B.A., Michigan State University
M.A., Michigan State University
Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
Narrative processing and narrative influence
Effects of entertainment media on risky health behaviors
My research focuses on understanding how and why entertainment media influence individuals. My primary line of research examines how entertainment narratives influence viewers' attitudes and behaviors regarding health and social issues. For example, I have examined how viewers respond to television storylines about topics such as teen pregnancy, safer sex, sexually transmitted infections, organ donation, and environmental issues. At the most basic level, my research explores how people are influenced by messages about these and other serious topics when they are embedded in a television narrative. Much of my research has focused on young people and developmental differences in media effects. For instance, I have conducted several studies on children’s emotional reactions to news and entertainment programming as well as age-related differences in parents’ use of coping strategies to alleviate their child’s TV news induced fears.
My teaching interests are very closely aligned with my research. I enjoy teaching classes on media effects, children and media, research methods, and others. In particular, I appreciate the fresh perspective that students often bring to the content. Overall, my approach to teaching focuses on helping students understand communication concepts, research, and theories in a way that is relevant to their everyday lives and careers.