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)
Training and Development
Areas of Expertise (13)
Social Representations in Media
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
University Yearbook Dedicatee (professional)
(2009) Dedicated by Fielding Graduate University
University of Missouri-Columbia: PhD, Social Psychology 1997
University of Missouri-Columbia: MA, Social Psychology 1994
University of Missouri-Columbia: BA, Psychology 1991
- ICA (Feminist Scholarship and Mass Communications) : Member 2013-present
- APA, Division 46 (Media Psychology) : Member 2009-present
- Psychologists for Social Responsibility : Member 2011-present
- International Society for Research on Aggression : Member 2008-present
- Southeastern Psychological Association : Member 1998-present
- Association for Psychological Science : Member
- Psi Chi Society : Member 1990-present (President - University of Missouri chapter 1991, Vice-President 1990)
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
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...
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."...
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.”...
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...
More than virtual: real community, many ways of connecting
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...
Event Appearances (14)
When sexism trumps fandom: Hostile sexism and social dominance predict negative reactions to Doctor Who’s first female Doctor (with Greenwood, D.N., Clifton, A., Vinney, C., Sadeghi-Azar, L.)
(2018) Association for Psychological Science Annual Meeting San Francisco, CA
Popular culture media fans as a population for the study of long-term narrative effects
(2018) International Communication Association Annual Meeting, Narrative Pre-Conference Prague, Czech Republic
Inspiration and aspiration: Women in STEM careers reflect on role models, media portrays and influences on occupational goals (with Hopper-Losenicky, K.)
(2017) Society for Research in Child Development Special Topics meeting on media and children Irvine, CA
Moms, teenaged girls, and selfies: Daughters’ selfie Practices, gratifications, beliefs and personality correlates
(2016) Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference Seattle, WA
Media and social justice: The power of stories
(2016) Latino America Series Catawba Valley Community College, Hickory, North Carolina
The social psychology of fandom: TV and film absorption as psychological fitness exercise
(2015) American Psychological Association -- Division 46, Salon Series Webinar Washington, D.C.
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)
(2012) International Society for Research in Aggression Conference Walferdange, Luxembourg
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.
Ed. Dill-Shackleford, K. E.
American Psychological Association (APA)
Psychology of Popular Media Culture ® is a scholarly journal dedicated to publishing empirical research and papers on how popular culture and general media influence individual, group, and system behavior.
The journal publishes rigorous research studies, as well as data-driven theoretical papers on constructs, consequences, program evaluations, and trends related to popular culture and various media sources. Although the journal welcomes and encourages submissions from a wide variety of disciplines, topics should be linked to psychological theory and research.
Fielding Media Psychology faculty member Karen Dill-Shackleford is Incoming Editor of the American Psychological Association's Psychology of Popular Media Culture for January 2020.
(2019) Dill-Shackleford, K. E., & Vinney, C.
(2016) Dill-Shackleford, K. E.
From smartphones to social media, from streaming videos to fitness bands, our devices bring us information and entertainment all day long, forming an intimate part of our lives. Their ubiquity represents a major shift in human experience, and although we often hold our devices dear, we do not always fully appreciate how their nearly constant presence can influence our lives for better and for worse.
(2015) Dill-Shackleford, K. E., Vinney, C., Hogg, J. L., & Hopper-Losenicky, K.
This is the story of the Mad Men fan phenomenon: how the show and its fans distinguished themselves in a market where it’s hard to make an impression, not unlike the driven ad execs at the center of the show. In this book, four media psychologists who also just happen to be dedicated Mad Men fans explore how the show’s viewers make meaning from fictional drama. The authors also interviewed several contemporary advertising industry professionals, getting their inside view of the business in its modern guise and what they make of the show’s vision of their past. The result is cutting-edge psychological research...
(2013) Dill, K. E. (Ed.)
New York, NY
It is indisputable that media is by far the most common means by which human beings spend our free time in the modern world. However, the ubiquity of media in our lives brings with it advantages and disadvantages along with uncertainty: will increased dependence on media impair our social functioning, enhance it, or both?
(2017) Grant, D. S., & Dill-Shackleford, K. E.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 6(1), 2–20. http://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000126
(2017) Burgess, M. C. R., Byars, F., Sadeghi-Azar, L., & Dill-Shackleford, K. E.
Peter Sturmey (Ed.),
(2017) Dill-Shackleford K. E., Ramasubramanian S., & Drake L. M.
(2016) Dill‐Shackleford, K. E., Vinney, C., and Hopper‐Losenicky, K.
Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 10, 634-646, doi: 10.1111/spc3.12274
(2016) Stotler, M. A., & Dill-Shackleford, K. E.
C. Jansson-Boyd & M. Zowisza (Eds.)
Taylor & Francis Ltd
(2016) Vinney, C., & Dill-Shackleford, K.
Psychology of Popular Media Culture, doi:http://dx.doi.org.fgul.idm.oclc.org/10.1037/ppm0000106
(2016) Dill-Shackleford, K. E., Eddington, S., Henderson, L., Mizock, L., & Taylor, O.
(2015) Anderson, C. A., Andrighetto, L., Begue, L., Boxer, P., Brockmeyer, J. F., Burgess, M. C. R., …Dill-Shackleford, K. E.,… Warburton, W.
(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 ...
(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 ...
(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 ...
(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.