Prof. K. Poels

University of Antwerp
Persuasive technology, Strategic communication


I am a full professor of Strategic Communication and Persuasive Technologies at the Department of Communication Studies, University of Antwerp, Belgium and member of the research group MIOS (Media & ICT in Organizations & Society). Currently I am the Chair of the Department of Communication Studies (2018-2021). I hold a PhD in Social Sciences (Ghent University, 2007) and worked as a post doctoral researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology (2007-2009).

Starting in the field of advertising research and emotions, my research has developed in wider, mainly ICT areas with a focus on online advertising and social media. I study how individuals use and experience ICT and how these insights can be applied by organisations for persuasive communication (advertising, health promotion, corporate communication) and their relations with  consumer/user protection and empowerment. The role of emotions in communication and how they interact with cognitive processes and behavior is still central in my research interest and inspiration. I teach about these topics at both the bachelor and master level. 

Current research:

I am actively involved in research on online (commercial) media environments and ‘complex’ communication:  adolescents’ advertising literacy towards targeted online advertising (PhD Brahim Zarouali, 2018), online ad tailoring: the role of acceptance and privacy concerns (PhD Evert Van den Broeck, 2019), transparency and effectiveness in the implementation of native advertising (PhD Simone Krouwer, 2020), sustainable advertising strategies for online news media (PhD’s Dorien Luyckx and Luc De Cleir, ongoing), food advertising and online communication strategies (PhD’s Katrien Maldoy and Paulien Decorte, ongoing). Another line of research involves persuasive technologies (serious games, reflective interfaces,…) to tackle online transgressive behavior or promote healthy (coping) behavior: a serious game promoting positive bystander involvement in cyberbullying (PhD Sara Bastiaensens, 2016), automatic monitoring of sexual harassment on social media (PhD Kathleen Van Royen, 2017), online personal narratives and interface design targeted at adolescents’ mental wellbeing (PhD Sofie Mariën, ongoing) and persuasive context-based health communication (PhD Michelle Symons, ongoing). 

The Antwerp Social Lab:

I am one of the founders and directors of the Antwerp Social Lab which focuses on psychophysiological and behavioral methods that capture human interactions in interpersonal and mediated contexts.

Service to the field:

From 2013-2018 I was a board member of the Young Academy of Flanders. I am co-founder of DiGRA Flanders. Since February 2020, I serve as the president of NeFCA (Netherlands-Flanders Communication Association):