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Karen E. Dill-Shackleford Ph.D.


Karen Dill-Shackleford, Ph.D., is a social psychologist who studies the social construction of reality via popular culture, particularly how we, the audience, use stories and characters from popular media to inform our sense of identity, our place in the social world, and the deeper meaning we take from these perspectives. She is the Editor of the APA journal Psychology of Popular Media, the editor of Real Characters: The Psychology of Parasocial Relationships with Media Characters (2020), the author of How Fantasy Becomes Reality and the co-author with Cynthia Vinney of Finding Truth in Fiction (2020). Her TEDx talk is called Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter are Real ( She is a faculty member in the Media Psychology doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA.

Dill-Shackleford gave expert testimony before Congress on media violence in 2000 and on misogyny in rap music lyrics in 2007. She co-authored a statement on interactive media violence, which lead to the APA's Resolution on Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media. Her dissertation on video game violence effects has been cited by scholars over 1500 times. Perhaps her most memorable "honor" was having a car named after her in Grand Theft Auto IV - the "Karin Dilettante" is a playful spoof named in homage of the often controversial relationship between the gaming industry and violence researchers.

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