Josh Compton

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor of Speech

I’ve been studying inoculation as a way to confer resistance to influence for more than 20 years. Persuasion inoculation is modeled after medical inoculation: a weakened form of a challenge motivates resistance to stronger challenges encountered later. Most of my work of late focuses on the theory itself—how it works, why it works, and whether it might work better. My applied work is mostly in mis- and disinformation, science communication, health communication, and sport. 

37 Dewey Field Road, #228
HB 6250
Institute for Writing and Rhetoric
Ph.D. University of Oklahoma

Selected Publications

Compton, J., Wigley, S., & Samoilenko, S. (2021). Inoculation theory and public relations. Public Relations Review47(5).

Compton, J. (2021). Threat and/in inoculation theory. International Journal of Communication 15, 1-13. doi:1932–8036/2021FEA0002

Compton, J., van der Linden, S., Cook, J., & Basol, M. (2021). Inoculation theory in the post-truth era: Extant findings and new frontiers for contested science, misinformation, and conspiracy theories. Social and Personality Psychology Compass (15), 1-16.

Clear, S. E., Dimmock, J. A., Compton, J., & Jackson, B. (2021). How do inoculation messages work? A two-study mixed-method investigation into inoculation mechanisms. Asian Journal of Communication 31(2), 83-104.

Compton, J. (2020). Prophylactic versus therapeutic inoculation treatments for resistance to influence. Communication Theory 30(3), 330-343.

van der Linden, S., Roozenbeek, J., & Compton, J. (2020). Inoculating against fake news about COVID-19. Frontiers in Psychology.

Compton, J., & Mason, A. (2020). Narrative and the inoculation theory of resistance to influence. In S. S. Dunn & G. Nisbett (Eds.), Innovations and implications of persuasive narrative (pp. 23-42). Peter Lang Publishing.

Compton, J. (2019). “Inoculate yourself with the word of God”: Persuasion inoculation, medical inoculation, and religious rhetoric. Journal of Media and Religion, 18(4), 115-121.

Compton, J. (2019). Inoculation at play: Happiness, funniness, types of play, and inoculation theory. STAM Journal, 49, 1-16.

Compton, J. (2020). Inoculation against/as character assassination. In S.A. Samoilenko, M. Icks, J. Keohane, & E. Shiraev. (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of character assassination (pp. 25-35). London, New York, NY: Routledge.

Compton, J., & Craig, E. A. (2019). Family communication patterns, inoculation theory, and adolescent substance abuse prevention: Harnessing postinoculation talk and family communication environments to spread positive influence. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 11(2), 277-288.

Compton, J. (2019). Late night television comedy, mid-afternoon congressional testimony: Attacks on Stephen Colbert’s House Judiciary committee appearance. Comedy Studies.

Compton, J. (2019). Inoculation theory and metaliterate learning. In T. P. Mackey & T. Jacobson (Eds.), Metaliterate learning in the post-truth world (pp. 63-79). Chicago: ALA Publishing.

Compton, J. (2019). A vaccine for boredom? Considering inoculation theory as a messaging strategy to better engage, and retain, a millennial workforce. In S. A. Smith (Ed.), Recruitment, retention, and engagement of a millennial workforce (pp. 163-176). Landham, MD: Lexington Books.

Compton, J. (2018). Inoculating against/with political humor. In J. Baumgartner & A. B. Becker (Eds.), Political humor in a changing media landscape: A new generation of research (pp. 95-114). Landham, MD: Lexington Books.

Compton, J., & Ivanov, B. (2018). Inoculation messaging. In B. Jackson, J. Dimmock, & J. Compton (Eds.), Persuasion and communication in sport, exercise, and physical activity. (pp. 73-90). Abington, UK: Routledge.

van der Linden, S., Roozenbeek, J., Oosterwoud, R., Compton, J., & Lewandowsky, S. (2018). The science of prebunking: Inoculating the public against fake news. In Written evidence submitted to the Parliamentary Inquiry on Fake News. Available:

Compton, J. (2018). Osler’s Man’s Redemption of Man: Preemptive protection, attitudinal inoculation, and smallpox inoculation. Proceedings of the 2018 Conference of the Society for the Academic Study of Social Imagery, 22-25.

Compton, J. (2018). When weather forecasters are wrong: Image repair and public rhetoric after severe weather. Science Communication.

Compton, J., & Compton, J. L. (2018). The athlete’s image, visual representation, and image repair/image prepare: Tom Brady, Jane Rosenberg, and the courtroom sketches. The International Journal of the Image, 9(2).

Compton, J. (2018). Presidents on speechwriting: United States presidents’ public statements about speechwriting. The Forensic of Pi Kappa Delta, 103(1), 1-12.

Compton, J. (2017). Food safety and corporate public relations: Image repair and the Tesco horse DNA scandal. PRism, 14(1), 1-8.

Jackson, B., Compton, J., Thornton, A. L., & Dimmock, J. A. (2017). Re-thinking anxiety: Using inoculation messages to reduce and reinterpret public speaking fears. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0169972.

Compton, J. (2016). Inoculating against a losing season: Can inoculation-informed public relations strategies protect fan loyalty? International Journal of Sport Communication, 9(1), 1-12.

Compton, J. (2016). Image prepare: Image repair, inoculation theory, and anticipated attacks on credibility. The International Journal of the Image, 8(1), 1-9.

Compton, J., Jackson, B., & Dimmock, J. A. (2016). Persuading others to avoid persuasion: Inoculation theory and resistant health attitudes. Frontiers in Psychology 7 (122).

Compton, J. (2015). Political humor on the radio, image repair, and Gracie Allen’s 1940 presidential campaign. Journal of Radio and Audio Media, 22(2), 255-264.

Compton, J., & Compton, J. L. (2015). Open letters from the National Football League, concussion prevention, and image repair rhetoric. International Journal of Sport Communication 8(3), 266-275.

Ivanov, B., Sims, J. D., Compton, J., Miller, C. H., Parker, K. A., Parker, J. L., Harrison, K. J., & Averbeck, J. M. (2015). The general content of postinoculation talk: Recalled issue-specific conversations following inoculation treatments. Western Journal of Communication, 79(2), 218-238.

Jackson, B., Compton, J., Whiddett, R., Anthony, D. R., & Dimmock, J. A. (2015). Preempting performance challenges: The effects of inoculation messaging on attacks to task self-efficacy. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0124886.

Compton, J., & Compton, J. L. (2014). College sports, losing seasons, and image repair through open letters to fans. Communication & Sport, 2(4), 345-362.

Compton, J. (2013). Inoculation theory. In J. P. Dillard & L. Shen (Eds.), The Sage handbook of persuasion: Developments in theory and practice, 2nd ed., (pp. 220-237). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Compton, J., & Ivanov, B. (2013). Vaccinating voters: New directions for political campaign inoculation scholarship. Annals of the International Communication Association, 37 (1), 250-283.

Compton, J., & Kaylor, B. T. (2013). Inoculating for small pox inoculation objections in Reverend Cooper’s Letter to a Friend in the Country. Journal of Communication and Religion, 36(1), 92-107.

Miller, C., Ivanov, B., Sims, J. D., Compton, J., Harrison, K. J., Parker, K. A., Parker, J. L., & Averbeck, J. M). (2013). Boosting the potency of resistance: Combining the motivational forces of inoculation and psychological reactance. Human Communication Research, 39, 127-155.

Compton, J., & Ivanov, B. (2012). Untangling threat during inoculation theory–conferred resistance. Communication Reports, 25(1), 1-13.

Ivanov, B., Miller, C. H., Compton, J., Averbeck, J. M., Harrison, K. J., Sims, J. D., Parker, K. A., & Parker, J. L. (2012). Effects of post-inoculation talk on resistance to influence. Journal of Communication, 62, 701-718.

Parker, K. A., Ivanov, B., & Compton, J. (2012). Inoculation’s efficacy with young adults’ risky behaviors: Can inoculation confer cross-protection over related but untreated issues? Health Communication, 27 (3), 223-233.

Compton, J. (2012). Frustration vaccination? Inoculation theory and digital learning. In S. P. Ferris (Ed.), Teaching, learning and the net generation: Concepts and tools for reaching digital learners (pp. 61-73). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Compton, J. (2011). Surveying scholarship on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. In A. Amarasingam (Ed.), The Colbert/Stewart effect: Essays on the real impacts of fake news (pp. 9-33). Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company.

Compton, J., & Pfau, M. (2009). Spreading inoculation: Inoculation, resistance to influence, and word-of-mouth communication. Communication Theory, 19, 9-28.

Compton, J. (2008). More than laughing? Survey of political humor effects research. In Morris, J. S., & Baumgartner, J. C. (Eds.) Laughing matters: Humor and American politics in the media age (pp. 39-66). New York: Routledge.

Compton, J., & Pfau, M. (2008). Inoculating against pro-plagiarism justifications: Rational and affective strategies. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 36(1), 98-119.

Compton, J. (2006). Serious as a heart attack: Health-related content of late night comedy television. Health Communication, 19(2), 143-151.

Compton, J. (2006). Remembering, forgetting, and memorializing the past: Considering forensics from a collective memory theoretical perspective. The Forensic of Pi Kappa Delta, 91, 27-45.

Pfau, M., Compton, J., Parker, K. A., An, C., Wittenberg, E. M., Ferguson, M., Horton, H., & Malyshev, Y. (2006). The conundrum of the timing of counterarguing effects in resistance: Strategies to boost the persistence of counterarguing output. Communication Quarterly, 54(2), 143-156.

Compton, J., & Pfau, M. (2005). Inoculation theory of resistance to influence at maturity: Recent progress in theory development and application and suggestions for future research. Annals of the International Communication Association, 29 (1), 97-145.

Compton, J., & Pfau, M. (2004). Use of inoculation to foster resistance to credit card marketing targeting college students. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 32, 343-364.

Pfau, M., Compton, J., Parker, K. A., Wittenberg, E. M., An, C., Ferguson, M., Horton, H., & Malyshev, Y. (2004). The traditional explanation for resistance versus attitude accessibility: Do they trigger distinct or overlapping processes of resistance? Human Communication Research, 30(3), 329-360.

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Selected Presentations