groups including the National Association of Broadcasters, Seattle Advertising Federation and Danish National Radio. He has served as the vice chair of the Information Systems division of ICA.

Bolls completed his doctorate degree at Indiana University in Bloomington in 1999. He holds a master’s degree from Washington State University and bachelor’s degree from Montana State University in Bozeman. Bolls’ professional background includes eight years working in commercial radio.


  • Potter, R.F. & Bolls, P.D. (2012). Psychophysiological Measurement and Meaning: Cognitive and emotional processing of media. New York: Routledge

Book Chapters

  • Bartholow, B. & Bolls, P.D. (in press). Media Psychophysiology: The brain and beyond. In K. Dill (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology. Oxford University Press.
  • Bolls, P.D., Wise, K., & Bradley, S.D. (2012). Embodied motivated cognition: A theoretical framework for studying dynamic mental processes underlying advertising exposure. In S. Rodgers & E. Thorson (Eds.), Advertising theory (pp.105-119). New York: Routledge.
  • Lang, A., Potter, R.F., & Bolls, P.D. (2009). Where Psychophysiology Meets the Media: Taking the effects out of mass media research. In J. Bryant & M.B. Oliver (Eds.) Media Effects: Advances in theory and research, 3rd edition. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Eastman, S.T. & Bolls, P.D. (2000). Structure and Content in Promotion Research. In S.T. Eastman (Ed.) Research in Media Promotion, Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 55-100.

Refereed Publications

  • Kim, S., Kim, D., & Bolls, P.D. (2014). Tourist mental-imagery processing: Attention and arousal. Annals of Tourism Research, 45, 63-76.
  • Norris, R.L., Bailey, R. L., Bolls, P.D., & Wise, K.R. (2012). Effects of emotional tone and visual complexity on processing health information in prescription drug advertising. Health Communication, 27(1), 42-48.
  • Appelman, A. & Bolls, P.D. (2011). Article recall, credibility lower with grammar errors. Newspaper Research Journal. 32(2). 50-62.
  • Leshner, G., Bolls, P.D., & Wise, K. (2011). Motivated processing of fear appeal and disgust images in televised anti-tobacco ads. Journal of Media Psychology, 23(2), 77-89.
  • Bolls, P.D. (2011). Communication: Information Processing. Oxford Bibliographies Online.
  • Eckler, P. & Bolls, P.D. (2011). Spreading the virus: Emotional tone of viral advertising and its effect on forwarding intentions and attitudes. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 11 (2), 1-11.
  • Bolls, P.D. (2010). Understanding emotion from a superordinate dimensional perspective: A productive way forward for communication processes and effects studies. Communication Monographs, 77(2), 146-152.
  • Bailey, R., Wise, K. & Bolls, P. (2009), How avatar customizability affects children’s arousal and subjective presence during junk food-sponsored online video games. CyberPsychology & Behavior. 12(3), 277-283.
  • Wise, K., Bolls, P., Myers, J., & Sternadori, M. (2009). When words collide online: How writing style and video intensity affect cognitive processing of online news, Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 53(4), 532-546.
  • Potter, R.F., Lang, A., & Bolls, P.D. (2008). Identifying Structural Features of Audio: Orienting responses during radio messages and their impact on recognition. Journal of Media Pscyhology, 20(4), 169-178.
  • Wise, K., Bolls, P.D., Kim, H., Venkataraman, A., & Meyer, R. (2008). Enjoyment of advergames results in more positive brand attitudes when the game and the brand are thematically related. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 9(1).
  • Wise, K., Bolls, P.D., Schaefer, Samantha, (2008). Choosing and reading online news: How available choice affects cognitive processing. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 52(1), 69-85.
  • Bolls, P.D. (2007), It’s just your imagination: The effect of imagery on product versus non-product information in radio advertisements. Journal of Radio Studies, 13(2), 201-213.
  • Bolls, P.D. & Muehling, D. (2007), The effects of dual-task processing on consumers’ responses to high- and low-imagery radio advertisements. Journal of Advertising, 36(4), 35-48.
  • Bolls, P.D. & Lang, A. (2003). I Saw it on the Radio: The allocation of attention to high imagery radio advertisements. Media Psychology. 5(1), 49-71.
  • Bolls, P.D., Muehling, D.D. & Yoon, K. (2003). The effects of television commercial pacing on viewers’ attention and memory. Journal of Marketing Communications, 9, 17-28.
  • Eastman, S., Newton, G., & Bolls, P.D. (2003). How promo content changes ratings: The impact of appeals, humor, and presentation. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 31 (3), 238-259.
  • Bolls, P.D. (2002). I can hear you but can I see you: The use of visual cognition during exposure to high imagery radio advertisements. Communication Research, 29 (5), 537-563.
  • Bolls, P.D., Lang, A. & Potter, R.F. (2001). The effects of message valence and listener arousal on attention, memory and facial muscular responses to radio. Communication Research, 28 (5), 627-651.
  • Grabe, M. E., Zhou, S., Lang, A. and Bolls, P. (2000). Packaging television news: The effects of tabloid on information processing and evaluative responses. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 44 (4) 581-598.
  • Grabe, M. E. , Lang, A. , Zhou, S., and Bolls, P. (2000). Cognitive access to negatively arousing news: An experimental investigation of the knowledge gap. Communication Research, 27 (1) 3-26.
  • Lang, A., Zhou, S., Schwartz, N., Bolls, P.D., & Potter, R.F. (2000). The effects of edits on arousal, attention and memory for television messages: When an edit is an edit can an edit be too much? Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 44 (1) 94-109.
  • Lang, A., Bolls, P., Potter, R.F. & Kawahara, K. (1999). The effects of production pacing and arousing content on the information processing of television messages. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 43 (4) 451-475.
  • Austin, E.W., Bolls, P. & Engelbertson, J. (1999). How and why parents take on the tube. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 43, (2), 175 – 192.
  • Bolls, P.D., Potter, R.F. & Callison, C. (1999). Intense Emotions: The effects of message valence on attitude toward the ad. In M.S. Roberts, Ed., The Proceedings of the 1999 Conference of the American Academy of Advertising, 10-16.
  • Lang, A., Potter, R.F. & Bolls, P.D.(1999). Something for nothing: Is visual encoding automatic? Media Psychology. 1 (2), 145-163.
  • Yoon, K. Bolls, P.D., & Muehling, D. (1999). The moderating role of involvement and the effects of content arousal and pace on viewers’ attitudes toward the ad. Media Psychology, 1 (4), 331-352.
  • Bolls, P.D. & Potter, R.F. (1998). I Saw it on the radio: The effects of imagery evoking radio commercials on listeners’ allocation of attention and attitude toward the ad. In D. Muehling, Ed., The Proceedings of the 1998 Conference of the American Academy of Advertising, 123-130.
  • Yoon, K., Bolls, P.D. & Lang, A. (1998). The effects of advertising pace and arousal on ad and brand attitudes and behavioral intention. Journal of Marketing Communications, 4, 101-114.
  • Bolls, P.D., Tan, A. & Austin, E. (1997). An exploratory comparison of Native American and Caucasian students’ attitudes toward teacher communication behavior. Communication Education, 46 (3), 198-202.
  • Bolls, P.D. & Tan, A. (1996). Communication anxiety and teacher communication competence among Native American and Caucasian students. Communication Research Reports, 13 (2), 205-213.

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