Fielding Graduate University

2020 De la Vina Street
Santa Barbara, California 93105
Admissions: 805-898-4026

Washington DC Offices
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20003

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

Karen Shackleford, PhD

Virtual Media Psychology Symposium / Karen Shackleford, PhD
Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD

Karen Shackleford, PhD

Doctoral Faculty in Media Psychology at Fielding Graduate University. And incoming editor of APA journal — Psychology of Popular Media


Karen Shackleford is a social psychologist who studies the social construction of reality via media. For example, she studies how people’s beliefs, attitudes and ideas are influenced by our consumption of fictional narratives in all of their forms. She also investigates the relationship between being a fan or consumer of popular culture fiction and positive outcomes such as well-being, empowerment and positive belief change. Ultimately, she is interested in better understanding how our interactions and relationships with characters and stories can change us. She has focused particular attention on our understanding of social categories such as race, gender and sexual orientation in the media shapes our social thinking, including that related to identity, stereotypes, prejudice and well-being. In addition to her work on narrative fiction and social categories, she also does research on social media, including how we construct social realities via social media. She is the author of How Fantasy Becomes Reality (Oxford, 2009, 2016), co-author of Finding Truth in Fiction (Shackleford & Vinney, Oxford, 2020) the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology (2013) and the Incoming Editor of Psychology of Popular Media, a journal published by the American Psychological Association. Her TEDx talk is called Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter are Real.


Parasocial Relationships: Conversation with Four Authors of Real Characters

The Psychology of Popular Media

Real Characters: Parasocial Relationships During a Pandemic

Publishing in Media Psych: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World