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 Christmas Movies Make Us Feel Good

2022-12-07T15:25:24-08:00

The health benefits of nostalgia, romance, family, snowflakes, and miracles. Key Points The familiar tropes, and simple, predictable, and non-stressful stories of Christmas movies deliver comfort and improve mood. Recurring themes of romance, family, and friendship reflect and satisfy our deep-seated need for social connection. Holiday movies build bonds across generations and feel like visiting old friends. Feel-good holiday films provide a welcome escape from the pressures of real-world demands. There's no better way to start the holidays than with a Christmas or Holiday movie. Lists of the "Best Christmas Movies" are everywhere, and Hallmark Channel launched its Countdown to [...]

Why Christmas Movies Make Us Feel Good2022-12-07T15:25:24-08:00

Text Messaging Wars: Apple Makes Android Green

2022-10-11T10:16:17-07:00

Apple is a master of using symbols to create social identity. KEY POINTS Throughout its history, Apple has sold identity, not products Message color has become a social categorization tool used to define “in” vs. “out.” Biologically and psychologically, people instinctively want to be "in." The Apple blue versus Android green messaging war isn’t about color. It is about membership and identity. All powerful brands rely on symbolic meaning drawing on universal and cultural archetypes that reflect social values. Some rule through success (Mercedes) or celebrate the hard-fought victories of warriors and heroes (Nike). Apple is no different. They have [...]

Text Messaging Wars: Apple Makes Android Green2022-10-11T10:16:17-07:00

Why Do We Watch Shows About Work After Work?

2022-09-13T14:08:03-07:00

Themes. emotions, and characters drive programming choice—not settings. KEY POINTS TV programs reflect deeper themes beyond the show's setting: Shows about work are really about relationships, power dynamics, and moral values. In times of disruption, TV shows can provide comfort, escapism, and reaffirm order. Connecting with TV characters can help people reflect on what they find meaningful in their own lives. Between ratings and Emmy awards, it seems like Americans are obsessed with shows about work. Just as many return to the office, new hit shows, such as Succession, Severance, Industry, The Bear, Inventing Anna, and The Dropout, are all about [...]

Why Do We Watch Shows About Work After Work?2022-09-13T14:08:03-07:00

Ring Camera Security Videos as Entertainment

2022-08-26T16:23:42-07:00

Ring Nation turns security surveillance videos into a new reality show. KEY POINTS "Ring Nation" is a new reality show based on video content supplied by Ring security camera customers. By framing security camera videos as a source of fun, Ring Nation implicitly makes surveillance an acceptable social practice. Making surveillance "normal" increases the chance of overlooking the potential dangers to privacy and civil liberties. Ring customers with home security cameras are now content providers. Ring, now owned by Amazon, shares “the best” of their customers’ surveillance videos on their website tv.ring.com. Sharing security videos isn’t new. TikTok videos [...]

Ring Camera Security Videos as Entertainment2022-08-26T16:23:42-07:00

8 Ways to Build a Digitally Resilient Kid

2022-08-24T10:28:44-07:00

Digital resilience combines resilience with media literacy. KEY POINTS Cognitive and emotional skills create assets that build resilience on- and offline. Digital resilience also requires media literacy to recognize and anticipate online risks. Every opportunity to learn and practice adds to a child’s resiliency “toolbox,” and parents can play a big role. Digital resilience is the confidence that you can cope with things that may go wrong online. It has three parts: 1) the knowledge about how to judge events and recognize risks online, 2) the self-confidence gained from experience and observing others, and 3) the practical and emotional skills that enable coping [...]

8 Ways to Build a Digitally Resilient Kid2022-08-24T10:28:44-07:00

The Appeal and Danger of Anonymous Messaging Apps Like NGL

2022-08-26T16:25:29-07:00

NGL (Not Gonna Lie) is a tool that lets users anonymously judge others. KEY POINTS NGL is the latest anonymous messaging app and piggybacks on Instagram’s popularity with teens aged 13 and up. The lack of accountability from anonymity can provide immunity for bad behavior. In practice, anonymity encourages haters, bullies and trolls as previous apps have shown. Teens’ self-appraisal is especially vulnerable to negative feedback. NGL (Not Gonna Lie) is the latest in a long line of anonymous messaging apps. This one lets users receive anonymous messages through an NGL link on their Instagram bio or stories. Anonymity [...]

The Appeal and Danger of Anonymous Messaging Apps Like NGL2022-08-26T16:25:29-07:00

Depp v. Heard: Why Depp Won the Battle of Archetypes

2022-06-06T09:59:00-07:00

Many fans redeemed Depp as a tarnished hero and cast Heard as the evil Medusa. Key points Archetypal patterns quickly cast Depp and Heard’s roles. Already condemned by cancel culture, Depp chose to challenge Heard publicly. The trial underscored how pervasive gender stereotypes influence perceptions of behavior. Johnny Depp has emerged as the victor in the infamous Depp vs. Heard trial. Many Depp fans are ecstatic, their commitment to Depp gratified by an official ruling. Heard fans are disappointed but primarily because of the potential fallout on the issue of domestic abuse. Advocates worry that the #MeToo movement has suffered [...]

Depp v. Heard: Why Depp Won the Battle of Archetypes2022-06-06T09:59:00-07:00

Why “Good Vibes Only” Creates Bad Vibes

2022-05-31T09:37:22-07:00

Toxic positivity is positive thinking at its worst KEY POINTS Kids are drawn to apps where they can connect easily with friends without being spied on by parents. Social media apps are designed to be psychologically engaging. It’s what makes them fun and hard to put down. Social media use can be positive and negative. How you use it matters. Critical thinking skills and open communication at home can keep kids safe while having fun online. Tired of “good vibes only” on social media? There’s always value in a positive outlook, but when it’s “only,” it becomes toxic. Toxic [...]

Why “Good Vibes Only” Creates Bad Vibes2022-05-31T09:37:22-07:00

Depp vs. Heard: Can Justice Prevail Amid Toxic Stans and Memes?

2022-05-05T22:35:44-07:00

Trial by social media, with irreparable consequences. On April 11, 2022, the courtroom drama of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard began and their tumultuous, extravagant, and mutually-abusive relationship played out across traditional and social media. However ugly the testimony, though, it's nothing compared to what is happening on social media. The public testimonies are fueling much meaner ones on social media, where stans (stalkers-plus-fans) have taken to platforms with unbelievable vitriol, ranging from insults to death threats. Johnny Depp has always had a lot of enthusiastic fans—even with all the controversy that has followed him. His Instagram account has [...]

Depp vs. Heard: Can Justice Prevail Amid Toxic Stans and Memes?2022-05-05T22:35:44-07:00

What Parents Want to Know About Snapchat and Kids

2022-05-04T21:24:41-07:00

Q&A: Critical thinking skills and open communication can keep kids safe online. KEY POINTS Kids are drawn to apps where they can connect easily with friends without being spied on by parents. Social media apps are designed to be psychologically engaging. It’s what makes them fun and hard to put down. Social media use can be positive and negative. How you use it matters. Critical thinking skills and open communication at home can keep kids safe while having fun online. The questions I hear from parents show deep concerns about kids and social media use — especially post-pandemic. Snapchat [...]

What Parents Want to Know About Snapchat and Kids2022-05-04T21:24:41-07:00
Go to Top