3107 Derby Hall
154 North Oval Mall
Research & Background
I'm a media psychologist and my research focuses on the intersection of media and social life: why people spend so much time with entertainment, and what social functions it fulfills in their lives and relationships. I currently work on experiments and studies to understand (1) how people navigate media as a coping tool when facing social and environmental stressors, and (2) how media influences our social relationships and identities and, conversely, how our relationships and identities impact our media use.
Most of this work gets at a narrative experience on psychological and biological levels. What makes tv, movies or other entertainment feel real and why do we turn to these outlets on a daily basis? Why do we care about fictional characters and events enough to revisit them time and again, or talk about them with friends? In other words, what motivates narrative entertainment processing and how is it so intrinsically rewarding? (And in the long run, how can understanding how stories work help us design better ones to meet real-world goals?)
I have degrees in both engineering (University of Michigan) and cultural studies (University of Edinburgh), but most of my research is quantitative social science. Before my Ph.D, I ran an international cultural consultancy firm focused on media, arts and culture, where I collaborated with organizations such as the BBC, UNESCO City of Literature Trust, ESRC Genomics Forum and the Australian Council for the Arts.