Media Psychology is a new and emerging field, so the early entrants have the excitement and burden of defining the path. It’s a field with no consensus definition, no clearly-defined career paths, the psychology of human computer interaction pdf no easy answers.
Psychology is key to understanding the implications of technology. Consequently, it seems like it should be pretty straightforward to define media psychology. For some reason, though, it’s not. Both media and psychology have made major contributions to western culture throughout the 20th century. Can you imagine The New Yorker without Freudian references or Jason Bourne without operant conditioning? The goal of media psychologists is to try to answer those questions by combining an understanding of human behavior, cognition, and emotions with an equal understanding of media technologies. Unlike some types of media studies, media psychology is not just concerned with content.
Media psychology looks at the whole system. There is no beginning and no end. It is a continual loop including the technology developer, content producer, content perceptions, and user response. There is no consensus among academicians and practitioners as to the definition or scope of media psychology. The interests of the person doing the defining often drive definitions of a field. In spite of our awareness of media everywhere, when someone mentions media the metaphor we fall back on is often mass media.
It’s a field where you must continually define your terms. The same heuristics impact the popular perception of the field of psychology. There is a wide world of psychology beyond the narrow view of clinical applications that evoke images of Freud and talk therapy. So it isn’t surprising when media psychology is perceived as a psychologist appearing in the media, such as the radio shrink for many years Dr.
Toni Grant or the infamous Dr. Part of the confusion also comes from the cross-disciplinary aspects of media psychology. Why We Need Media Psychology We need media psychology because media technologies are proliferating at the speed of light with new toys and gadgets on the market every day. These technologies are introducing capabilities that are redefining the way we work, play, and communicate. The rapid introduction of technology is unsettling and has triggered a spectrum of reactions, from enthusiasm to distrust. We all come to grips in our own ways with change. As technology changes our lives, we are forced to change how we view the world.
Human beings are not really very good at that. Media psychology is the response to this dilemma. It is a relatively new field and hard to define. Media psychology seeks to understand the interaction among individuals, groups, society, and technology and make sense out of it so we can make decisions and go about our lives in the most positive and productive way possible. Yet, the last 50 years have produced valuable and interesting work in media psychology-related research and study, much of it from outside of psychology. Our collective anxiety over the impact of media on individuals and society, such as the portrayals of violence, consumer manipulation, or information overload has fueled a good bit of the research. Fear of change is a normal human reaction.
Western tradition are of profound distrust. Confronted with a new technology for communication, we find, in both Homer and Plato, the fear that it will introduce dangerous secrecy, an undesirable development of privacy. Today, we worry that IT will usher in an untoward openness of communication, a lack of the privacy we have come to value. From a biological perspective, we know that human brains are hardwired to notice change because the a change in the environment increases the probability of danger. On the Savannah, it was important to notice things that moved: tigers moved and were dangerous and trees were immobile and harmless.
Nothing was more important to survival, yet nothing has such potential to cause problems today. Equilibrium doesn’t really exist, except in our fifth grade science textbooks. But we like to think it does because it makes us so much more comfortable. We like everything to stay put, like the trees.
Humans also have the added gift of selective memory to help maintain cognitive comfort. Media psychology bridges this gap by helping us better understand some of the implications of technological change. Researchers hypothesize, operationalize, and quantify the impact of media. It’s extraordinarily tricky to separate out confounding variables in our complex world. Most of the research that we would consider to be media psychology focuses on mass media and for good reason.