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Media Psychology Blog

Posted: March 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Critical thinking across multiple modalities


Transmedia literacy implies engaging critically in nonlinear narratives of all kinds, from entertainment and branding to journalism.  We build mental models unconsciously, to create a holistic understanding.  In entertainment, we revel in narratives of choice–we can actively pursue and evaluate content based on enjoyment, relevance, and identity.  Many other narratives are more subtle, news, commercial and social stories can be equally immersive and persuasive without our awareness.  Transmedia literacy emphasizes the need for mindful attention to the narrative construction that create larger ideaworlds in our off and online environments.

Americans are doing the most mundane everyday task online, particularly on their smartphones, and this growing habit of avoiding the spoken word has become the new luxury in our lives.


Headlines like this prime the reader to think of technology as replacing valuable interpersonal connections.  It also triggers an implicit assumption that how we used to do something–our current schema– is somehow the ‘right’ way or morally superior.  If we equate this to electric saws versus manual saws, it seems ridiculous. We know there are times when an electric saw is overkill for the task at hand.  We don’t give people enough credit to know the difference between using technology to avoid standing in line to deposit a check or waiting on hold to make a dinner reservation and talking to their best friend.  Instead of focusing on fears of lost interpersonal relationships, we should focus on setting goals and making intentional choices how to use our recaptured time–whether it’s to improve our productivity at work or to squeak out a little time for mindfulness meditation.  The danger is, as it has always been, procrastination.  I don’t need Facebook to procrastinate.  I have a zillion other tools that have stood me in good stead for years.  Now I just have to reorganize my bookshelf before I finish writing that chapter….

Startup brand Slate Cosmetics looks to overcome its lack of store presence with virtual sampling.


Makes perfect sense that companies should focus on the actual user of the product.  (This isn’t about “selfies” — jeez.)  As someone who teaches online in a distributed program, I see this as a move toward empowering a broader market and letting consumers control their experience.  Think Self-Determination Theory – autonomy and mastery (I expect they will figure out how to include psychological relatedness as they roll out the social media features.)

Email isn’t for complex ideas or strong feelings, says Sherry Turkle, director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self


It’s your reptilian brain that sends those emotional emails where your only defense was “I wasn’t thinking.”  Yes you were, but with your instinctive emotional brain not the rational one.  Repair means engaging your neocortex– the thoughtful and logical part of the brain that can think through the implications and  actively empathize with the other person’s situation.  Groveling is the equivalent of your dog exposing his underbelly to show you his vulnerability after behaving badly.  When you ‘attack’ someone, you have triggered an instinctive response in them–fight or flight.  Groveling diffuses that response by sending the message in instinct-based brain language.  #neuroleadership

Article By Jonathan Tavss How exciting was it when the Dodgers were so hot at the end of the season to head into the MLB Post Season? For many in Los Angeles, just the thought that they will actual…


In a great blog, Jonathan Tavss highlights the importance of giving fans the opportunity to form emotional attachments with players (what psychologists would call a parasocial relationship).  Fans have team loyalty, sure, but as Jonathan points out, Dodgers missed opportunities to deliver the real glue that sticks fans to a team by building a web of emotional attachment.  Knowing the stories gives us a reason to care.

It was 4 p.m. on a Sunday and I had just arrived in Las Vegas.


@TuxedoLasVegas Tuxedo Junction has been in LV much longer than @Zappos but this story is exactly what Hsieh calls delivering WOW thru service.  No double standard here – owner Mikka Moon sets the example for her employees by delivering on the front line.   



Recent prototype headsets offer great promise for narrative experience but can they also support the social side of entertainment?  Most entertainment–from gaming to films–is a shared experience physically as well as across social media.

When Illinois news anchor Dave Benton made a major on-air announcement recently, it was reportage at its most personal: Benton, 51, revealed that his doctors had told him that he has just four to six months left to live — the latest, most heartbreaking chapter in what has been an ongoing report about his yearlong battle with brain cancer. Benton, who has been with Champaign’s WCIA-3 news team for almost nine years, completed radiation treatment in February, but a new tumor grew back.  “We’ve got some serious stuff to discuss, and we are an open book, and we wanted to let you guys in on something that we’ve known for a while,” Benton’s co-anchor Jennifer Roscoe told viewers at the end of their nightly newscast on Thursday. Related: Layoff Letter to Woman With Cancer Causes Outcry “Basically my cancer is back and it’s too big for surgery and radiation,” Benton said, his voice shaky in an attempt to contain his emotion. “Doctors have told me that I may have four to six months to live.” He added that he’ll be trying a new antibody chemotherapy treatment to help slow the tumor’s growth.


Media can provide a powerful platform for modeling course in the face of adversity.  Dave Benton and other like him help people overcome the stigma of illness and encourage a sense of empowerment rather than give in to victimhood.  Positive emotions can play a significant part in the recovery and the trajectory of illness and, in cases like these, who is to say that Benton is destined to the course doctors predict given the amount of positive energy, love and prayers coming his way.


The emergence of Netflix & Amazon Prime over web series argues that the value proposition for consumers is on control first–the  ‘delivery on demand’ rather than the raw, quirkiness of indy productions.  Now the face-off moves to content.  But can high budget productions keep up with demand for content?  Raises the bar for web series, certainly, and eliminates the novelty effect for early adopters, but good content is good content.  I see adaptation not demise.