Media to Inspire | Keynote Speakers
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Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Mary Beth Oliver


Mary Beth Oliver is a distinguished professor and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Penn State University. Her work is in media psychology, with an emphasis on media and emotion and media and social cognition. Over the last decade her focus has been on positive media psychology, with her studies examining meaningful media and uses of media for purposes of reducing prejudice and stigmatization and for enhancing connectedness.


Keynote Title: Media, Inspiration, and Connectedness: Boundaries, Challenges, and Future Directions
Abstract: A growing body of scholarship has demonstrated that media have the power to elicit self-transcendent affect that enhances a wide variety of prosocial outcomes. Media-inspired self-transcendence can motivate us toward social good, can heighten altruism and compassion, and can make salient our connection with others and with the universe. While media scholars continue to amass additional means by which inspiring media can serve prosocial causes and to identify the mechanism that are consequential in leading to such outcomes, it is important that we be cognizant of boundaries and challenges that such efforts may face. This talk will grapple with content- and audience-related issues that scholars and activists may encounter when trying to use inspiring media to enhance connectedness, and will overview ongoing research on using affordances of emerging technologies to harness positive outcomes.


Video of keynote: Forthcoming

Alan Page Fiske


Alan Fiske is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a psychological anthropologist studying how natural selection, neurobiology, ontogeny, psychology, and culture jointly shape human sociality. His research aims to understand what enables humans to coordinate in often cooperative, complex, culturally and historically varying systems of social relations. He studies social and moral cognition, motives and emotion; relationship-constitutive actions, experiences, and communications; motivations for violence; interpretations of misfortune and death; and links between psychopathology and social relationships. His current research focuses on the emotion often called being moved or touched with his colleagues in the Kama Muta Lab.


Keynote title: When Love Ignites: The Warm Heart, Goosebumps, and Joyful Tears of Kama Muta
Abstract: Abrupt changes in social motives are experienced as emotions. In particular, sudden intensification of a communal sharing (CS) relationship is felt as an emotion we call “kama muta” (Sanskrit ‘moved by love’). People experience kama muta (KM) when CS relationships suddenly intensify, for example, when seeing the first ultrasound of their baby, when the baby is born, in reunions, when receiving a great kindness, at patriotic and memorial ceremonies, when feeling a deity’s love, watching Pixar movies, or when seeing someone else experience KM. People also feel kama muta in response to some oratory, marketing, literature, music, dance; when winning a medal or award; when receiving a great kindness; and when feeling the support of an addition recovery group. When KM is intense, people typically have a warm or other pleasant fuzzy feeling in the center of the chest, cry, get goosebumps, or get choked up. They may take a deep breath or say awww. When the emotion is strong, people often feel buoyant (light) and exhilarated. KM is a very positive experience that people seek out and eagerly share with friends and family. Consequently, a great many institutions, practices, narratives, and artifacts have culturally evolved to evoke KM; they are prominent in a diverse cultures across history. KM is easy to evoke in the lab and we have evoked it in over 80 experiments with over 10,000 participants in 19 nations in 15 languages. For example, we found that one set of participants’ averaged judgments of the closeness of characters in a video at each moment predict with astounding precision four other sets of participants’ averaged ratings at the same moment of, respectively, being moved or touched, tears, warm feelings in the chest, and goosebumps.


Video of keynote: Forthcoming

Robin Nabi


Robin Nabi is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests focus on the interplay between emotion and cognition in understanding the effects of mediated messages. Specific interests include the effects of discrete emotions on the cognitive processing and persuasive effect of social issue/health messages, the role of emotion in perception of risk and decision-making, and the effects of entertainment media on attitude and behavior change.


Keynote title: Infusing Hope into Media Research: Observations and Opportunities
Abstract: Despite abundant evidence of the psychological, physiological, and social benefits of hope, the integration of hope in media research is still in its infancy. This talk will first overview conceptualizations of hope and its psychosocial benefits followed by a summary of how hope has been integrated into media research thus far. The critical role that media can play in generating hope in a range of contexts–coping with trauma, generating health behaviors, inspiring social change–will be highlighted.


Video of keynote: Forthcoming

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