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Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD - Fielding Graduate University. Hickory, NC, US

Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD

Doctoral Faculty - School of Psychology | Fielding Graduate University


Media violence; Fandom and the construction of meaning from media; Media, race and gender.



Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD Publication Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD Publication Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD Publication Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD Publication Karen Dill-Shackleford, PhD Publication



WHAT IS Dr. Karen Dill-Shackleford talks about HERLOCK




Karen Dill-Shackleford earned her PhD in social psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her dissertation on media violence has been cited 1,500 times. She testified twice before Congress about media use and everyday realities. Karen studies the way people seek and construct social meaning from media including fictional stories, especially in the context of fandom. She demonstrates how media can be used to enhance social justice, particularly related to issues involving race and gender. She also studies the benefits of using media to support a meditation practice to enhance psychological well being. Karen is the author of How Fantasy Becomes Reality, and the editor of the Oxford Handbook of Media Psychology. She is co-author of Mad Men Unzipped: Fans on Sex, Love, and the Sixties on TV (University of Iowa Press, 2015); and Finding Truth in Fiction: The Benefits of Getting Lost in a Story (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Industry Expertise (3)

Education/Learning Research Training and Development

Areas of Expertise (13)

Social Psychology Media Psychology Gender Race Social Representations in Media Social Justice Narrative Meaning Making Wellbeing Methodology Media Effects Meditation Social Media

Accomplishments (3)

Outstanding Woman of Catawba Valley Award (professional)

(2008) Awarded by the League of Women Voters of Catawba Valley, NC.

Outstanding Community Service Award (professional)

(2007) Awarded by Lenoir-Rhyne College.

Expert Testimony, US Congress (professional)

(2000) Called to give expert testimony at the Public Health Summit on Entertainment Violence
(2007)) Called to give expert testimony before the House subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection; Hearing entitled, From Imus to Industry: The Business of Stereotypes and Degrading Images. http://tinyurl.com/imustoindustry

Education (3)

University of Missouri-Columbia: PhD, Social Psychology 1997

University of Missouri-Columbia: MA, Social Psychology 1994

University of Missouri-Columbia: BA, Psychology 1991

Affiliations (8)

  • Association for Psychological Science : Member
  • American Psychological Science : Member
  • International Society for Research on Aggression : Member
  • National Science Foundation : Grant Reviewer
  • Oxford University Press : Book Proposal Reviewer
  • imulation & Gaming: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theory Practice and Research : Editorial Board
  • Oxford University Press : Book Referee
  • Institute of Digital Media and Child Development : Working Group Leader

Media Appearances (6)

The Social Psychology of Fandom: TV and Film Absorption as Psychological Fitness Exercise

(2015) American Psychological Association, Division 46  online

Salon Series Webinar
Washington, D.C.

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Media changes course on Ebola

Columbia Journalism Review  online


Such drama only intensifies once politics becomes part of the equation, said Karen Dill-Shackleford, director of the media psychology program at Fielding Graduate University. Politicians and partisan commentators alike have used the virus to take shots at the Obama administration — or to deflect them. On Wednesday night, for example, Fox News host Sean Hannity asked Karl Rove, the political strategist, not only how Ebola would play in the midterm elections, but also how to best treat the virus...

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Model With Disabilities New Image for Tomboy Shop

Womens eNews  online


Social and media psychologist Karen Dill-Shackleford also said seeing Sheypuk regularly modeling for The Tomboy Shop is important because it shows everyone that people with disabilities are just another diversity in life. "It tells [people without disabilities] that people with disabilities have jobs, they are respected by people around them and they are considered beautiful," she said. Dill-Shackleford said if people are invisible in the media we miss out on the crucial opportunity to learn about them. "Learning more leads to less fear and greater understanding and that probably leads to less discrimination."...

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Be Very Afraid: How the Media Failed In Covering Ebola

Harvard Political Review  online


In an interview with the HPR, Karen Dill-Shackleford, director of the media psychology program at Fielding Graduate University, argued that cable news outlets have been particularly bad about spreading misinformation about Ebola. “They know that these things are not true in the way that they present them, but they’re just trying to drum up interest, and unfortunately they just usually push the simple button which is fear.”...

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Engaging in #GamerGate: "There is that fear going into it, as a woman"

Iowa Public Radio  online


The #GamerGate controversy started with concern over ethics in video game journalism and quickly turned into a conversation on how women are treated and perceived in the world of video gaming – an industry that has been mostly dominated by men...

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More than virtual: real community, many ways of connecting

OUPblog  online


Mike was a doctoral student profoundly appreciated and esteemed by faculty, peers, staff, and all who came in contact with him. As is typical in our community, Mike was already a successful mid-career professional. He worked in the tech world and brought his expertise to us. He didn’t have a background in research psychology, but in the last year of his doctoral program, his work was published on nine occasions. Nine publications during the last year of graduate school is an incredible feat for anyone...

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Event Appearances (13)

Media Portrayals of Social Groups

(2015) Institutes of Medicine Board on Children, Youth and Families (Group presentation)  Washington, DC

Modality of Social Support and User Preferences and Success

(2015) American Psychological Association annual meeting  Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Drinking and sex: The addictions of Mad Men through the eyes of the fans

(2015) Popular Culture Association annual meeting  New Orleans, LA

Using social media for sobriety recovery

(2015) American Psychological Association annual meeting  Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Modality of social support: Sobriety recovery using online and face-to-face support

(2015) American Psychological Association  Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Meaningful media lessons: How adolescents learn and develop through interactions with media

(2015) Digital Media and Developing Minds Conference  Irvine, CA

Social psychological perspectives on prosocial media research and application (panel presentation)

(2013) The International Communications Association  London, UK

Using dramatic narrative to reduce myths about relationship abuse (with L.E. Shackleford, M.C. Green, E. Scharrer & C. Wetterer)

International Society for Research in Aggression Conference  Walferdange, Luxembourg


Three Pillars of Causality: The Case of Media Violence and Aggression

Meeting of the International Society for Research on Aggression  Budapest, Hungary


Mass media, Degradation and Aggression

Meeting of the International Society for Research on Aggression  Budapest, Hungary


The Dark and Light Sides of Videogames: The Influence of Videogames on Youth

Invited Presentation at the Universidad Catholica de Santiago de Chile  Santiago, Chile


Science and Public Policy

International Expert Meeting on ICT and Education  Cheju Island, South kores


The Influence of Videogames on Youth: Implications for Learning in the New Millennium

(October, 2007) International Expert Meeting on Videogames and Education  Santiago, Chile

Research Focus (1)

The social construction of reality via our interactions with media in all its forms

Special emphasis on human/media interactions that underlie the social construction of reality, particularly regarding social groups (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation and their intersections); and the construction of reality via narrative media effects and qualitative approaches to research; minimizing risk and increasing benefits of media use (e.g., stereotypes vs. counter-stereotypes; aggression vs. empowerment)

Research Grants (1)


Fielding Graduate University & The Kettering Foundation 

Selected as Senior Researcher on a grant between Fielding Graduate University and the Kettering Foundation on the topic of ameliorating race relations and understanding the public conversation about race, May, 2016.

Articles (12)

Using social media for sobriety recovery? Preferences, Beliefs, Behaviors, and Surprises From Users Psychology of Popular Media Culture

(2017) Grant, D. S., & Dill-Shackleford, K. E.

Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 6(1), 2–20. http://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000126

Connecting the dots between fantasy and reality: The social psychology of our engagement with fictional narrative and its functional value Social and Personality Psychology Compass

(2016) Dill‐Shackleford, K. E., Vinney, C., and Hopper‐Losenicky, K.

Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 10, 634-646, doi: 10.1111/spc3.12274

Race, gender and sexual orientation in gaming research International Handbook of Consumer Psychology

(2016) Stotler, M. A., & Dill-Shackleford, K. E.

C. Jansson-Boyd & M. Zowisza (Eds.)
Taylor & Francis Ltd

Fan fiction as a vehicle for meaning making: Eudaimonic appreciation, hedonic enjoyment, and other perspectives on fan engagement with television Psychology of Popular Media Culture

(2016) Vinney, C., & Dill-Shackleford, K.

Psychology of Popular Media Culture, doi:http://dx.doi.org.fgul.idm.oclc.org/10.1037/ppm0000106

Memo on Racial and Ethnic Tensions The Marie Fielder Center for Democracy, Leadership, and Education

(2016) Dill-Shackleford, K. E., Eddington, S., Henderson, L., Mizock, L., & Taylor, O.


Consensus on Media Violence Effects : Comments on Bushman , Gollwitzer , and Cruz Psychology of Popular Media Culture

(2015) Anderson, C. A., Andrighetto, L., Begue, L., Boxer, P., Brockmeyer, J. F., Burgess, M. C. R., …Dill-Shackleford, K. E.,… Warburton, W.

Finding Truth in Fiction: The Benefits of Getting Lost in a Story (Book) Oxford University Press

(2015) Dill-Shackleford, K. E., & Vinney, C.

Mad Men fans speak via social media: What fan voices reveal about the social construction of reality via dramatic fiction The Journal of Fandom Studies

(2015) Fans of complex television dramas often watch because of eudaimonic motivations–the desire to make meaning from media, to explore their own emotions and to learn about the human experience through the exploration of novel experiences that ...

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Setting the Stage for Social Change: Using Live Theater to Dispel Myths About Intimate Partner Violence Journal of Health Communication

(2015) Research has demonstrated the ability of fictional narratives to educate about social and health issues. Although some entertainment-education efforts have used live theater as a mechanism for social change, very few use social science methods to ...

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Self-compassion and body dissatisfaction in women: A randomized controlled trial of a brief meditation intervention Mindfulness

(2014) Body dissatisfaction is a major source of suffering among women of all ages. One potential factor that could mitigate body dissatisfaction is self-compassion, a construct that is garnering increasing research attention due to its strong association with psychological ...

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Influence of Black Masculinity Game Exemplars on Social Judgments Simulation & Gaming: An International Journal

(2012) In this investigation, the authors ask how media exemplars of Black masculinity influence the views of and intentions toward other Black men. An experiment compared the effects of exposure to Black video game characters fitting the exemplar thug or street criminal (e.g., Carl Johnson from GRAND THEFT AUTO: SAN ANDREAS) versus exemplars of professional Black men (e.g., political leaders), on evaluations of an unknown and unrelated Black or White political candidate and on pro-Black attitudes. Results revealed significant interactions of exemplar type and candidate race on favorability and capability candidate ratings and on pro-Black attitudes. These data demonstrate the power of mass media exemplars of Black masculinity to prime meaningfully different outcomes in viewers. As the face of gaming evolves with advances in technology, so too should the characterization of race in games.

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Effects of Media Stereotypes on Sexual Harassment Judgments and Rape Supportive Attitudes: Popular Video Game Characters, Gender, Violence and Power Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

(2008) Dill, K. E., Brown, B. P., & Collins, M. A. (2008) Effects of Media Stereotypes on Sexual Harassment Judgments and Rape Supportive Attitudes: Popular Video Game Characters, Gender, Violence and Power. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 44, 1402-1408.

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