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Merissa Ferrara

Associate Professor

Address: 7 College, Room 303
Phone: 843.953.6788
E-mail: ferraramh@cofc.edu


Merissa Ferrara happily joined the Department of Communication in the fall of 2005 as an Assistant Professor specializing in Interpersonal and Health Communication. She teaches Introduction to Interpersonal Communication, Advanced Relationships, Gender Communication, Health Communication and Conflict.

Dr. Ferrara came to Charleston from Michigan State University, where she earned her MA and Ph.D. in Communication, with a specialization in Exercise Physiology. She was a graduate teaching assistant for five years, and was awarded the campus Graduate Teaching Award (2005). She received her bachelor's (1999) degree from Marquette University where she received the Dean Hellman Communication Scholarship, served as the campus mascot (the Golden Eagle), and participated in several campus organizations including Habitat for Humanity and Student Government.

Her research interests include health communication and interpersonal communication. Her current line of research investigates social support (or lack thereof) regarding maintaining a healthy lifestyle (i.e., weight loss, exercise). She has published several articles on such topics as how people really detect lies and the cognitive complexity of lies. For more on Dr. Ferrara's research on lying and deception, see this story in the College of Charleston Magazine. She was also a researcher with Johns Hopkins University, working to increase collective efficacy regarding the adoption of certain medications and family planning in hopes to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Namibia.

Dr. Ferrara is an advocate of student research and is always looking for people to participate in her research team. Current research projects include:

  • Whether and how to talk with current romantic partners about their ex relationships
  • Expectations that form during the job interview process and how those expectations affect job satisfaction and quality of life
  • Women’s Health topics (multi-vitamins, HPV, Morning after pill) – persuasion
  • Social undermining and adherence to a health decision
  • Deception in health advertising
  • Communication during the recruiting process for student athletes
  • Complaining
  • Family communication patterns and keeping secrets

Sample publications include:

Smith, R. Ferrara, M. & Witte, K. (2007). Social Sides of Health Risks: Stigma and Collective Efficacy. Health Communication, 21(1), 55-64.

Silk, K., Bigbsy, E., Volkman, J., Kingsley, C., Atkin, C., Ferrara, M., & Goins, L. (2006). Formative research on adolescent and adult perceptions of risk factors for breast cancer. Social Science and Medicine, 63(12), 3124-36.

Asada, K., Eunsoon,.L., Levine, T., & Ferrara, M. (2004). Narcissism and Empathy as Predictors of Obsessive Relational Intrusion. Communication Research Reports, 21(4). 379-390.

Park, E., Levine, T. R., Harms, C., & Ferrara M.  (2002).  Group and Individual Accuracy in Deception Detection.  Communication Research Reports, 19, 99-106

Park, H., Levine, T. R., McCornack, S., Morrison, K., & Ferrara, M.  (2002). How people really detect lies.  Communication Monographs, 69 (2), 144-157.


Education

M.A. and Ph.D., Communication, Michigan State University
B.A., Marquette University


Research Interests

  • Health communication
  • Interpersonal communication

Courses Taught

Spring 2011:
Comm 370
Comm 392

Course archive:
 Comm 220 (Fall 2008)
 Comm 320 (Fall 2008)
 Comm 521


Publications

Smith, R. Ferrara, M. & Witte, K. (2007). Social Sides of Health Risks: Stigma and Collective Efficacy. Health Communication, 21(1), 55-64.

Silk, K., Bigbsy, E., Volkman, J., Kingsley, C., Atkin, C., Ferrara, M., & Goins, L. (2006). Formative research on adolescent and adult perceptions of risk factors for breast cancer. Social Science and Medicine, 63(12), 3124-36.

Asada, K., Eunsoon,.L., Levine, T., & Ferrara, M. (2004). Narcissism and Empathy as Predictors of Obsessive Relational Intrusion. Communication Research Reports, 21(4). 379-390.

Park, E., Levine, T. R., Harms, C., & Ferrara M.  (2002).  Group and Individual Accuracy in Deception Detection.  Communication Research Reports, 19, 99-106

Park, H., Levine, T. R., McCornack, S., Morrison, K., & Ferrara, M.  (2002). How people really detect lies.  Communication Monographs, 69 (2), 144-157.