Top paper at AEJMC

Our paper “Melfi’s choice” – which analyzes viewer reactions to the moral conundrum faced by psychologist Jennifer Melfi after being sexually assaulted in the television drama “Sopranos” – received a top paper award at the recent AEJMC conference in San Francisco. Congrats to all coauthors for a wonderful job!



2015 has been an exciting year. I was offered a permanent position by the VU, I had several papers and book chapters accepted for conferences or publication, and we started work on the NWO grant “Smart use of smart media in transportation.”

Perhaps most important for me personally, I welcomed my boy into the family on June 11. He looks skeptical but I think he will come around.


Guilty Couch Potato in the news

Our study about ego-depletion and media use has been picked up by several news outlets. Speaking of depletion restoration, this happened while I was on holiday, so apologies this is a bit delayed! Here are links to the relevant articles:

New Junior Fellow!

Thrilled to announce that my MA student, Britt Hoeksema, has been awarded a GSSS Junior Fellowship for six months to turn her excellent MA thesis “Predicting enjoyment, appreciation, interest, and nostalgia from novelty in media content: The case of mashups” into a publication in an international communication journal.

Way to go, Britt!

Back to school! Fall 2013

A new school year has started again, and I am back to the daily routine of teaching, writing, and research. Updated in that order, then:

This fall in September and October I am teaching Essentials of Media Psychology to the incoming group of MA students in the Media Psychology track in Communication at the VU. Students are very keen on learning about and discussing all aspects of media psychology, and I am looking forward to posting the results from some new assignments we have planned this term.S Should be quite fun!

So many special issues and deadlines coming up! Journal of Communication is asking for entertainment-centered pieces on media psychology, and Comm Monographs, Journal of Media Psych, and Comm methods and measures all have calls out for media neuroscience papers in 2014. Not to mention the upcoming deadlines for Etmaal and ICA (annual comm conferences) that hit in October and November, respectively. Plus I got some good news on several papers currently under review. Nothing worth updating about yet, but things are in progress. Moving along, even. Hope to be able to share more soon.

Two great initiatives start this fall:
The Network Institute project “SIRUP: Enhancing Serendipity In Recommendations via User Perceptions” with myself, Tilo Hartmann, Gerard Steen (VU L&C), Lora Aroyo (VU CS), Valentina Maccatrozzo (VU CS), & Paul Groth (VU CS) starts in October. We will be examining TV and film recommendations from three discrete research positions (Comm Science, Computer Science, and Language) to isolate factors enhancing serendipitous positive encounters with online recommendation systems.

My collaboration with Mobi game ( a mobility game designed to decrease CO2 emissions and increase green commuting will continue. Mobi will launch in 6 European countries, starting in October. An overview of some of my (and Christian Burgers’) research on this project can be found here.

I have a few other data collections planned: A follow up to a NCA paper with Matt Grizzard on terror management and group identification in media, some ego-depletion studies following up on our JoC paper with Leonard Reinecke and Tilo Hartmann, and a narrative transportation and visualization study that should be pretty cool (if it works out) with Tim Smits.

I will also be trying to update this blog more regularly, so won’t need to make update posts like these 🙂 But one has to start somewhere! Enjoy your first week back and see you next week.

Repeat remix remediate: Hamburg Summer School Research Center for Media & Communication

August 1 I gave the following talk at the Hamburg Summer School. Although not my specific area of focus, it was really fun to think about the ways psychological knowledge about old versus new content may affect our response to remixed media. I focused mainly on novelty and familiarity since when I was making the talk I was listening to a lot of Girl Talk, and it seemed appropriate. But I could also see how other types of remediated or repeated content would activate these same paths. Strangely there is not a lot of media research on this topic… may have to remedy that 😉

The students were quite enthusiastic despite the talk being rather theory- and data-heavy, and Hamburg was really lovely. Glad I got a chance to think about this and share with others.

Slides are below if you are interested and I’d be happy to chat more via email or in comments if you’d like to continue the conversation!

My ICA schedule

Next week is ICA London! So very excited. Although I have a lot on my schedule, you can catch me  for sure at the following events:

Monday, June 17

9:00-17:00, Berkeley – I will be at “Communication Science – Evolution Biology and Brains, Innovations in Theory and Methods”

I helped organize this along with the brilliant duo of Rene Weber and Emily Falk. I’ll be presenting a short introduction on the topic, a brief history of biological methods in communication science, and introducing some of my current work in the morning presentation. We have sold out the day already! Please check out the list of titles and abstracts as we have some amazing presentations planned and wonderful speakers coming.

Tuesday June 18

16:30-18:00, St. James – Mass Communication Division Business Meeting to see my good friend Abby Prestin receive the Kyong Hoo Dissertation Award (totally deserved, way to go Abby!)

 Wednesday June 19

I am chairing two panels:

11:00 – 12:15, Berkeley – Television/film viewing and social cognition (session begins with Top paper!)

15:30-16:45, Berkeley –  Cognitive processing of media messages

Thursday June 20

17:00-18:15,  St. James – I am presenting a paper with Tilo Hartmann, Mary Beth Oliver, and Louise Mares on “Elevation!” Examining the determinants of uses’ elevation responses to short film clips”

18:30-19:30, Regent’s – The Legacy of Charles K. Atkin

Friday June 21

12:00-13:15, Berkeley – Media and Morality session

Hope to see you there!

Morality and Narrative Persuasion

On Tuesday I gave a talk at Nijmegen University on the role of morality in narrative persuasion. Abstract of the talk and link to slides below!

Stories have been used throughout history to communicate social information. Narratives increase emotional engagement in viewers by transporting them to the world of the story and characters. But how does narrative persuasion interface with existing, deeply held attitudes such as moral beliefs and social attitudes? The prevailing theory is that narratives work best when reinforcing existing attitudes. But entertainment research suggests that the mechanisms underlying narrative engagement (such as identification) may work even in cases when characters display morals counter to those held by the viewer. Therefore my current research attempts to reconcile persuasion and entertainment findings by testing the role of morality in the attention to and retention of persuasive information in media. This talk will overview theoretical arguments regarding the role of morality in persuasion models, as well as demonstrate practical relevance in using moral framing to increase narrative persuasion effectiveness.

Link to slides:

Morality and narrative persuasion