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Media Psychology Programs

Fielding’s Media Psychology programs enable students to enter at their qualification, readiness and goal levels. The PhD in Media Psychology program provides a research-based program that informs practice in an evolving field of study. The Masters of Arts in Media Psychology is 100% online, applies psychological science to media and technology landscapes. The 3-course Certificate in Media Psychology program is also 100% online, and offers emphases in Media Neuroscience and Brand Psychology & Audience Engagement.

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Black Panther

Watching Black Panther with Youth of Color

Authors: Karen E. Dill-Shackleford, Lawrence M. Drake, Carlos Gonzalez-Velasquez, Cynthia Vinney, and Lauren N. Keller

Abstract: The film Black Panther is a popular culture phenomenon, breaking box office records nationally and internationally. The film’s opening box office weekend of $202 million makes it the fifth largest of all time in the US (Khal, 2018). Forbes(Mendelson, 2018, March) reports that, adjusting for inflation, Black Panther is the 12thhighest-grossing film of all time worldwide. Black Pantherset the example that a Hollywood film with a predominantly Black cast can not only be successful, but successful on a high level. The film also offers media psychologists a unique opportunity to measure the potential positive influence of the film on American youth, particularly youth of color.

Past research (Molix& Bettencourt, 2010) demonstrated that, for Blacks/African-Americans, greater ethnic identity is associated with greater well-being and greater empowerment. This is relevant to research on the positive influence of Black media role models on non-White youth because exposure to Black role models in media may increase ethnic identity in non-White youth as well as increasing well-being and empowerment.

In our study we extended the Molixand Bettencourt (2010) findings to our sample. Furthermore, we explored outcomes of watching the film, including well-being and empowerment, taking the race and ethnic identifications of our participants into consideration.

Exposure to Black role models in media may increase ethnic identity in non-White youth as well as increasing well-being and empowerment

In this study, we replicated the finding by Molixand Bettencourt that greater ethnic identity predicts greater well-being and empowerment in a sample of Black/African American participants. Our participants were high scholastically achieving youth, thus extending that finding to another sample.

We also found increases in well-being and empowerment after exposure to the film Black Pantherin our sample of Black/African American youth. Additionally, we found a main effect of the film on the entire sample of youth, which included a variety of races.

Regardless of race, participants highly identified with the hero T’Challa/Black Panther, while modal identification with the anti-hero, Erik Killmonger, was low. For identification with T’Challa, there was no interaction with film exposure, but people who more strongly identified T’Challascored higher on empowerment, but not on well-being. There was no significant main effect of identifying with Erik Killmonger, though there was a marginal interaction with identification with Erik Killmongeron empowerment.

Presented by
Karen E. Dill-Shackleford, PhD <kshack@fielding.edu>

Institution
Media Psychology, School of Psychology
Fielding Graduate University

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1 Comment

  • Nick

    July 17, 2020 7:29 am

    Thanks for this report! In looking at the “moral identification” with T’Challa or Killmonger, I was curious if that scale represented “3” as a neutral point, or as a moderate identification point? I ask because the comparison of the two means could have really dramatic interpretations — especially if you were to compare those means to the scale mid-point (or even to each other) through a one-way t-test, or something similar.

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