Media Psychology: The Psychological Basis of the Media's Power of Persuasion

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 24, 2019 - July 05, 20196/24 - 7/05M-F 12:15P-3:05PWaitlistedGabrielle Smith

Course Description

What we see and hear in films, TV, advertising, music and the news, influences our thinking and behavior in ways we are often unaware. How this happens has a lot to do with the ways these media use psychology in producing the work we see and hear. Media Psychology is a new and dynamic field in psychology that studies the varied ways in which social interactions as well as individual psychology is influenced by the predominance of media and its technologies – and the psychological factors involved in media’s heavy role in these interactions. This course will look at how psychology is used in media pursuits, with specific emphasis on movies/television, music, news and the internet. We will examine advertising, stereotypes, dissemination of accurate/inaccurate information, the usage of social influence and the portrayal of interpersonal relationships all through a psychological lens. The primary objective of this course is to provide students with an introduction to the field of Media Psychology and a basic understanding of the role psychology plays in the media.

Within this course students will begin with a reading of Cialdini's work on social influence to garner a basic knowledge of psychological phenomenon. Then, using what they have learned, students will dissect various forms of media to uncover these phenomena at work. Students will be asked to demonstrate knowledge through actively participating in discussions, writing and constructing a media project.

By the end of this course students should have accomplished the following:
• A raised awareness of the expansive impact that media has on the world.
• An understanding of the broad landscape that exists in the field of Media Psychology.
• An understanding that in order to comprehend the media you must have a basic understanding of human behavior.
• An understanding of the appropriate application of psychological theory to the complex media environment.
• An increased ability to write and comprehend text at a college level.
• A basic understanding of psychology as a field.

Prerequisites: This class is open to all but will be particularly interesting to those who have an interest in Psychology, Sociology, Communications, Media Studies or Race and Gender studies.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEMS0917
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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