There are many disciplines of psychology but media psychology is probably not one most people would think of…or are even familiar with. Succinctly, media psychology uses the science of psychology to study and harness the power of media technologies. It includes all forms of communication, interaction and experience, and it is fundamental to the development, design, and use of media technologies.
The goal of media psychologists is to try to answer those questions by combining an understanding of human behavior, cognition, and emotions with an equal understanding of media technologies. Unlike some types of media studies, media psychology is not just concerned with content. Media psychology looks at the whole system.
Technology is ubiquitous; it proliferates almost on a daily basis as new technologies replace the not-so-old. These technologies are introducing capabilities that are redefining the way humans work, play, and communicate. According to the Media Psychology Research Center, media psychologists add value in five ways:
- Helping people adjust to the rapid pace of technological progress
- Holding authors and journalists accountable to professional standards when new research reports make headlines by actually reading the reports
- Explain the difference between correlation and causality
- Remind everyone that the experience of media technologies varies by person, culture, context, and what you are trying to achieve
- Helping people understand that the sky is not falling
As a student, you’ll first need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology before advancing to the master’s level to specialize in this field. A Master’s degree program in Media psychology provides students with the skills and knowledge about the effects of traditional and new media fields. Here are some of the concepts inherent in a typical master’s program:
- Impacts of media and technology on human behavior
- Statistics and research of psychological impacts of media
- Analyze the influence of social conditions on human behavior
- Business concepts for the consulting media psychologist
- Psychology of personality
- Human motivation
- Psychological impact of film and television
- Psychological impact of the internet and mobile technologies
Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California, offers a masters program in media psychology. Here is a sampling of the curriculum:
- Global Media and Social Advocacy
- Media and Political Psychology: Propaganda and Persuasion
- Immersive Media and Mobile Advocacy
- The Psychology of Neuromarketing
- Audience Engagement through Profiling
Of course, there are doctoral degrees in this field. While many career options are readily available for those who complete their Masters degree in Media Psychology, the complexity of the this field allows for significant growth in individuals who decide to further their educational career by earning their PhD in psychology.
Career possibilities for those with a Master’s degree in Media Psychology are:
- Media Psychologist
- Organizational Psychologist
- Media Consultant
- Marketing Director
- Marketing campaign consultant for a media organization
Many with interests in health care, education, business or the arts benefit from a degree in media psychology. A health care professional, for example, can apply media psychology research in a variety of ways, including creating media-based tools for therapeutic purposes, or using media devices for health care prevention, such as weight loss, smoking cessation or helping implement an exercise plan. Media can also be used for support groups and distance health care.
Businesses need those with knowledge of media behavior to formulate technology training programs that impart knowledge and ease users’ fears. Companies that specialize in technology need professionals who can advise engineers on interface design and usability, as well as learning styles and preferences. Also, virtual companies that employ Instant Messaging and other virtual communication tools use media psychology professionals to facilitate and guide virtual team-building.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median salary for all psychologists at $69,280 in 2012. The BLS projects the profession to increase at the rate of 12% through 2022 with the change/addition of 18,700 jobs.