Rabindra (Robby) Ratan (CV) is an Associate Professor and AT&T Scholar at Michigan State University’s Department of Media and Information as well as Director of the Social and Psychological Approaches to Research on Technology-Interaction Effects (SPARTIE) Lab. He is also an affiliated faculty member of the MSU Department of Psychology, the MSU College of Education’s program in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology, and the MSU Center for Gender in a Global Context. Ratan received his Ph.D. from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, his M.A. in Communication from Stanford University, and his B.A. in Science, Technology and Society, also from Stanford University.
Dr. Ratan conducts research on the effects of human-technology interaction, examining how media technologies (e.g., avatars, agents, automobiles) influence meaningful outcomes (e.g., persuasion, education, health/safety). He is particularly interested in the Proteus effect, the implications of avatars in both gaming and non-gaming (education, health, business) contexts, and the effects of gender stereotypes in gaming on STEM engagement.
Here are some examples of current and recent research questions:
- In what ways can avatars and virtual worlds be harnessed to improve performance and motivation in education, health, and business activities?
- How can virtual meeting platforms better support well-being and social equity?
- What is the state of the metaverse (i.e., the interconnection of virtual worlds) beyond gaming?
- How can social interactions with transportation technologies (e.g. autonomous vehicles, escooters, etc.) be designed to improve user trust, safety, and adoption?
- To what extent are gender stereotypes in the video game context responsible for gender disparity in STEM fields and how can video games/avatars better combat stereotype threat?
Dr. Ratan has authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles in publication venues such as Media Psychology, the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Communication Research, Computers in Human Behavior, Games and Culture, and New Media & Society.
Dr. Ratan loves teaching, especially large classes, where tries to make the discussion as engaging and interactive as possible. He has received multiple teaching awards, including the 2017 MSU Teacher-Scholar Award and 2015 MSU AT&T Instructional Technology Award, and he was also a 2014-2015 MSU Lilly Teaching Fellow. He experiments with new technologies and teaching approaches, including rapping and riding a skateboard in class to keep students' attention. A description of his larger teaching philosophy is here.
For more info, please see his CV or website.
MI101: Understanding Media (undergraduate)
MI401: Avatar Psychology (undergraduate)
MI401: Science Fiction and Technology (undergraduate)
MI960: Media & Technology (Ph.D.)
UGS200H: Video Game Impacts: Play with Meaning (honors undergraduate)
CAS 496: Hip-Hop, Communication & Society