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Photo of  Ralf  Schmäelzle

Ralf Schmäelzle

Assistant Professor


Assistant Professor Ralf Schmäelzle, Ph.D. is uniquely cross-trained in health psychology and communication as well as in social, cognitive and affective neuroscience.

He received his doctorate from the University of Konstanz, Germany, where he also held a postdoctoral position. Most recently, Schmäelzle worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Pennsylvania in the Communication Neuroscience Lab.

He lives in East Lansing with his wife and two preschoolers. They enjoy spending time with the kids or doing sports.

As an Assistant Professor in the MSU Department of Communication, Schmäelzle teaches a course on communication neuroscience. He draws on his previous teaching experience and interests to provide insights on neuroscientific research methods, linking micro-level message effects to macro-level outcomes, and mass messaging and campaigns.

Schmäelzle specializes in health communication and developing and testing communication theory with a biological focus.

In his research, he examines the mechanisms and effects of health risk perception and risk communication. His goal is to understand how people receive and process health messages, with a focus on implicit and affective reactions. He also studies media effects using a mixture of established methods and neural measures to capture the moment-by-moment response to messages. Through his work at MSU, Schmäelzle hopes to build a solid neuroscientific foundation to advance communication theory, and to deepen the integration of a neurobiological approach to communication across departments in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences.

His current work focuses on studying collective brain dynamics in response to real-world media stimuli, particularly public service announcements. He measures to what extent the same messages evoke similar responses in the brains of their recipients.

Schmäelzle, R., Häcker, F., Honey Christopher J, & Hasson, U.. (2015). Engaged Listeners: Shared neural processing of powerful political speeches. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neurosciences, 1, 168-169. [Link]


Lloyd, J. (Chair), Alvaro, E., Crano, W.D., Zhen, J.W., Schmäelzle, R., Evans, D. (2016). Transdiciplinary Research to Inform the Next Generation of Drug Use Prevention messages. Roundtable Discussion at the Society for Prevention Research Annual Meeting 2016, San Francisco, Ca, USA.

* Schmieder Foundation Award for Advances in Neurological Rehabilitation Research
* Tursky Award from the Society for Psychophysiological Research

Work Michigan State University College of Communication Arts and Sciences Building 404 Wilson Rd., Room 569 East Lansing MI 48824
Work Phone: (517) 353-6629
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