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 Proposed Social Media Bans Won’t Keep Your Kids Safe


Social media bans ignore the need for digital literacy and self-regulation KEY POINTS Proposed legal bans on social media for kids are based on moral panics, not research. The preoccupation with social media use ignores the needed skills to safely navigate the digital world. Not only will the laws be difficult to enforce but verification proposals raise serious privacy issues for sensitive information. Lawmakers could help kids more by funding digital literacy programs. Politicians can't get their pens out fast enough to draft laws to regulate social media use by kids. Advertised as "child protection" laws, the proposed bans [...]

Why Proposed Social Media Bans Won’t Keep Your Kids Safe2023-05-05T03:55:09-07:00

Why Were We Glued to the Murdaugh Murders?


Wealth, murder and abuse of privilege; the true crime story with a moral. Key Points The Murdaugh case has had the appeal of true crime, amplified by wealth and privilege. True crime can increase perceptions of efficacy by providing strategies for protection and survival. The guilty verdict after the trial elicited cheers, confirming the "just world hypothesis," that bad deeds are punished. Between true crime documentaries, TV shows, podcasts, and the sleuthing of “internet detectives,” people can’t seem to get enough true crime. While several real-life murder mysteries have captured our attention, few stories have the deception, wanton disregard, and jaw-dropping plotlines of the [...]

Why Were We Glued to the Murdaugh Murders?2023-03-07T16:03:24-08:00

ChatGPT: Why Is It Making People So Nervous?


AI is here to stay. Rather than fear it, we need to learn how to use it. Key Points ChatGPT gained 57 million users in the first month and now has well over 100 million users globally. Potential positives of ChatGPT use include brainstorming, quick research, language translations, support for special needs, and entertainment. Potential negatives of ChatGPT use are lack of critical thinking, plagiarism, bullying, misinformation, and dependence on technology. ChatGPT is the new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot developed by OpenAI that can write essays, solve complex problems, compose song lyrics, do homework, and more. It has launched a new moral panic as [...]

ChatGPT: Why Is It Making People So Nervous?2023-03-01T11:25:39-08:00

Why Christmas Movies Make Us Feel Good


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


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?


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


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


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


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


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
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