Associate Professor Nancy Rhodes Takes Role in Media Psychology to the Next Level
An MSU health communication scholar with research and teaching interests in media psychology, persuasion and social influence was recently named associate editor of Psychology of Popular Media®, a publication of the American Psychological Association.
Nancy Rhodes, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at ComArtSci, was appointed in June for a two-year renewable term that began in September 2020.
The peer-reviewed scholarly journal reports on cutting-edge research that illuminates the effects of ubiquitous and influential popular media on the human experience. Research featured in the journal explores the psychological experience of people’s interaction with all forms of popular media including social media, games, apps, and fictional narratives such as film, television and books.
“I’m really looking forward to being involved in publishing work that furthers our understanding of how popular media influences individuals, and how people actively participate in creating meaning from their experiences of media,” said Rhodes. “It’s an honor and a thrill to perform this service to the field of media psychology.”
Attitudes, Norms and Effects
Rhodes recently started her fifth year in the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences, following decades of experience as a research scientist, communications scholar and educator at Texas A&M University, University of Alabama and The Ohio State University. Trained as a social psychologist at Texas A&M, Rhodes worked in pharmaceutical marketing research before returning to academia full-time.
Rhodes’ research has appeared in various journals including Communication Research, Communication Monographs and Media Psychology, and in specialty health and safety journals. Her published work has looked at the effects of attitudes and norms on cigarette smoking and risky driving behavior. More recently, she has examined how normative influences contribute to substance use, and how norms might contribute to resistance to health-related messages.
As a health communicator, Rhodes welcomes the challenges of presenting messages that get through the automatic processes that bias the way people sometimes think. The APA journal, she said, is particularly relevant to health communication and related studies with its focus on the accessibility and prevalence of media in everyday life.
“Being able to understand how this immersion into mediated worlds influences the way people think, feel and act is critical for understanding the human experience,” Rhodes said. “In addition, in our current situation of social distancing because of the pandemic, we are turning more and more to the media to fill in some of the missing social connections in our lives.”
Higher Visibility for Media Psychology
Rhodes expects to see increasing research and manuscripts delving into the effect of COVID-19 on media use and the way media influences how people behave, interact and process the world. The Psychology of Popular Media, she added, is well-positioned as a journal of theory and research that contributes significantly to the field of media psychology through the publication of qualitative and quantitative empirical research, reviews, meta-analyses, and replications.
Rhodes said her appointment will help increase the visibility of media psychology as a central area of inquiry and scholarship at MSU and the College of ComArtSci. Serving in an editorial role with the APA also provides access to cutting-edge research, theory and knowledge that affects what she explores in the classroom.
“I will be teaching my students about the latest developments in media psychology in real time,” she said. “These developments can take as long as 10 years to make it in textbooks. My students will know about them now.”
By Ann Kammerer