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Artificial Intelligence

Examining the Media Psychology of Artificial Intelligence

Media psychology researchers in major universities increasingly focus on AI.

Key points

  • Media psychology is a specialty that explains and fosters advancing AI.
  • Media psychology is essential in managing and explaining AI and social change.
  • Companies are rethinking the media psychology of how AI work is done.
  • ChatGPT is one new step into the advancing future of AI and media psychology.

The media psychology programs in major universities in the U. S. and elsewhere are now tracking and researching many variations and types of artificial intelligence.

Google Images Public Domain
Source: Google Images Public Domain

Media psychology is a specialty subject within psychology that helps explain AI (artificial intelligence.) The media psychology of artificial intelligence requires examining AI programming for its ability to properly recognize, interpret and apply emotions, understand human feelings, and reflect actual human reactions and behaviors. Media psychology also underlies the communication and translation of language, now a popular feature of AI.

Human mental activity is stimulated by its various functions: Attention; perception of shapes, visuals, sound, and color are examples of the many processes artificial intelligence has to mimic or replicate to represent actual human experience.

Artificial intelligence is an engine in the same way that the automobile, airplane, boat, and lawnmower have evolved as vehicles of propulsion. Artificial intelligence can now drive a car, power a robot, and help you get where you are going using GPS. AI can write your speeches, your reports, prepare legal briefs, write books, and more. The psychology of artificial intelligence is a burgeoning field in which science, medicine and health care, psychology, education, entertainment, and technology and commerce converge.

Through media psychology, AI can be designed to wag the tail or wag the dog.

Google Images, Public Domain
Source: Google Images, Public Domain

In human communication, every individual experiences perceptual sensory couplings all the time, as a basis for interpreting communication. In fact, each person’s perspective on the world is, actually, individually unique (Cytowic, 1989). Anesthesia is the phenomenon of no sensation. Synesthesia is the phenomenon of multiple sensations.

In AI, the human senses that are artificially replicated include hearing, seeing, feeling, touching, experiencing, and remembering. We hear with our ears, see with our eyes, and touch with our skin. Perception, including sensory couplings, happens to everyone all the time. Important questions arise regarding AI, including, “How far will it go in replicating human performance?” The degree to which AI will eventually replicate or duplicate human senses is yet to be determined, but the potential is substantial, and growing efforts are being made.

In 2023, some of the newest advances in communications media are exemplified by the arrival of AI applications such as ChatGPT that use natural language processing to create human-like conversational dialogue. ChatGPT {Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is an artificial intelligence chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022 that has captured popular attention.

Google Images, Public Domain
Source: Google Images, Public Domain

In perspective, the internet, streaming, the smartphone, social media, wristwatch devices, laptops, tablets, GPS technology, and many applications we use to manage and massage messages (McLuhan, 1985) are based on early ChatGPT-type forms of artificial intelligence.

In explaining the media psychology of AI, we can use Luskin’s 3-S model:

(1) Synesthesia: the response resulting from a union of the senses

(2) Semiotics: the development, identification, use, coupling, and integration of symbols for purposes of communication, language, and understanding

(3) Semantics: the use and understanding of words and language.

Media psychology combines the many theories in psychology applied and interpreted through the 3-S model as a key for increased understanding (Luskin, 2019). There is a substantial and increasing body of literature on synesthesia, semantics, semiotics, perception, and understanding that is useful in media psychology and helps explain AI.

Knowledge is rapidly advancing because of functional magnetic resonance imaging. (fMRI) enables the monitoring, measurement, and understanding of the relationship between perception, the whole brain, and behavior. We are discovering exciting new knowledge paradigms, and many of the paradigms are now converging.

Artificial intelligence applications increasingly embrace graphics, musical sounds, personalities, odors, pain, touch, taste, smell, temperature, hearing, language, and all of their many combinations. AI applications can be defined as either positive or negative depending on the situation, point of view, and intention. The American Psychological Association’s Media Psychology Division 46 has identified artificial intelligence as a priority focus. In addition, the media psychology, computer science, and communications programs at major universities in the U.S. and elsewhere are now tracking and researching the many variations and types of artificial intelligence.

AI is increasingly capturing worldwide attention, sparking major investment and waves of creativity. More research and entrepreneurship are needed, and the future trend is clear. Media psychology will help explain the profound nature and extraordinary power of the AI evolution.

We are now entering uncharted territory and media psychology is a navigator. Questions to consider are, “How far will artificial intelligence advance in manufacturing, healthcare, public policy and politics, education, entertainment, science, technology, and global commerce? What will be the extent of the impact?


Luskin Learning Psychology Series No. 68

Special Thanks: Toni Luskin, Ph.D., for editorial and technical asistance.

Cytowic, R.E. (1989). Synesthesia (1st ed. Vol. 1). Boston: MIT Press.

McLuhan, M. (1985). The Medium Is the Massage (5th ed. ed.). Toronto: Ginko Press Inc.

Luskin, B.J. (2019). Synesthesia, Semiotics, Semantics and How We Learn. [Media Psychology]. Psychology Today, 46 (Luskin Learning Psychology).

Hayakawa, S.I. (1970). Dimensions of Meaning. Macmillan Pub. Co. London, UK: Penguin Books.

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