Fielding Graduate University

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Santa Barbara, California 93105
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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.

Learn More: Media Psychology

At Home with Entertainment and Information Media

PART 1: Social Media and Misinformation During COVID-19: Social media has grown in importance with the increasing popularity of social networking websites in particular (e.g. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram etc.) and social computing in general. During the COVID-19 Pandemic social media platforms experienced increased activity and usage by citizens, and also gave rise to misinformation and conspiracy theories. As people increasingly participate in online communities for social, commercial, and civic interaction, it is important to study these phenomena. This talk will provide insight into a study which examined social media data related to the COVID-19 and 5G conspiracy theory drawing upon social network analysis using NodeXL. PART 2: The Dynamics of Social and Parasocial Relationships During Social Distancing: The COVID-19 pandemic swiftly and drastically altered individuals’ social interactions. Face-to-face contact was largely replaced with video conferencing, and social experiences were bound to activities that could occur within the home. “Social distancing” may have not just influenced social relationships, but also parasocial relationships: perceived connections to celebrities and fictional characters with whom audiences “know” exclusively through screens. A longitudinal panel survey was conducted to investigate how social distancing altered the intensity of perceived connections to real-life friends and media personae, and to examine the variables moderating over-time changes. Participants (N = 144) provided four waves of data, completing online questionnaires every two weeks for eight weeks. Preliminary results reveal that real-life friendship strength remained constant during social distancing, but was strongly correlated to frequency of mediated contact. Parasocial relationship strength grew significantly over time. Differences in friendship maintenance and parasocial growth were found for several personality traits (e.g., extroversion, attachment style, social anxiety) and environmental factors (e.g., living alone, employment status). These results provide causal evidence that technology provides the means to maintain social relationships when face-to-face engagement is limited, but that lack of face-to-face experiences may increase the importance of parasocial relationships without necessarily replacing our social relationships. Panelists: Wasim Ahmed - Social Media and Misinformation During COVID-19. Bradley Bond -The Dynamics of Social and Parasocial Relationships During Social Distancing. Moderator: Regina Tuma
Regina Tuma, PhD

Regina Tuma, PhD

Doctoral Faculty in Media Psychology at Fielding Graduate University
Wasim Ahmed, PhD

Wasim Ahmed, PhD

Lecturer in Digital Business in the Department of Marketing, Operations and Systems at Newcastle University
Bradley J. Bond, PhD

Bradley J. Bond, PhD

Director of the aMP lab and a faculty member in the Communication Studies department at the University of San Diego