Dr. Pamela Rutledge is a scholar-practitioner, integrating her expertise in media psychology with 20+ years as a media producer. She applies behavioral, social and neuroscience to understanding the impact of media content and technology design and anticipating audience behaviors. Rutledge focuses on identifying human motivations, behavioral triggers and instinctive drives to inform messaging and data strategies that deliver actionable insights.
In her capacity as a professional media psychologist, Dr. Rutledge consults with a variety of clients; data science team member at 20th Century Fox Films, persona development for the Oprah Winfrey Network, audience insights for Warner Bros., persona-based narrative strategies to disrupt terrorist messaging in social for the US Dept. of Defense, persuasive narratives to shift brand strategies for Saatchi and Saatchi, and the integration of human motivation into data strategies for Panoramic Data Visualization.
As faculty at Fielding Graduate University, Dr. Rutledge designs and teaches courses on brand narratives and transmedia storytelling, and audience engagement and segmentation through persona development. Her academic research focuses on the use of meaning making and narrative theory to understand the human and social experience and use of media and technology platforms. She has a particular interest in promoting the ethical use of media and technology design and content based on the tenets of positive psychology.
Dr. Rutledge speaks internationally and has published both academic and popular work on audience narratives, multi-platform engagement, the impact of mobile media, and qualitative research. She has contributed three chapters to the International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology. She is also the author of: Transmedia Psychology - Creating Compelling and Immersive Experiences; The Psychology of Mobile Technologies; Augmented Reality - A Brain-Based Model for Interactive and Immersive Media; and Bridging Research and Practice: Using Proactive Narratives in a U.S. Department of Defense White Paper Assessing and Anticipating Threats to US Security Interests.
Dr. Rutledge acts as an expert witness in litigation related to audience and fan behaviors, is a blogger for PsychologyToday.com and is also a frequent expert source on media use and popular culture for media outlets such as The NY Times, The BBC World, UK Guardian, ABC News, Time, and the Wall Street Journal.
Industry Expertise (4)
Media - Broadcast
Areas of Expertise (10)
Trust in Information
Positive Psychology Applied to Media
Qualitative Research and Analysis
Brand Storytelling and Brand Meaning
Fear Behavior and Pandemics
Distinguished Faculty Award (personal)
(2011) University of California Irvine Extension
Early Career Award for Contributions to the Field of Media Psychology (professional)
(2014) Recipient of the Early Career Award for Contributions to the Field of Media Psychology
Fielding Graduate University: Ph.D., Media Psychology 2008
Fielding Graduate University: M.A., Media Psychology 2007
Claremont Graduate University: M.B.A., Finance and Accounting, with honors 1988
- American Psychological Association : Member
- Society for Consumer Psychology : Conference paper reviewer 2011-13
- American Psychological Society : Member
- International Communications Association : Conference paper reviewer 2007-15
- The Society for Media Psychology and Technology Division : Member; Chair Finance Committee
- International Association for Positive Psychology : Member
- American Psychological Society
- European Journal of Social Psychology, Article Reviewer 2011-present
- Journal of Mass Media Communications, Article Reviewer 2011-present
- Journal of Media and Popular Culture, Article reviewer 2013-present
- Editor, Media Psychology Review http://www.mediapsychologyreview.com
Media Appearances (13)
The darkly soothing compulsion of 'doomscrolling.'
The darkly soothing compulsion of 'doomscrolling.' By Jessica Klein. (March 3, 2021). BBC.
How Covid-19 has changed social media habits
How Covid-19 has changed social media habits. By Rani Molla. (Mar 1, 2021). VOX.
How coronavirus vaccine selfies help fight the battle against misinformation.
How coronavirus vaccine selfies help fight the battle against misinformation. (January 29, 2021). By Erin Carson. CNET
Why All Parents Should Think Twice Before Posting Photos of Their Kids Online
Why All Parents Should Think Twice Before Posting Photos of Their Kids Online (January 20, 2021). By Adam Bulger. FATHERLY.
3 Ways to Stop ‘Doomscrolling’ for Your Mental Health This Week
3 Ways to Stop ‘Doomscrolling’ for Your Mental Health This Week. (January 11, 2021). By Sinclair Ceasar III. MSN.com LIFESTYLE.
Data Privacy Is an Illusion in Today’s Social Media World – An Interview with Dr. Pamela Rutledge
Data Privacy Is an Illusion in Today’s Social Media World – An Interview with Dr. Pamela Rutledge. (August 3, 2020). Financial Sense.
Is there such as thing as too much screen time right now?
Is there such as thing as too much screen time right now? (April 2, 2020). By AJ Dellinger. Mic
Lockdown was supposed to be an introvert’s paradise. It’s not.
MIT Technology Review
Lockdown was supposed to be an introvert’s paradise. It’s not. (April 2, 2020). By Abby Ohlheiser. MIT Technology Review.
Sextortion: The Online Scam That's Blackmailing Teens
“They are increasingly prevalent, growing by nearly 250% in 2018 alone,” says Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge, Director Media Psychology Research Center. The good news, Rutlege says, is that “While there are some examples of real extortion involving theft of nude photos or videos, most are hoaxes that have no basis in reality.” In most cases, the only information they actually have is you or your teen’s email address. But they are still dangerous. If the sender cannot get your teen to pay a ransom, Rutledge says the next hope is that they will accidentally open malware included in the email. This can allow them access to the device’s webcam.
Why watching historical dramas is good for you according to psychologists
CBC Television online
According to media psychology experts, Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center in California as well as faculty in the media psychology program at Fielding Graduate University, and Dr. Shira Gabriel, an Associate Professor of Psychology at SUNY, University at Buffalo, there are positive psychological benefits to watching your fave historical drama including improved mental health, social connections and even listening skills in kids.
Teenagers are discovering that the world of YouTube fan fiction can have a dark, sexual, and violent side
"In a parasocial relationship, the audience comes to feel that the personality is a friend and they experience the person as if they were in a reciprocal relationship, rather than a one-sided one," media psychologist Pamela Rutledge told Insider in a previous article.
'You' fans think Joe is a psychopath, but mental health experts say they're wrong
Business Insider online
One reason it's difficult to pinpoint a single mental health condition for Goldberg is the simple fact "You" was created for television, according to Pamela Rutledge, a social scientist who researches the intersection of media, human behavior, and neuroscience.
Here's why it feels so good to watch those Hallmark holiday movies
NBC News online
As for the absence of cinematic wow factor that's become a "hallmark" of these movies (sorry, had to), there's a reason why we're so forgiving of it. "The lack of reality at all levels, from plot to production, signals that the movies are meant to be escapism entertainment," Rutledge explains. "The genre is well-defined, and our expectations follow. This enables us to suspend disbelief."
Event Appearances (6)
Positive Media Psychology
Psychology Colloquium - 2021 Virtual
Presence and the Impact of Personality
Digital Hollywood Conference - 2019 Los Angeles, CA
Data Strategy and Narrative
Variety Data Innovation Symposium - 2019 Los Angeles, CA
Media Psychology: What It Is and How to Use it
Credible Partners Conference - 2017 Baltimore, MD
Brand Story as Virtual Reality
Media Summit - 2016 New York, NY
Presidential Panel The Internet of You: Selfie Empowerment
American Psychological Association National Convention - 2015 Toronto, ON
In Search of the Hero: Qualitative Analysis of Audience Response to The Predator TrailerReal Characters
Rutledge, P. (2021) In Search of the Hero: Qualitative Analysis of Audience Response to The Predator Trailer. In K. Shackleford & K. Walker (Ed.), Real Characters. Fielding University Press.
Positive Media PsychologyThe International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology
Rutledge, P. (2020). Positive Media Psychology. In J. Van den Buick (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
Qualitative ResearchThe International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology
Rutledge, P. (2020). Qualitative Research. In J. Van den Buick (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
Long-form InterviewingThe International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology
Rutledge, P. and Hogg, J. L. (2020). Long-form Interviewing. In J. Van den Buick (Ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
You Can Learn a Lot by Listening: Use narrative analysis to understand the “why” in consumer behavior trendsThe Actuary
Rutledge, P. (2019). You Can Learn a Lot by Listening: Use narrative analysis to understand the “why” in consumer behavior trends. The Actuary, April/May.
Transmedia Psychology: Creating Compelling and Immersive ExperiencesRoutledge Companion to Transmedia Studies
Rutledge, P. (2019). Transmedia Psychology: Creating Compelling and Immersive Experiences. In M. Freeman & R. R. Gambarato (Eds.), Routledge Companion to Transmedia Studies. London: Routledge.
Media Psychology: What You Need to Know and How to Use ItPractical Psychology in Medical Rehabilitation
2017 Media technologies can offer many advantages to medical rehabilitation when sensitively matched to people’s strengths and constraints. Achieving this effective pairing to help practitioners and patients achieve their goals is at the heart of media psychology. The purpose of this chapter is to provide practitioners with context and examples to facilitate the implementation of media technologies into their practices and professional lives.
Social Networks: What Maslow MissesPsychology Today
2011 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model, developed in 1948, resonates across many disciplines, from business, technology and education to its field of origin, psychology. It speaks to potential and to positive conceptualizations of human motivation.
What is media psychology? And why you should careMedia Psychology Research Center
2010 Psychology is key to understanding the implications of technology. Consequently, it seems like it should be pretty straightforward to define media psychology. For some reason, though, it’s not.