Barbara Maleckar

Health Narratives

Barbara Maleckar

Department of Media, Knowledge and Communication at Augsburg University


Barbara Malečkar studied psychology at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria. In 2013, she obtained her PhD from the University of Winchester, UK, with a thesis about the framing of crime news about domestic violence through inviting readers’ engagement with either the victim or the perpetrator, and the persuasive effect of such frames. Since 2013, she is based at the University of Augsburg, Germany, where she was first involved in a research project about moral effects of television series. Recently, she obtained a Post-Doctoral scholarship to research the impact of narrative quality on the persuasive power of stories.


Barbara’s expertise lies in the area of narrative persuasion and both the textual characteristics and reader processes that impact it. Among reader processes, she investigated the differential role of identification, perspective taking, empathy and sympathy in enabling persuasion through narratives. Among textual characteristic, she is interested in elements of narrative quality, such as the tellability and eventfulness of a story according to which the narrative may or may not be perceived to make a point. This is also linked to the notion of the perceived meaningfulness of the story, which might be anticipated through the truth labels accompanying the text of the story, such as the fact, fiction, or fake label; another influencing factor of persuasion explored previously. Within health communication, she is interested in applying the investigation of story point and meaning to explore the potential of reading fiction and illness memoires to aid cancer patients’ coping with their illness. Coping may be facilitated through surrogate social connections with story characters, as well as through story portrayals of crisis and existential issues which may guide patients when pondering questions arisen by their own illness.


Narrative persuasion, character engagement, narrative quality, coping with illness.

Key publications

Appel, M., & Malečkar, B. (2012). The influence of paratext on narrative persuasion: Fact, fiction, or fake? Human Communication Research, 38, 459-484. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2012.01432.x

Malečkar, B., Giles, D., & Zawisza, M. (2014, May). Narrative persuasion as a mechanism of framing effects: The mediating role of engagement with characters in crime news. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, Seattle, USA.

Malečkar, B., & Hamachers, A. (2014, June). This story has a point: Persuasion as a consequence of seeking the narrative meaning. Poster presented at the StoryNet Symposium, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, Budapest, Hungary.