Media Psychology is a growing sub-specialty in psychology. The purpose of this article is to describe media psychology as I know it and stimulate suggestions, refinements and additions to foster understanding of media psychology and its implications as enhanced media.
Within the American Psychological Association, Media Psychology is represented by Division 46. The application of media psychology enhances technology through the integration of pictures, graphics and sound in forms of communication. Today “E” communications are digital, wired and wireless and function through many devices. In a sense, our present communications technologies can be thought of as human centered and screen deep. Theories in psychology including situational cognition, theories of attention, persuasion, attachment, believability, i.e., the suspension of disbelief, and many more, are studied within this specialty. Historically, the “E” in telecommunications has been thought of as “Electronic” but with increased digital capacity and the dramatic enrichment through pictures, graphics and sound, the “E” must now be thought of as “Enhanced.”
Enhanced Media are fundamental to the future of all media in world telecommunications and Media Studies, which is the new discipline that studies media’s effect upon behavior and society, is an emerging area of importance.
In summary, the future of media psychology is very bright. The convergence of media, technology, communication, art and science is transforming our world. With the proliferation of mobile devices and applications, educators are increasingly challenged to understand and include fresh approaches to help professionals prepare for emerging career opportunities. Media psychology is flourishing as the wave of telemedicine and health services burgeon onto the scene. The increased understanding of media psychology and its power to influence behavior is now being applied to political messages, public policy and all areas of commerce.
Enhanced Media are spawning new positions and there is an accelerating need for capable media programmers, solutions architects and highly-developed practitioners of media psychology. Specific occupational specialties include educators, writers, producers, programmers, engineers, designers, directors, artists, cinematographers, public relations and advertising specialists with the 21st century knowledge and skills to perform their jobs through a state-of-the-art understanding of psychology and its connection media and behavior.
My long experience in this field tells me that the study of media psychology is growing because of an increasing understanding of how specific theories in psychology, applied singularly and in combination, can make programs (messages) better and more compelling. Media psychology subsumes communications technology. Media psychology is an art and science with a future that will include taking us to new levels of artificial intelligence and will help us to better understand the physical and emotional functions of the brain. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies are giving us information faster than we can understand it.
Studies of media related to behavior include growing knowledge about expression, persuasion, sexuality, gender, cognition, learning, mastery, persistence, success, failure and many more areas that may be applied directly in the production of specific programs through the application of media psychology. This knowledge also helps us to demystify and predict audience reaction to programs to a great degree. New academic programs, from MBAs to MFTs and beyond, will benefit from the inclusion of research from the field of media studies and from scholar- practitioners able to increase the critical thinking skills of students as they teach them how to integrate those theories into areas of education, commerce, public policy and government, and health care.
Media psychology is an increasingly important specialty that is central to the field of psychology and thereby, to the work of the American Psychological Association, led by its Media Psychology Division.
The potential of the field of media psychology in the future is best exemplified through pointing out some of the current developments in the field. Examples are:
• Increased inclusion of theories and courses in media psychology in university graduate programs.
• Significant growth and developments in online-based education that spotlight the need to understand principles of media psychology to optimize those programs and make them robust.
• Growing experimentation and progress in programs for telemedicine, telehealth and teletherapy grounded in foundational theories in media psychology.
• Growing recognition of the importance of media psychology in the production of media programs, film and television.
• Growing understanding of how media, psychology and behavior are connected and their importance to almost every form of modern communication.
• Application of theories and methods in media psychology to enhance public understanding of important social and public health needs by fostering a wide understanding of such complex social concerns as obesity, cholesterol, smoking, PTSD, Autism and Aspergers, and other health, family and public policy concerns.
As more sophisticated mobile devices emerge and generational sophistication of people and techonologies advance, jobs in the future will essentially be knowledge based. Media psychology will be central to the effective distribution and reception of that knowledge through various media.
There is a large field of opportunity for media psychologists in all facets of commerce. Since global communications now function from a cloud- based net over the world, understanding media effects will become as important as studying global economics, warming, communications, medicine, politics and entertainment.
Those of us who research and study media effects and media psychology are pioneers, learning and working together as we share the opportunity to help shape a positive future for America and the world.
The purpose of this article is simply to raise awareness that enhanced media and the study of media effects underpin the effectiveness of all communication in our future and to stimulate a conversation to continue to perfect its description and help all to understand media psychology more completely.
Luskin, B. J., Friedland, L. (1998). Division 46 Taskfor Division 46 Taskforce Study of New Career Opportunities in the Emerging Field of Media Psychology ce Study of New Career Opportunities in the Emerging Field of Media Psychology. Los Angeles, American Psychological Association: 101.
Dr. Bernard Luskin is a solutions specialist and CEO of www.LuskinInternational.com. He is President Elect (2014) of theThe Society of Media Psychology and Technology, the Media Psychology Division 46 of the American Psychological Association. He taught in the field of media psychology at UCLA, USC, Clermont Graduate University, California State University, Fielding Graduate University and Touro University. He has been CEO of four colleges and universities and divisions of fortune 500 media and telecommunications companies. He received a 2011 Media Psychology Division Award for Lifetime Contributions to Media Psychology and has been recognized for lifetime contributions to education and media by organizations such as the Irish Government and European Commission. Luskin has been elected President-elect of the Society for Media Psychology and Techology, the Media Psychology Division (46) of the American Psychological Association. He may be reached at: Bernie@LuskinInternational.com.
August 28, 2012