I am the Director of the Media Psychology Research Center. The Media Psychology Research Center (MPRC) is a not-for-profit research center. Our mission is to understand the human experience of media in every aspect of life–work, play, school and everywhere in between. We believe that by understanding how media influences us and vice versa, we can create media that will be a force for positive change in organizations, communities and for individuals. Our goal is put media and technologies to work fostering human potential. For a longer description of media psychology, see “What is Media Psychology?” on this site.
I am also part of the blog community on Psychology Today, writing the blog called “Positively Media.” It is just of the many ways I try to encourage proactive and positive uses and understanding of emerging technologies.
I began my career designing recruiting and alumni communications for higher education institutions. I wanted to learn how to deliver a sense of the experience of education–not just that education was important but to give prospectives a glimpse of that feeling that comes from an expanding sense of opportunity. I recognized that for someone to see themselves at a particular institution, the materials needed to communicate in a way that helped the prospective student construct a story about what their experience could be. This quest led me to pursue a degree in business to understand the theory behind marketing and management. This left me with questions about perception and meaning, and ultimately drove me the do graduate work in psychology with a specialization in media technologies–or media psychology.
Those questions about delivering experience are even more relevant today. We live in an engagement economy. There is no shortage of information–only attention. Communication technologies and media content are growing and changing so quickly that no domain is untouched. There are implications for all fields and industries due to the range of media technologies and their ability to influence and inform.
Media psychology is an emerging field, one that is continually being redefined by the rapid evolution of technology. It is both an applied and research branch of psychology and part of a larger international and interdisciplinary trend in understanding the role of media in the lives of individuals and groups. At MPRC, we strive to bridge the gap between research and practice by applying expertise in research, psychology, and media to evaluate and develop media programs, applications, and curricula. With FableVision and in collaboration with faculty at Harvard University and Oxford University, MPRC is developing a blueprint for the next-generation, independent media lab.
As a media psychologist, I am passionate about helping people and organizations understand the way communication and media technologies change our culture, psychology, and behavior. I believe that by understanding how things work, we can more successfully achieve our own goals. I view all things—from business and media to interpersonal relationships–as interactive systems where change in one part impacts the rest. We are digital citizens. In this new landscape, success as individuals and organizations depends on our ability to recognize and make sense out of the evolving environment and to identify qualitative change. When we see how things are connected, we can visualize and realize new outcomes. When we anticipate how cultural shifts and social trends move through society as a system, we can position ourselves to make change work to our advantage and tap the system’s power to meet our own goals.
A researcher, academic, and entrepreneur, I have provided assessments and guidance to individuals and organizations for over 25 years drawing on her a broad background in media communications and visual design, business strategy, and the psychology of cognition, attitudes, persuasion, and perception. My current research and applied interest is identifying the ways in which technology and connectivity influence individual and group expectations about how the world works, the fundamentals of storytelling and narrative in message and communication interpretation, the development of creativity, and shifting audience psychologies as a result of social media technologies on individual and group communication, attention, expectations, interaction, consumption, and social norms. Recent projects involved the impact of information flows on cooperation and conflict between nations, the influence of fan communities and narratives on individual cognition, and the impact of technological literacy on self-image.
I come from a background of communication design, business management, and media psychology. I am currently Faculty Director of the Media Psychology Program at MSPP (Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology) and adjunct faculty of Leadership Psychology. I am also adjunct faculty at Fielding Graduate University and an instructor and advisory board member for UC Irvine Extension School of Business and Law’s Internet and social media marketing certificate program. I teach Narrative Media, Social Media and Emerging Technologies, Psychology of Visual Design and Messaging, Audience Profiling, and Transmedia Branding and Marketing through Storytelling. I have experience as a manager, researcher, and producer of financial, economic and investment media working in the financial industry. I began my career founding Brown Design Studio specializing in brand and identity communications programs and media production for financial and educational institutions. For work then, I received a Gold Medal Award for Creativity from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and won awards for innovation in Alumni Magazine design.
I received a BA from Pomona College, an MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Business at Claremont Graduate University, and an MA and PhD in Media Psychology from Fielding Graduate University.
Follow me on Twitter as @pamelarutledge or @mediapsychology. You can also find me on LinkedIn.