What Is Media Psychology?
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Introductory overview to the field of media psychology. Includes brief discussion of theory and some applications.

Introductory overview to the field of media psychology. Includes brief discussion of theory and some applications.

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  • Title Slide: What is Media Psychology? Transcript for PowerPoint slides Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA January 10, 2010
  • The last half century has seen an explosion of new media that has transformed our society > Interest in media psychology is on the rise in response to the explosion of new media we have witnessed in the last half century. This explosion has transformed our society, increased productivity and opportunity, overcome the constraints of geography and changed the way we relate to media, and to each other.
  • How do we understand human experience in this new world? >With all the new forms of communications technology, we need to be smarter about what it all means. Traditionally, many people are afraid of new things. Socrates worried that people would no longer remember anything if they wrote it down instead of memorized it. Thoreau felt the telegraph would destroy the need for in-depth conversation. My grandmother thought no one would come visit her in person once the telephone was installed. But these are tools. Whether they are good or bad is entirely a function of how we use them.
  • Biological Imperative: Born to Communicate >That’s where media psychology comes in. In many respects, media psychology is an old field. From early man to present, people have invented ways to communicate and connect. When we attempt to understand this intersection between humans and mediated communications, we are applying media psychology. In the last half-century, we’ve seen warp speed evolution in media and communications technologies. These new technologies are transforming our lives every bit as profoundly as Guttenberg’s printing press. These changes have created a new awareness across society that we need to understand the psychology of human experience with media.
  • How to we define media psychology? >How hard is it to define media psychology? Harder than you'd think. While both media and psychology have been around for a long time, how we define each of these words matters. Otherwise, the definition becomes defined by popular heuristics, or “rules of thumb.” Rules of thumb are handy, but not always accurate. For example, the word "Media" is very often taken to mean "mass media." This leads many people to assume that media psychology focuses on the effects of content of mass media content, such as looking at violence or stereotypes. The term “psychology” is frequently associated with the clinical application of psychology. If someone tells you they are a psychologist, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Freud? Do you worry that they’ll “analyze” you? Consequently, it's common for people’s initial concept of media psychology to be some sort of clinical psychology based in mass media. For example, psychologists who appear in the media, either as experts or hosts.
  • How to we define media psychology? We all know, when we stop to think about it, though, that it’s much more complicated. Media includes any kind of mediated communications, from Facebook pages to visual symbols. Psychology is a very broad field that seeks to understand human behavior. Behavior is the manifestation of a mix of cognition, emotion, and biology. The important things to remember are that psychology is the study of human behavior, emotions, and cognitions Media includes all forms of mediated communications and media technologies Media psychology practitioners and scholars come from many fields The field is continually changing in response to emerging technologies
  • Why Do We Define Media Psychology? A definition is important because it does several things: It sets the compass and standards of a field, It frames the work of its practitioners, It creates an intellectual base camp for exchange and integration, and It informs the public. The tricky thing about media psychology is that while we are looking for strains of commonality, we have to be mindful to look forward, not backward, in a field that changes as rapidly as media psychology.
  • Psychological Perspectives >Like the proverb about the blind men and the elephant, psychology has different perspectives that influence the way psychologists approach things. This approach will influence how they conceptualize and approach research questions and conclusions.
  • Theoretical Orientations >This list is by no means complete, but these are some of the main areas of thought that are particularly relevant to media psychology.   Cognitive Psychology is the science of cognition; information processing and how we make sense of the world There are variations in the theories, but they all involve how meaning is created and look at the range of influences that contribute to perceptions, emotions, and behavior Humanistic Psychologies looks at human behavior from an experiential way, examining the qualitative processes within the individual. A variation of this, narrative psychology, for example, looks at the way humans use stories to make meaning of their lives. Evolutionary, biological, neuropsychological looks at the structural and physical aspects that influence behavior. Social Psychology focuses on what happens when you put individuals together – a very interesting area with the advent of social media technologies Developmental psychology examines the stages of development of humans: cognitively, physically, and socially
  • Cognitive Revolution >Cognitive revolution occurred from the late 1950s to the 1970s. It was a reaction to the behaviorist “black box” movement of folks like Skinner that denied the importance of any internal processes in human behavior. Although initially the focus began with a computer processing metaphor, cognitive psychology is a very broad field. Cognitive scientists are not only concerned with intellectual processes such as memory, intelligence, attention, judgment, perception, language, and problem solving. They also deal with the way people understand themselves and the world around them. Cognitive psychologists use a variety of terms to describe different nuances in how we view the world: these include schemas, mental models, core beliefs, and cognitive maps. Howard Gardner is a highly influential cognitive scientist, who proposed the idea that individuals have different intellectual strengths or intelligences that can be categorized. As you can image, there is wide applicability for media psychologists in the development and assessment of media technologies. For example: Usability Developmental appropriateness of technology and content Information comprehension Learning styles and development of educational materials and curriculums   Among the theorists in this area are: Piaget, Wundt, Chomsky, Broadbent, and Gardner
  • Social Learning Theory   >Social learning theory focuses on the learning that occurs within a social context. It considers that people learn from one another, including such concepts as observational learning, imitation, and modeling. Albert Bandura is considered the leading proponent of this theory. Some of the general principles of social learning theory are: 1. People can learn by observing what others do and the results of their actions 2. Learning can happen without a change in behavior 3. Cognition is important to learning. Our expectations of what might happen in the future have a big effect on our behavior. 4. Social learning theory links behaviorist learning theories and cognitive learning theories. Bandura list four necessary conditions for someone to successfully model the behavior of someone else: 1. The person must pay attention to the model. 2. They must be able to remember the behavior and results that they saw. 3. The person has to be able to repeat the behavior. 4. And finally, the person has to be motivated to repeat the behavior; they must want to demonstrate what they have learned. It’s important to remember, when making assumptions about the impact of social modeling particularly from media, that people are very different in what and how they pay attention, how and how well they remember things, their ability to replicate behaviors, and what motivates them to learn at all. Another important feature of Bandura’s theory was the concept of self efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief in your own ability or competence to so something. People are much more likely to do things if they believe they will be successful. This is an important concept in Positive Psychology and in the drive toward teaching media literacy. Albert Bandura’s social learning theory is the basis for much of the mass media effects research, particularly those concerning violence, and emulation of behaviors such as gender and racial stereotypes or standards of beauty. This picture here is from a very famous experiment conducted by Bandura in the 1960’s trying to understand how children are influenced by modeled behaviors, in this case mimicking hitting the blow-up toy, known as Bobo. Bandura’s early work is cited in a lot of the work on media effects. Bandura’s thinking, however, has evolved to include the role of cognition and environment in the learning process.
  • Social Cognitive Theory >Social cognition is based in social psychology. Social psychology is the study of people in social contexts and how our thoughts, feelings, and actions are influenced by what we see and think of those around us. It looks at both what happens within an individual as well as between individuals. Several researchers have migrated to this perspective, such as Albert Bandura and Jerome Bruner. Social cognitive theory links social context with cognitive behavior. Some important theories in media psychology are Festinger's cognitive-dissonance theory, Bem's self-perception theory, and Weiner's attribution theory which attempt to desribe ways in which social context can influence the learning process. Social cognitive theory can be explained using Bandura’s model of reciprocal determinism. This says that we function as part of a system. Our behavior is both influenced by and influences our individual differences and our environment.
  • Social Constructionism >Social constructionism shifts the emphasis in social cognitive theory toward the social dimension. Social constructionism is concerned with how people construct their beliefs about the world from their interactions with people, environments, and culture   According to Vygotsky, learning occurs best when we have people that provide “scaffolding” to help learners reach the next level of understanding and growth. This has been a very influential theory in education.   Social constructionism is the basis of much research on identity development. Major theorists include Vygotsky, Gergen, and Mead
  • Narrative >Narrative psychology is a qualitative and humanistic approach to cognitive processes. The focus is on the storied nature of life and how people create meaning and identity through the development and sharing of narratives.   Narrative psychology explains how we use stories to make sense out of our lives and to guide our behaviors. For example, McAdams work describes how we tell our life stories in the context of literary genres, as either predominantly romances, comedies, ironies, or tragedies.   Because constructing a narrative is inextricably interwoven with the environment, narrative psychology can be viewed as a qualitative extension of social constructionism.   Major theorists include McAdams, Josselson, Polkinghorne, Gergen, and Bruner   Narrative psychology is the basis for qualitative research on identity, brand development, persuasive communications, and individual development   It has many applications, including Clinical and therapeutic narrative, marketing, group behavior/team building, entertainment media, and gaming
  • Positive Psychology >Positive psychology began in response to the medical model approach that dominated the field of psychology. It draws from the cognitive and social psychological theories and researchers, but the focus is on finding out how to promote more of the positive aspects in life through empirical study of positive emotions, traits, and institutions rather than on identifying the pathology.   The Positive Psychology Center at UPenn defines Positive Psychology as “the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. “   Positive Psychology has three central objectives. To identify and promote: Positive emotions, such as contentment, hope and happiness Positive individual traits, such as courage, capacity for love and work, self-control, resilience, and creativity, and Positive institutions that promote better communities with features such as justice, leadership, work ethic, and parenting.   The application of positive psychology is very relevant to development of all kinds of prosocial media from public service messaging to learning technologies   Current researchers in positive psychology include Seligman, Diener, Csikszentmihalyi, Fredrickson, and Bandura,
  • Psychoanalytic Theory >Psychoanalytic theory focuses is on conscious and unconscious emotional and cognitive process.   The founder of psychoanalytic theory was Sigmund Freud and his work, while initially controversial and shocking, has had wide-ranging influence on western culture from psychology to art.   Many psychoanalytic theorists have adapted Freud’s theories in their own work. These include Adler, Erikson, Jung, Fromm, Horney, Rank, Klein, and Sullivan. These theorists believe that a healthy human personality was a combination of understanding the workings of the human unconscious combined with that of the conscious mind.   These theories contribute to an understanding of some of the media effects tradition, uses and gratifications theories, and parasocial relationships.
  • Humanistic >Humanistic psychology is sometimes known as “The Third Force” in psychology because it emerged in reaction to both behaviorism (“The First Force”) and psychoanalysis (“The Second Force). Humanistic psychology focuses on the experiential and uniquely human dimension of psychology.   With roots in existentialist thought, a group of psychologists formed in the late 1950s who were interested in promoting a more holistic vision of psychology that addressed issues, such as the self, self-actualization, hope, love, creativity, individuality, and meaning. In many ways, humanistic psychology is a precursor to positive psychology.   Maslow was an influential and well-known theorist due to his “Hierarchy of Needs” model, described a conceptualization of human motivations, attitudes and needs. This view sees individuals as selecting mass media experiences that satisfy cognitive, social, and emotional needs.   Other major theorists include Rogers, Jung, Ellis, May, and Frankl.
  • Developmental Psychology >Developmental psychology draws on multiple theories and orientations, but focuses on the process of growth and development through stages, transitions, relational skills, or life tasks   Many lifespan theorists draw from psychoanalytic theory and identified stages that must be successfully mastered for healthy development.   Other lifespan or developmental theorists focus on cognitive and social development, particularly in childhood. Developmental psychology is used to assess what types and uses of media may be appropriate for infants, children, and adolescents.   Theorists include: Erikson, Piaget, Bowlby, Ainsworth and Baltes
  • Neuropsychology and Evolutionary Psychology   >Neuropsychology and biology contribute much to our understanding of the causes and explanations for behaviors and emotions Neuropsychology reveals what is happening in the brain when we interact with particular media. Evidence from research on the neurobiology of social bonding and attachment demonstrates that new biological mechanisms appear to support functional behavioral changes. Evolutionary psychologists look at the interplay of multiple factors—media, people, social organizations, and institutions. They argue that natural selection acts to organize these relationships and that they are reciprocally influential. From this perspective, the factors that coordinate the interaction between media and the audience are critical to the development process. Both the media producer and the consumer are mutually affected. This forms feedback loops that create reciprocal change throughout their evolution. Biological and developmental bases have implications for research on attachment style, relational style, attention, fear, persuasion, and addiction as they relate to media use and influence
  • What Does a Media Psychologist Do? The short answer is: Whatever they want. Media psychology, as a new field, doesn’t offer up any quick and easy answers. Media psychology, like many other fields, requires some focus and specialization within areas of expertise. Unlike a degree that is more vocationally oriented, such as education and teaching, there is not obvious immediate next step (like get a credential and teach elementary school.) Some people start with their current or hoped-for career and then target their approach to the degree in a way that supports their needs. Someone who works with teens, for example, may be looking for ways to effectively communicate with or educate teens and therefore choose to focus on topics such as issues of developmental psychology, such as cognition, identity development, how teens are using technology, and how physical perceptions impact motivation and emotion. A designer or producer of media may focus on things such as perceptions, cognition, and how those are supported and challenged in different applications such as large screen/small screen. An educator may choose to focus on how different media applications interact with learning styles, multiple intelligences, engagement, self-efficacy, and individual strengths. Other people start with a passion for an area and then seek a job that requires that knowledge set. For example, if you are skilled in using media to deliver factual information, there are roles in education (teaching teachers as well as teaching students), business communications (media-based training internally as well as educating clients/customers), and healthcare (developing and promoting health education through media). Media psychology is essential to marketing and public relations (for profit as well as nonprofit), software, particularly with the advent of social media technologies. The more media technologies emerge and are integrated into daily life in a myriad of ways, the more necessary it will be to apply media psychology.
  • A field whose time has come >Communications technologies, Web 2.0, and social media have left no industry, career, country, or process untouched.   Media psychology is in a unique position to understand how people interact with media at multiple levels, as producers, as consumers, and within varied contexts and cultures.   Media psychology provides the tools to understand and promote media technologies that allow people to thrive, communities to come together, and nations to communicate.
  • > Thank you for joining me on this introduction to the new and emerging field of media psychology. Media forms and information technologies interact with nearly every aspect of our lives. Media psychology strives to unite an understanding of human behavior, cognition, emotion, and neuroscience with an understanding of media systems. Media psychology is an exciting field because it studies the changing relationships of individuals and groups with emerging technologies. This explosion of media touches us all without regard to geography, culture, or socioeconomics status. We may not all be equally enthusiastic about the proliferation of communication technologies, but we all agree that it is important to understand how they interact with our lives. I welcome any feedback or questions. Thanks for joining me.
  • Resources American Psychoanalytic Association http://www.apsa.org/ Association for Humanistic Psychology http://www.ahpweb.org/index.html International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology http://www.iacep-coged.org/ Positive Psychology Center at UPenn http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/   Anderson, J. R. (1995). Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications . New York: W. H. Freeman and Company. Benjafield, J. G. (2005). History of Psychology . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of Mind . New York: Basic Books. Giles, D. C. (2003). Media Psychology . Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Harris, R. J. (2004). A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication (4th ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (Eds.). (2005). Handbook of Positive Psychology . Oxford: Oxford University Press.    

What Is Media Psychology? Presentation Transcript

  • 1. What is Media Psychology? Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA January 2010
  • 2. The last half century has seen an explosion of new media that has transformed our society
  • 3. How do we understand human experience in this new world? Image generated using http://www.wordle.net/.
  • 4. Biological Imperative: Born to Communicate
    • From early man to present, people have invented ways to communicate and connect
  • 5. Media + psychology = ? +
  • 6. How Do We Define Media Psychology?
    • Psychology is the study of human behavior, emotions, and cognitions
    • Media includes all forms of mediated communications
    • Practitioners and scholars across many fields
    • Continually changing in response to emerging technologies
  • 7. Why Do We Define Media Psychology?
    • A Definition
    • Sets the compass and standards of a field
    • Frames the work of its practitioners
    • Creates an intellectual basis for exchange and integration
    • Informs the public
  • 8. Psychological Perspectives
  • 9. Theoretical Orientations
    • Cognitive
    • Humanistic
    • Biological/Neuropsychological
    • Social
    • Developmental
    • Positive
  • 10. Cognitive Psychology
    • Cognitive Revolution
        • Reaction to Behaviorism
        • Perception, Language, Attention, Memory, Problem Solving, Decision Making and Judgment, Intelligence
    • Among the theorists, Piaget, Wundt, Chomsky, Broadbent, Gardner
    • Applicability for media psychologists includes Usability, Developmental appropriateness of technology and content, Information comprehension, and educational media based on Learning styles
  • 11. Social Learning Theory
    • Learning in a social context
    • People can learn by observing from others
    • Behaviorist perspective vs. Cognitive perspective
      • Learning can occur without a change in behavior
    • Basis for research on violence, stereotype emulation, media framing
  • 12. Social Cognitive Theory
    • Roots in social psychology
    • Variety of researchers have moved to this perspective from other schools of thought
      • Bandura
      • Bruner
      • Allport
      • Festinger
    • Reciprocal Determinism
  • 13. Social Constructionism
    • Shifts emphasis to social dimension
    • People construct beliefs about the world from their interactions with other people, environments, and culture
    • Learning is most successful when people provide “scaffolding” to help learners reach the next level
    • Basis for most research on identity development, multiple intelligences
    • Major theorists: Vygotsky, Gergen, and Mead
  • 14. Narrative
    • A qualitative and humanistic approach to cognitive processes focusing on the” storied nature of life”
    • People create meaning and identity through the development and sharing of narratives
    • Major theorists: McAdams, Josselson, Polkinghorne, Bruner
    • Basis for research on identity, brand development, persuasive communications, individual development
    • Applications: clinical/therapeutic narrative, marketing, group behavior/team building, entertainment media, gaming
  • 15. Positive Psychology
    • Focus is on the empirical study of
      • Positive emotions
      • Strengths–based traits
      • Healthy institutions and systems
    • Major theorists: Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi, Deiner
    • Relevant to development of prosocial media including public service messaging, learning technologies, gaming, usability
  • 16. Psychoanalytic Theory
    • Focus is on understanding conscious and unconscious processes
    • Developed by Sigmund Freud
    • Major Theorists: Adler, Erikson, Jung, Fromm, Rank, Klein, Sullivan
    • Basis for understanding personality and elements of media effects tradition, uses and gratifications, parasocial relationships
  • 17. Humanistic Psychology
    • Holistic view that focus is on the human context for motivations, attitudes and needs
    • Major theorists: Rogers, Fromm, Maslow, Sullivan
    • People select media experiences that satisfy cognitive, social and emotional needs
  • 18. Developmental Psychology
    • Maturation across the lifespan where development progresses through stages, transitions, relational skills, or life tasks
    • Many draw from psychoanalytic theory and identified stages that must be successfully mastered for healthy development
    • Theorists include: Erikson, Piaget, Bowlby, Ainsworth
  • 19. Neuropsychology & Evolutionary Psychology
    • Biological and evolutionary explanations for behaviors and emotions
    • Implications for research on attachment style, relational style, attention, fear, persuasion, addiction as related to media use and influence
  • 20. What Does a Media Psychologist Do?
    • Many specializations combine the knowledge of psychology and media applications
    • As media technologies evolve, the demand for media psychology will grow
      • Designers and producers of media for all distribution channels, from entertainment to corporate training
      • Assessment and evaluation of technology, interfaces, usability, and content
      • Integrating technology into education, media literacy education
  • 21. Media Psychology is the Future
    • Media revolution leaves no industry, career, country, or process untouched
    • Tools to promote positive media technologies and use to help:
      • People thrive
      • Communities to come together
      • Nations to communicate
  • 22. Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA [email_address] Director, Media Psychology Research Center Adjunct Faculty, Fielding Graduate University School of Psychology, Media Psychology Program Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mediapsychology Blog: http://www.mediapsychologyblog.com Image constructed at http://www.wordle.net
  • 23. Resources
    • American Psychoanalytic Association http://www.apsa.org/
    • Association for Humanistic Psychology http://www.ahpweb.org/index.html
    • International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology http://www.iacep-coged.org/
    • Positive Psychology Center at UPenn http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu/
    •  
    • Anderson, J. R. (1995). Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications . New York: W. H. Freeman and Company.
    • Benjafield, J. G. (2005). History of Psychology . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of Mind . New York: Basic Books.
    • Giles, D. C. (2003). Media Psychology . Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    • Harris, R. J. (2004). A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication (4th ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    • Snyder, C. R., & Lopez, S. J. (Eds.). (2005). Handbook of Positive Psychology . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA
    • [email_address]
    • Director, Media Psychology Research Center
    • Adjunct Faculty, Fielding Graduate University
    • School of Psychology, Media Psychology Program
    • Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mediapsychology
    • Blog: http://www.mediapsychologyblog.com
    • Second Life: Media Writer