David Ewoldsen Ph.D.

David Ewoldsen


  • Media & Information
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David Ewoldsen, Ph.D. brings an interdisciplinary approach to the study of communication and the media, and draws from communication scholarship, social and cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and cognitive anthropology. A respected researcher and scholar, his most recent ventures have focused on racism and the media, comprehension of media messages, cooperative video game play, entertainment, and the role of attitudes in risky health behavior.

Ewoldsen completed a joint Ph.D. in psychology and speech communication at Indiana University in 1990. Following his Ph.D., he served as a postdoctoral fellow in the cognitive sciences program at Vanderbilt University from 1990-1991. Shortly afterward, he became faculty at the University of Alabama with appointments in the Department of Communication Studies, Psychology, and African American Studies. In 2009, he joined the faculty of the School of Communication at Ohio State University.

Ewoldsen lives in Bath Township with his spouse Nancy Rhodes,[AK1] an assistant professor in the MSU Department of Advertising and Public Relations. They have four grown children and a cat named Allie. When he’s not working, Ewoldsen likes to canoe, kayak, hike and do most things outdoorsy-including flower gardening. He also loves The Who, dislikes most professional teams associated with Chicago, and admits to having a horrible sense of humor.


Dr. Ewoldsen is a professor in the Department of Media and Information. He teaches and mentors undergraduate and graduating students, conducts research, and collaborates with his MSU colleagues and scholars. His primary focus is media and information theory or methods-which makes him a perfect fit to co-teach MI 101: Understanding Media.

Research and Teaching

Ewoldsen’s key research interests are media psychology, health communication, attitudes and persuasion.

Research Centers and Labs

Health and Risk Communication Center


Recent Publications:
  • Velez, J. A., Loof, T., Smith, C. A., Jordan, J. M., Villarreal, J. A. & Ewoldsen, D. R. (in press). Switching schemes: Do effects of “mindless” interactions with agents carry over to humans and vice versa? Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.
  • Lee, J., Eden, A., Ewoldsen, D., Beyea, D., & Lee, S. (in press). Seeing possibilities for action: Orienting and exploratory behaviors in VR. Computers in Human Behavior.
Recent External Grants Funded
  • Co-PI, Media Psychological Approaches to the Assessment of Great Lakes Now and Pre-School University. Detroit Public TV. Total cost = $75,631.02
  • Consultant, Preventing substance use through hybrid web and in vivo delivery of Coping Power. R34. NIDA. Total costs = $615,627.
  • Investigator, News and ad effects on alcohol risk perceptions. R01. NIAA. Total costs = $2,278,258. 2009-2013.
Recent Awards:
  • 2023 Top Paper Award, Mass Communication Division, National Communication Association
  • 2019 Top Paper Award, Games Division, International Communication Association
  • 2017 Top Paper Award, Games Division, National Communication Association
  • 2016 International Communication Association (ICA) Fellow
Creative/Research Work:

As a researcher focused on media psychology, Ewoldsen engages in the scientific study of the psychological processes involved in the selection, uses, interpretation, and effects of mediated communication. His recent research has included media and racism, adolescent risky behaviors, cooperative video game play, how people comprehend media messages, motivations for seeking narratives, and the psychology of entertainment.

Among his long-term projects are studies on the role of attitudes and norms in adolescent risky behavior (with Nancy Rhodes [AK2]at MSU), the potential for the media to augment interventions aimed at decreasing delinquency in adolescents (with John Lochman at the University of Alabama), and understanding the role of the media in promoting and combating racist attitudes (with Morgan Ellithorpe [AK3]at MSU).

Contact Information

404 Wilson Rd.
Communication Arts and Sciences Building
Michigan State University