My professional experiences in television broadcasting and the promotion and production of entertainment and news programming (e.g., Hearst Argyle Television, Inc./WLWT-TV, ABC’s The View, 6ABC/WPVI-TV, UPN38/WSBK-TV, and Michigan Radio) initially inspired me to pursue a career in studying the effects of media on audiences.

The Media Effects Research Group (merg) at Penn State University (2005), organized by Dr. Mary Beth Oliver and Dr. S. Shyam Sundar
The Media Effects Research Group (merg) at Penn State University (2005), organized by Dr. Mary Beth Oliver and Dr. S. Shyam Sundar

Specifically, my research interests in media psychology guide my investigations into the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral processes underlying media effects. To understand how individuals are impacted by media messages and the nature of such messages, I employ quantitative methods primarily experiments and surveys. My scholarship consists of three primary areas of focus: 1) role of morality in media, 2) factors underlying media enjoyment and appreciation, and 3) social media use and effects.

When studying the role of morality in media, I have been most intrigued by how portrayals of moral virtue, ambiguity, and vice influence audience involvement and narrative perceptions. My research also seeks to understand how people enjoy and appreciate entertainment and develop psychologically intimate connections with characters through parasocial interactions. Taking into consideration the evolving media climate, I have also conducted studies examining social media use and effects with particular interest in how users perceive the impact of social networking sites on themselves vs. others and how social media use cultivates perceptions of privacy over time.

Most recently, I have merged my interests in entertainment and new media to examine the psychology of social television. I am fascinated by how people engage with television in newer ways to attain meaning and pleasure through media technologies (e.g., social media and second screen experiences) that foster a stronger sense of community. Additionally, I am collaborating on projects that focus on the prosocial effects of media. In particular, I am interested in how media messages and immersive technologies have the potential to motivate people to do social good and facilitate empathic responses.