I am frequently asked questions about studying media psychology and about what jobs exist for media psychologists.
Here are a few questions I received recently:
- How are social networking sites viewed in Media Psychology?
- Are Media Psychologist working at most companies encouraged or discouraged from joining such sites?
- How companies feel about employees having personal information online?
- How are blogs, podcasts, and vodcasts used in the job?
Most of the answers to the questions like these are dictated by the environment in which a person works, particularly when a person is part of an organization of any kind, from educational to corporate. Different companies and organizations have different policies.
More important, however, is that media psychology is an emerging field. Therefore, there is no narrow or established definition of a media psychologist. Media psychology has as many applications as there are disciplines, from education, business, politics, and healthcare, to entertainment. Media psychology can involve research, assessment, and development of media technologies. It is not possible to say what media platforms a psychologist will use or know well, much less be appropriate to a situation.
The important thing to remember about media psychology is that is starts with psychology not media. Media psychology is an understanding of human behavior and human/media interaction that is applied to the assessment, development and research of continually evolving technologies.
A degree in media psychology should provide a thorough grounding in psychological theory (cognitive, developmental, social, affective, personality, biological bases) and an understanding of how those theories and the accompanying body of research applies to existing and emerging communication and media technologies. Media psychologists examine the way people use media platforms, the way people construct media content, and the way media impacts individuals and society.
This is definitely no one-size-fits-all kind of field. Media psychology provides a basis for determining which applications might best meet a given set of needs and how to best implement them. Individuals use different media platforms is specific purposes and goals. In business, for example, a goal might be to develop or promote better internal or external communications, for brand development and product development, or for customer relations and sales interface. In education, the goal might be to determine what media platforms best enhance the learning experience. Another example is social networking. This can be a a powerful tool , but whether or not to use it depends upon an individual’s or company’s goal.
Media psychology also examines the ethical issues that arise from emerging technologies, such as privacy, intellectual property, or negative behaviors such as cyber-bullying and addiction. It also addresses broader social issues such as conflict resolution and identity development.
The term media is often seen as a synonym of mass media. For most media psychologists, media is not restricted to any single platform. Personally , I think of media as a utility, like electricity. (But not one that should be heavily regulated.) Media psychology is about understanding how humans put media to use and how that changes their lives. For me, it is also about how to harness that power to make people’s lives better.