About Pam Rutledge

Pamela Rutledge, PhD, is a scholar-practitioner, integrating her expertise in media psychology with 20+ years as a media producer. A member of the faculty at Fielding Graduate University since 2008, Dr. Rutledge teaches in the areas of brand psychology, audience engagement and narrative meaning. Dr. Rutledge consults with entertainment companies, such as 20th Century Fox Films and Warner Bros., on data strategies and audience narratives. Dr. Rutledge has published both academic and popular work, including a text on positive psychology and psychological appeal for fans of the Twilight Saga and resilience in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She has also written book chapters on meaning-making and fandom, transmedia narrative engagement, and positive media psychology. She authors “Positively Media” for Psychology Today and is also a frequent expert source on media use and popular culture for media outlets such as The NY Times, The BBC World and ABC News. She holds a PhD and an MBA.

Why We Mourn the Loss of TV Dad Bob Saget

2022-01-15T20:51:31+00:00

Parasocial relationships with TV dads create emotional connection and meaning. KEY POINTS TV dads are idealized versions of the fathers we’d all love to have. A parasocial relationship describes the one-sided emotional attachment we feel to real and fictional characters. Losing a loved character is experienced as the loss of a real connection; it leaves a hole. Parasocial relationships add to media enjoyment by increasing the immediate pleasure and creating a longer-term sense of meaning. Bob Saget was among the very best of TV dads. Like James Avery, John Ritter, Alan Thicke, and Tom Bosely, he raised his TV [...]

Why We Mourn the Loss of TV Dad Bob Saget2022-01-15T20:51:31+00:00

Are Tech Gifts Bad for My Kids?

2021-12-13T23:39:49+00:00

Tech gifts can introduce digital skills which are foundational to STEM. KEY POINTS Technology from iPhones to Nintendo Switch tops kids’ holiday wishlists. COVID has changed kids' expectations about digital devices—not to mention their parents'. Lots of tech toys teach digital skills, like critical thinking and collaboration. Digital skills are foundational to STEM skills and are a minimum standard for most careers. From an iPhone to Nintendo Switch, a tablet to a smartwatch, what’s on your kid’s wish list? How can you make sense out of what tech experiences are positive? How do you match technology choices with [...]

Are Tech Gifts Bad for My Kids?2021-12-13T23:39:49+00:00

The Psychology of Peloton’s Appeal: What Keeps Us Riding

2021-12-02T23:13:01+00:00

Successful virtual exercise targets much more than physical fitness. KEY POINTS COVID made hybrid experiences more acceptable and even desirable. Self-determination theory is a framework for evaluating technology experience, focusing on core needs: agency, competence, and social connection. When designed well, technology can contribute to the satisfaction of these needs and enhance wellbeing. Peloton creates a virtual experience that simultaneously empowers members to achieve and increases a sense of belonging. Successful virtual exercise targets much more than physical fitness. Like many, I purchased a Peloton bike at the start of COVID. It was a leap of [...]

The Psychology of Peloton’s Appeal: What Keeps Us Riding2021-12-02T23:13:01+00:00

The Psychological Appeal of Squid Games: Why We Can’t Stop Watching

2021-10-11T18:06:19+00:00

Key Points Squid Games is a survival drama and cautionary tale that examines the extremes of social power, injustice, and privilege. It is timely because it encapsulates the powerlessness, frustration, and confusion of the pandemic. In Squid Games, the lack of empathy and cruel abuse of power is more difficult to watch than the violence. Source: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock Netflix’s Squid Games is a dystopian fiction that pits a group of desperate people against each other in deadly children’s games, lured by the salvation of a large cash prize. The main character is an initially unsympathetic gambling addict Seong Gi-hun who steals from [...]

The Psychological Appeal of Squid Games: Why We Can’t Stop Watching2021-10-11T18:06:19+00:00

How to Stop Trauma Dumping and Protect Your Mental Health

2021-09-27T22:25:43+00:00

How to Stop Trauma Dumping and Protect Your Mental Health Are you a trauma dumper? Trauma dumping is a type of emotional dumping that, to quote the Urban Dictionary, results in “unloading all your emotional crap unmercifully onto one or more of your friends.” The practice has expanded from people you know to trauma dumping to total strangers. Trauma dumping can be hazardous to your friendships and mental health. Yes. The last months have been stressful and a lot of us have pent-up emotions that we’d like to air.  That’s no excuse for unloading negativity onto the unsuspecting. [...]

How to Stop Trauma Dumping and Protect Your Mental Health2021-09-27T22:25:43+00:00

What To Do When Your Friend Behaves Badly Online?

2021-09-27T22:21:03+00:00

What To Do When Your Friend Behaves Badly Online? We see a lot of behaviors online.  Everybody has their own ideas about normal, but we sometimes see people we know posting online in ways that seem totally off.  It is troublesome when it's someone we know and care about. Do we look the other way or are we not being a good friend by ignoring it?  How do we distinguish between socially inappropriate and someone in mental distress? Mental distress is complex.  Behavior changes can be triggered by a range of things—many of which are situational and will pass, but [...]

What To Do When Your Friend Behaves Badly Online?2021-09-27T22:21:03+00:00

Gabby Petito: True-Crime Rubbernecking on Social Media

2021-09-23T23:57:39+00:00

A true-crime case unleashes speculation and opportunism on TikTok. KEY POINTS When Influencer Gabby Petito disappeared, social media embraced the case, generating millions of views. Information takes on meaning of its own as it travels, attracting opportunists using hashtags as clickbait. There is real danger in true crime speculation that activates our survival instincts, but the appeal goes deeper than rubbernecking. The wealth of social media content on Petito generated empathy, identification, and parasocial connections, creating emotional investment. True crime is appealing.  Call it morbid curiosity, but we can't look away.  True crime speculation about the attractive young Influencer [...]

Gabby Petito: True-Crime Rubbernecking on Social Media2021-09-23T23:57:39+00:00

How Period Dramas Like “Bridgerton” Soothe and Inspire

2021-06-15T23:51:37+00:00

Escapism, a good character, and a happy ending can build optimism and esteem. KEY POINTS Human brains love symmetry and completion, so audiences are soothed by the predictable patterns of period drama stories. Connection to characters in period dramas lets viewers “try on” different identities and explore new ways of being. Period dramas explore archetypal themes which invite the audience consider core ideas, such as the desire to be seen and loved. We learned a lot of things during the stress and uncertainty of 2020, including that media can be a wonderful escape into another time and place. Period dramas [...]

How Period Dramas Like “Bridgerton” Soothe and Inspire2021-06-15T23:51:37+00:00

What is Positive Media Psychology?

2021-08-29T14:00:41+00:00

presenter PAM RUTLEDGE, PHD Doctoral faculty, Media Psychology zoom webinar May 19, 2021 Positive Media Psychology applies the theories and research from positive psychology to media and technology. Whether I’m working with interactive media, entertainment experiences, marketing content, social media, mobile devices or the news, a positive media psychology paradigm shifts the perspective away from looking for what’s wrong toward how mediated experiences can make lives and society better. In this brief presentation, I will discuss how media and technology can contribute to positive emotions, such as happiness and empathy; what technologies are used to support optimal engagement and mindfulness [...]

What is Positive Media Psychology?2021-08-29T14:00:41+00:00

What is Positive Media Psychology?

2021-06-03T22:24:04+00:00

Harness the Power of Media for Good. Positive Media Psychology applies the theories and research from positive psychology to media and technology. Whether I’m working with interactive media, entertainment experiences, marketing content, social media, mobile devices or the news, a positive media psychology paradigm shifts the perspective away from looking for what’s wrong toward how mediated experiences can make lives and society better. In this brief presentation, I will discuss how media and technology can contribute to positive emotions, such as happiness and empathy; what technologies are used to support optimal engagement and mindfulness and how even [...]

What is Positive Media Psychology?2021-06-03T22:24:04+00:00
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