Mary Beth Oliver

Media Studies

Mary Beth Oliver

Donald P. Bellisario Professor of Media Studies / Co-Director of Media Effects Research Laboratory

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  • Emotional and Cognitive Effects of Media
  • Media Portrayals
  • Media Violence
  • Reality Television
  • Stereotyping


  • Bachelor's: Virginia Tech
  • Master's: Wisconsin
  • Ph.D.: Wisconsin



Mary Beth Oliver is the Donald P. Bellisario Professor of Media studies at Penn State in the Department of Film/Video & Media Studies and Fellow and President-Elect of the International Communication Association. Her recent publications on have appeared such journals as the Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, and Communication Research, among others. She is former co-editor of Media Psychology and associate editor of the Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, and Journal of Media Psychology. She is a co-editor of several books, including Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research and co-author of the recently published Introduction to Positive Media Psychology.


In the News


Edited Books

Oliver, M. B., Raney, A. A., & Bryant, J. (Eds.) (2020). Media effects: Advances in theory and research (4th ed.), New York: Routledge.

Reinecke, L., & Oliver, M. B. (2017). Handbook of media use and well-being: International perspectives on theory and research on positive media effects. New York: Routledge.

Oliver, M. B., & Raney, A. (Eds.) (2014). Media and social life. New York: Routledge.

Nabi, R., & Oliver, M. B. (Eds.) (2009) Handbook of media processes and effects. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bryant, J., & Oliver, M. B. (Eds.) (2008). Media effects: Advances in theory and research (3rd ed.), New York: Routledge.

Co-Authored Books

Raney, A. A., Janicke-Bowles, S. H., Oliver, M. B., & Dale, K. R. (2020). Introduction to positive media psychology. New York: Routledge.

Journal Articles (Since 2010)

Oliver, M. B., Raney, A. A., Janicke-Bowles, S. H., Dale, K. R., Appel, M., & Bartsch, A. (in press). Model of media inspiration. Journal of Media Psychology.

Dale, K. R., Janicke-Bowles, S. H., Raney, A. A., Oliver, M. B., Huse, L.-K., Lopez, J., . . . Zhao, D. (2020). Awe and stereotypes: Examining awe as an intervention against stereotypical media portrayals of African Americans. Communication Studies, 71(4), 699-707.

Bartsch, A., Scherr, S., Mares, M.-L., & Oliver, M. B. (2020). Reflective thoughts about violent media content–development of a bilingual self-report scale in English and German. Media Psychology, 23(6), 794-819.

Fryburg, D. A., Ureles, S. D., Myrick, J. G., Carpentier, F. D., & Oliver, M. B. (2020). Kindness media rapidly inspires viewers and increases happiness, calm, gratitude, and generosity in a healthcare setting. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.

Dale, K. R., Raney, A. A., Ji, Q., Janicke-Bowles, S. H., Baldwin, J., Rowlett, J. T., . . . Oliver, M. B. (2020). Self-transcendent emotions and social media: Exploring the content and consumers of inspirational Facebook posts. New Media & Society, 22(3), 507-527.

Oliver, M. B., Bilandzic, H., Cohen, J., Ferchaud, A., Shade, D. D., Bailey, E. J., & Yang, C. (2019). A penchant for the immoral: Implications of parasocial interaction, perceived complicity, and identification on liking of anti-heroes. Human Communication Research, 45, 169-201. doi:10.1093/hcr/hqy019

Cohen, J., Oliver, M. B., & Bilandzic, H. (2019). The differential effects of direct address on parasocial experience and identification: Empirical evidence for conceptual difference. Communication Research Reports, 36, 78-83. doi:10.1080/08824096.2018.1530977

Ellithorpe, M. E., Huang, Y., & Oliver, M. B. (2019), Reach Across the Aisle: Elevation From Political Messages Predicts Increased Positivity Toward Politics, Political Participation, and the Opposite Political Party, Journal of Communication, 69, 249–272.

Krämer, N., Neubaum, G., Winter, S., Schaewitz, L., Eimler, S. C., & Oliver, M. B. (2019). I feel what they say: The effect of social media comments on viewers’ affective reactions toward elevating online videos. Media Psychology, 1-27. doi: 10.1080/15213269.2019.1692669

Markey, P. M., Ivory, J. D., Slotter, E. B., Oliver, M. B., & Maglalang, O. (2019). He does not look like video games made him do it: Racial stereotypes and school shootings. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. doi:

Bartsch, A., Scherr, S., Mares, M. L. & Oliver, M. B. (2019) Reflective thoughts about violent media content – development of a bilingual self-report scale in English and German, Media Psychology, doi: 10.1080/15213269.2019.1647248

Ji, Q., Janicke-Bowles, S. H., De Leeuw, R. N. H., & Oliver, M. B. (2019) The melody to inspiration: The effects of awe-eliciting music on approach motivation and positive well-being, Media Psychology, doi: 10.1080/15213269.2019.1693402

Slater, M.D, Appel, M., & Oliver, M. B. (2019). Poignancy and mediated wisdom of experience: Narrative impacts on willingness to accept delayed rewards. Communication Research. 46, 333-354. doi: 10.1177/0093650215623838

Ji, Q., Raney, A. A., Janicke-Bowles, S. H., Dale, K. R., Oliver, M. B., Reed, A., . . . Raney, A. A. (2019). Spreading the good news: Analyzing socially shared inspirational news content. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1077699018813096

Tang, Y., Dou, X., & Oliver, M. B. (2018). "Harmonious middle kingdom and dangerous beautiful country?” Exploring cultivation effects of domestic and U.S.-made tv programs on chinese college students. International Journal of Communication, 12, 4421–4442.

Bartsch, A., Oliver, M. B., Nitsch, C., & Scherr, S. (2018). Inspired by the Paralympics: Effects of empathy on audience interest in para-sports and on the destigmatization of persons with disabilities. Communication Research, 45, 525-533. doi:10.1177/0093650215626984

Rieger, D., Frischlich, L., & Oliver, M. B. (2018). Meaningful entertainment experiences and self-transcendence: Cultural variations shape elevation, values, and moral intentions. International Communication Gazette, 80, 658-676. doi:10.1177/1748048518802218

Raney, A. A., Janicke, S. H., Oliver, M. B., Dale, K. R., Jones, R. P., & Cox, D. (2018). Profiling the audience for self-transcendent media: A national survey. Mass Communication and Society, 21, 296-319. doi:10.1080/15205436.2017.1413195

Slater, M. D., Oliver, M. B., Appel, M., Tchernev, J. M., & Silver, N. A. (2017). Mediated wisdom of experience revisited: Delay discounting, acceptance of death, and closeness to future self. Human Communication Research, 44(1), 80-101.

Schneider, F. M., Bartsch, A., & Oliver, M. B. (2017). Factorial validity and measurement invariance of the appreciation, fun, and suspense scales across us-American and German samples. Journal of Media Psychology.

Das, E., Nobbe, T., & Oliver, M. B. (2017). Health communication| moved to act: Examining the role of mixed affect and cognitive elaboration in “accidental” narrative persuasion. International Journal of Communication, 11, 17.

Dale, K. R., Raney, A. A., Janicke, S. H., Sanders, M. S., & Oliver, M. B. (2017). YouTube for good: A content analysis and examination of elicitors of self-transcendent media. Journal of Communication, 67(6), 897-919.

Krämer, N., Eimler, S. C., Neubaum, G., Winter, S., Rösner, L., & Oliver, M. B. (2017). Broadcasting one world: How watching online videos can elicit elevation and reduce stereotypes. New Media & Society, 19(9), 1349-1368.

Janicke, S. H., & Oliver, M. B. (2017). The relationship between elevation, connectedness and compassionate love in meaningful films. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Advance online-publication. doi: 10.1037/ppm0000105

Downs, E., & Oliver, M. B. (2016). How can Wii learn from video games? Examining relationships between technological affordances and socio-cognitive determinates on affective and behavioral outcomes. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, Advance online publication. doi:0.4018/IJGCMS.2016010103

Oliver, M. B., Ash, E., Kim, K., Woolley, J. K., Hoewe, J., Shade, D. D., & Chung, M.-Y. (2015). Media-induced elevation as a means of enhancing feelings of intergroup connectedness. Journal of Social Issues, 71, 106-122. doi: 10.1111/josi.12099.

Oliver, M. B., Bowman, N. D., Woolley, J. K., Rogers, R., Sherrick, B. I., & Chung, M. Y. (2015). Videogames as meaningful entertainment experiences. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. doi: 10.1037/ppm0000066

Rogers, R., Bowman, N. D., & Oliver, M. B. (2015). It’s not the model that doesn’t fit, it’s the controller! The role of cognitive skills in understanding the links between natural mapping, performance, and enjoyment of console video games. Computers and Human Behavior, 49, 588–596. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.03.027

Myrick, J. G. & Oliver, M. B. (2015). Laughing and crying: Mixed emotions, compassion, and the effectiveness of a YouTube PSA about skin cancer. Health Communication, 30, 820-829, 10.1080/10410236.2013.845729.

Ellithorpe, M., Oliver, M. B., & Ewoldsen, D. (2015). Elevation (sometimes) increases altruism: Choice and number of outcomes in elevating media effects. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 4, 236-250. doi: 10.1037/ppm0000023.

Shade, D., Korfield, S., & Oliver, M. B. (2015). The Uses and Gratifications of Media Migration: Investigating the activities, motivations, and predictors of migration behaviors originating in entertainment television. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 59, 318-341. doi: 10.1080/08838151.2015.1029121.

Eden, A., Oliver, M. B., Tamborini, R., Limperos, A., & Woolley, J. K., (2015). Perceptions of moral violations and personality traits among heroes and villains. Mass Communication & Society, 18, 186-208. doi: 10.1080/15205436.2014.923462.

Tsay-Vogel, M., & Oliver, M. B. (2014). Is watching others self-disclose enjoyable? An examination of the effects of information delivery in entertainment media. Journal of Media Psychology, 26, 111-124. doi: 10.1027/1864-1105/a000116.

Oliver, M. B., Ash, E., Woolley, J. K., Shade, D., & Kim, K. (2014). Entertainment we watch and entertainment we value: Patterns of motion picture consumption and acclaim over three decades. Mass Communication & Society, 17, 853-873. doi: 10.1080/15205436.2013.872277

Bartsch, A., Kalch, A., & Oliver, M. B. (2014). Moved to think. The role of emotional media experiences in stimulating reflective thoughts. Journal of Media Psychology, 26, 125-140. doi: 10.1027/1864-1105/a000118.

Kuiken, D., & Oliver, M. B. (2013). Aesthetic engagement during moments of suffering. Scientific Study of Literature, 153, 294-321. doi: 10.1075/ssol.3.2.07kui

Kim, J. H., & Oliver, M. B. (2013). How do we regulate sadness through entertainment messages? Exploring three predictions. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 57, 374-391.

Khoo, S. G. & Oliver, M. B. (2013). The therapeutic effects of narrative cinema and emotion-processing: A re-examination of catharsis. Scientific Study of Literature, 153, 266-293. doi: 10.1075/ssol.3.2.06kho

Oliver, M. B., Dillard, J. P., Bae, K., & Tamul, D. J. (2012). The effect of narrative news format on empathy for stigmatized groups. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 89, 205-224. doi: 10.1177/1077699012439020

Oliver, M. B., Hartmann, T., & Woolley, J. K. (2012). Elevation in response to entertainment portrayals of moral virtue. Human Communication Research, 38, 360-378. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2012.01427.x

Krakowiac, K. M., & Oliver, M. B. (2012). When good characters do bad things: Examining the effect of moral ambiguity on enjoyment. Journal of Communication, 62, 117-135. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2011.01618.x

Oliver, M. B., & Raney, A. A. (2011). Entertainment as pleasurable and meaningful: Differentiating hedonic and eudaimonic motivations for entertainment consumption. Journal of Communication, 64, 984-1004. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2011.01585.x

Oliver, M. B., & Bartsch, A. (2011). Appreciation of entertainment: The importance of meaningfulness via virtue and wisdom. Journal of Media Psychology, 23, 29-33. doi: 10.1027/1864-1105/a000029

Kim, J., & Oliver, M. B. (2011). What combination of message characteristics determines hedonic and counter-hedonic preferences? An examination of the interplay between valence and semantic affinity. Media Psychology, 14, 121-143. doi: 10.1080/15213269.2011.573462

Bartsch, A., Oliver, M. B. (2011). Making sense of entertainment. On the interplay of emotion and cognition in entertainment experience. Journal of Media Psychology, 23, 12-17. doi: 10.1027/1864-1105/a000026

Woolley, J. K., Limparos, A. M., & Oliver, M. B. (2010). The 2008 presidential election, 2.0: A content analysis of user-generated political Facebook groups. Mass Communication & Society, 13, 631-652. doi: 10.1080/15205436.2010.516864

Oliver, M. B. & Hartmann, T.  (2010). Exploring the role of meaningful experiences in users’ appreciation of “good movies.” Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind, 4(2), 128-150. doi: 10.3167/proj.2010.040208

Yang, H., & Oliver, M. B. (2010). Exploring the effects of television viewing on perceived life quality: A combined perspective of material value and upward social comparison. Mass Communication & Society. 13, 118–138. doi: 10.1080/15205430903180685

Oliver, M. B., & Bartsch, A. (2010). Appreciation as audience response: Exploring entertainment gratifications beyond hedonism. Human Communication Research, 36, 53-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2958.2009.01368.x


Mary Beth Oliver
213 Carnegie Building
University Park, PA 16802