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Research Strengths

Media Psychology

Media Psychology is the study of how media (mass, digital, and social) affect individuals’ thinking, emotions, and behaviors and how these, in turn, shape the experiences individuals have with the mass media and emerging media. It blends theory and research in Communication Studies and social, cognitive, and developmental psychology.

Sub-specializations in Media Psychology

  • Health and the Media: analyzes the role of the media in promoting or undermining health-related attitudes and behaviors. These include studying how media use may directly influence health (e.g., sleep, eating) and which kinds of health messages and campaigns are most persuasive and effective.

  • Media Violence and Aggressive Behavior: studies both the short-term and long terms effects of exposure to violent media fare in films, on television and in video games and other new media.

  • Children, Adolescents and the Media: analyzes children, adolescents, and emerging adults’ media use and the extent to which these uses promote or undermine health and well-being.

  • Media and the Environment: examines how the media represent environmental problems and challenges, and the effects of those representations on public attitudes.

  • Media and Intergroup relations: examines how the media influence intergroup conflict between majority and minority groups, the effects of media on stereotypes/prejudice/discrimination/public policies towards outgroups, the effects of media on minorities’ identities, civic engagement, and attitudes towards the majority group.

Critical Media Studies

Critical Media Studies scholars employ a variety of approaches to analyzing media content, industry practices, media regulation, trans-national flows of media and information, and the impact of the media and communication technologies on culture and society.

Researchers in this area explore questions about the connections among media as content producers and institutions and their cultures of production and consumption, often attending to the role of media in the operation of power. They answer these questions using a range of theoretical perspectives and research methods including: textual and discourse analysis, archival research, close analysis of industry records, trade press, and government documents; and ethnographic methods including participant-observation, in-depth interviews, and focus groups.

Global and Comparative Media

Global and Comparative Media scholars examine media and communication technologies, industries, and cultures in an international, comparative, and historical fashion.

Faculty in this area conduct research and teach courses that address broadcasting, film, television, and digital media across the US, Middle East and North Africa, South Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Political Communication

Political Communication is the study of the relationships between mass media, social media, communications technology and politics. It focuses on a wide range of issues, including the impact of media and communications technology on individuals’ political preferences; the ways in which public policy affects the content and availability of information; the nature and impact of election campaigns and political advertising; and the role that media play in enhancing, or impeding, political participation and representation.

Political communications scholars at Michigan are comparative in scope, and rely on a broad range of social-scientific methods. Researchers conduct lab experiments, surveys, large-scale content analyses and big-data social media analytics around the world.

Faculty have been particularly invested in research on mobile technology and political participation, on the role media play in political knowledge and misperceptions, and on the ways in which mass, digital and social media affect both attitudes and behavior on a broad spectrum of political issues, including voting, democratization, immigration, racism, science, the environment, redistribution, and the national economy.

Media, Technology, and Society

Mediated information and communication technologies, and the conditions shaping their design, deployment, and adoption transform modern communities, cultures, and society form the focus for this area of study.

This group of faculty explore how ‘new’ media communication and information technologies historically, and presently, afford and constrain the conduct of culture, politics, and social life. Research and instruction in this cluster of scholarship explores how media, particularly new digital media and associated communication and social infrastructures, shape the way we build shared culture, form social networks, exchange political information, and, in turn, know and govern ourselves.