Media Psychology

Media Psychology

Media Psychology

Media Psychology

Synopsis

Media Psychology examines the impact that 21st century media use has on human behavior, from teenage crushes on pop stars to soap fandom in adulthood. It brings together North American communication research with European media research in a variety of disciplines-psychology, sociology, communication and media studies-and in doing so, maps out the territory for media psychology. David Giles argues that psychologists have been guilty of ignoring the influence of the media over the last century, seeing it at best as a minor nuisance that will eventually go away. However, with the increasing prevalence of new electronic forms of mass communication, the media seem to have a greater influence than ever over our daily lives. In this book, Dr. Giles tackles the traditional topics of media psychology-sex, violence, advertising-along with sections on developmental aspects of media influence and the psychology of the audience. He also examines a number of specific media genres-news, sports, soaps, and the increasingly popular audience participation media, such as "reality" and lifestyle" television. In addition, he asks what light psychology can shed on the popularity of these genres and the response of their audiences. Finally, there are chapters on the increasing influence of the Internet and on the representation of psychology and psychologists themselves in the media.

Excerpt

As with so many academic texts, the idea for writing this book stemmed from a specialist final-year option that I developed at Coventry University. Simply put, there was no single text that covered all the material to which I wished to introduce students in the year. Most relevant texts were aimed at media and communication students, and assumed a lot of background knowledge about media history that psychology undergraduates rarely possess. Others failed to go beyond the basic “effects” paradigm, or were largely concerned with cognitive processing of media rather than placing them in a social and cultural context. Others, typically those in the European media studies tradition, erred in the opposite direction, blandly dismissing psychology as at best a relic of behaviourism, at worst as fascist propaganda! The idea for this book, then, was to navigate a gentler course in between the two traditions, arguing that serious study of the psychological influences of media should be rooted in the scientific tradition, but that good science requires the ability to look beyond the laboratory and use appropriate methods of investigation in the “real” world.

I hope that the resulting text is not too much of a fudge, playing the experimentalists off against the social constructionists, trying to balance discourse and cognition, but I really think it is important for psychologists to study the whole picture rather than sinking lazily into the comfy chair of an established paradigm. (I blame the Ph. D. process for this!) I apologise, too, for my Anglocentric perspective throughout the text, particularly in chapter 13 (“Sport”). I know that readers in North America and continental Europe (and many in the United Kingdom) may scoff at my use of examples from the sport of cricket, but I would never have had the time to learn . . .

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