Current Research Projects

Professor Riddle’s Projects:

Coping Strategies Experiment
This project focuses on children’s exposure to violent and disturbing images on the television news. The overarching goal of this research is to determine effective coping strategies parents can use to calm children who have been frightened or upset by something disturbing they have seen in the news.

Lifetime Television Exposure (LTE) scale
The LTE scale was designed to tap into long-term memory processes in order to determine one’s television viewing habits during childhood. Ongoing research is being conducted in order to test the validity of this scale, and to explore the relationship between television viewing during childhood and outcomes during adulthood.

Memories of Frightening News Stories Seen During Childhood
This research project focuses on adults’ memories for frightening news stories they saw on the news as a child. Emphasis is placed on coping strategies used and perceived effectiveness.


Professor Kirkorian’s Projects:

Interactive vs. Non-Interactive Video 
These studies explore young children’s learning from interactive versus non-interactive video. Interactivity is manipulated using touchscreen devices.

Online Processing of Video 
These studies explore whether there are age differences in online processing of screen media (e.g., visual attention to video as measured by eye movements) and whether such differences predict screen-based learning.

Impact of Television on Toy Play and Parent-Child Interaction
This research emphasizes the distinction between foreground television (i.e., programs to which children pay substantial attention, often child-directed) and background television (i.e., programs to which children pay little attention, often designed for older viewers). These laboratory experiments investigate the impact of background and foreground television on toy play and parent-child interaction in infants and. Current studies explore the specific features of television that are most likely to have an impact on toddlers’ toy play.


Professor Mares’s Projects:

Learning about non-Anglo cultures from educational TV 
This series of studies examines 3-5 year olds’ judgments about what is real and what is pretend in TV programs that are intended, in part, to teach them about other cultures (e.g., Dora the Explorer).  The series of experiments examine age differences in erroneous acceptance of fantasy content, erroneous rejection of factual content, and the implications for children’s learning and beliefs about other cultures.

Effects and interpretations of prosocial messages
This series of experiments examines children’s interpretations of media messages intended to teach lessons about tolerance and inclusiveness, and the features of content that can facilitate comprehension and positive outcomes.  An upcoming study will examine the effects of explicit prosocial messages versus priming of positive emotions on children’s altruistic behaviors.

Tween TV:  Effects of relational aggression on young viewers 
“Teen scene” TV programs, designed to be aspirational viewing for tween audiences, often depict hostile and manipulative adolescent peer relationships. Two papers have examined the implications of exposure to such content for elementary school children’s beliefs about peer interactions in middle school and their reasoning about social exclusion. An ongoing study (with Professor Nicole Martins at Indiana University) examines how children identify with the aggressors and victims in tween TV depictions.


Joanne Cantor’s Projects:

Fusion Science Theater National Training and Dissemination Program 
We have shown that principles of theater can be used to make informal science education more educational and more engaging for children as well as making children more interested in learning science. We are currently studying the feasibility of training college students and museum professionals to perform these shows successfully as well. (Funded by the National Science Foundation).

Media Violence Archive 
We are updating a Media Violence Archive that seeks to make the ever-growing literature on media violence effects available and accessible to stakeholders outside of academia, particularly public health officials, people who work in criminal justice, and the media by searching systematically through the PsycInfo database using the same search terms used by Bushman and Anderson (2001) in their seminal meta-analysis. (Funded by the Center for Successful Parenting)