Research and Creative Interestsmoral psychology, race and media, media violence, cognitive science,
My program of research could broadly be described as media psychology. That is, I am interested in why people consume certain types of content and how this content affects them and my work is informed by what we know about mental processes. I have research projects currently in progress in three focus areas:
Media violence. I’m working on developing a better understanding of how and why people consume violent content. This has included an examination of several content domains, including video games, television drama, and children’s cartoons, using a variety of research methods (e.g., meta-analysis, psychophysiology, self-report, content analysis).
Recently published work in this area:
Martins, N., Weaver, A. J., Yeshua-Katz, D., Lewis, N., Tyree, N., & Jensen, J. D. (2013). A content analysis of print news coverage of media violence and aggression research. Journal of Communication, 63, 1070-1087. doi: 10.1111/jcom.12052
Matthews, N. L., & Weaver, A. J. (2013). Skill gap: Quantifying the amount and type of generated violent content in video game play between variably skilled users. Mass Communication & Society, 16, 829-846. doi: 10.1080/15205436.2013.773043
Weaver, A. J., Zelenkauskaite, A., & Samson, L. (2012). The (non)violent world of Youtube: Content trends in Web video. Journal of Communication, 62, 1065-1083.
Kobach, M., & Weaver, A. J. (2012). Gender and empathy differences in negative reactions to fictionalized and real violent images. Communication Reports, 25, 51-61.
Weaver, A. J., & Kobach, M. (2012). The relationship between selective exposure and the enjoyment of television violence. Aggressive Behavior, 38, 175-184.
Weaver, A. J. (2011). A meta-analytical review of selective exposure to and the enjoyment of media violence. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 55(2), 1-19.
Weaver, A. J., Jensen, J. D., Martins, N., Hurley, R., & Wilson, B.J. (2011). Liking violence and action: An Examination of gender differences in children's processing of animated content. Media Psychology, 14, 49-70.
Weaver, A. J. & Wilson, B. J. (2009). The role of graphic and sanitized violence in the enjoyment of television dramas. Human Communication Research, 35, 442-463.
Matthews, N. L., & Weaver, A. J. (2013, November). Not to be misconstrued: Using construal level theory to investigate the effects of narrative and avatar identification on aggression, hostility, and prosocial outcomes. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association, Washington, DC.
Moral choice in video games. My interest in the appeal of media violence has expanded into thinking about what happens in video games when players are given choices about their violent activity. This, in turn, has led to a few new research projects on moral choice in games. I’m especially interested in why players make the choices they do (e.g., are they guided by real-world moral codes, do they adopt the moral code of the narrative they’ve entered, or do they disregard morality in the game environment altogether?). I’m also interested in how the moral (or immoral) choices players make impact their enjoyment of and emotional reactions to the game. More broadly, I'm looking to apply work in moral psychology to our understanding of mediated judgments and behaviors.
Recently published work in this area:
Lewis, N., & Weaver, A. J. (in press). Emotional responses to social comparisons in reality television programming. Journal of Media Psychology. doi: 10.1027/1864-1105/a000151.
Weaver, A. J. & Lewis, N. (2012). Mirrored morality: An exploration of moral choice in video games. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15, 1-5.
Ross, T., & Weaver, A. J. (2012). Shall we play a game? How the behavior of others influences strategy selection in a multiplayer game. Journal of Media Psychology, 24, 102-112.
Weaver, A. J., Matthews, N. L., Lewis, N., & Xu, F. (2014, May). Narrative and moral perspective-taking as determinants of players’ antisocial behavior. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Seattle, WA.
Matthews, N. L., & Weaver, A. J. (in prep.). The relationship between gameplay and moral frameworks: Testing the MIME model. Manuscript in preparation.
Race and selective exposure. My third research focus involves examining the impact of the race of characters in entertainment media on selective exposure to that content. With movies in particular there seems to be an assumption that casting minority actors will cause White audiences to avoid the film. I am exploring whether that perception is accurate, and if so, why outgroup audiences would practice selective avoidance and how this effect could be overcome. I've also looked at the effects of exposure to certain types of portrayals of outgroups on audience emotions/attitudes/behaviors.
Recent published work in this area:
Hurley, R, J., Jensen, J. D., Weaver, A. J., & Dixon, T. L. (2015). Viewer ethnicity matters: Black crime in TV news and its impact on decisions regarding public policy. Journal of Social Issues, 71, 155-170. doi:10.1111/josi.12102
Kharroub, T., & Weaver, A. J. (2014). Portrayals of women in transnational Arab television drama series. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 58, 179-195. doi: 10.1080/08838151.2014.906434
Weaver, A. J. (2011). The role of actors’ race in White audiences’ selective exposure to movies. Journal of Communication, 61, 369-385.
Kharroub, T., & Weaver, A. J. (2013, November). Selective exposure and identification with fictional characters in the transnational Arab television industry. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association, Washington, DC.
Weaver, A. J. (2011, November). An examination of the potential mediators of the relationship between actors’ race and selective exposure to movies. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association, New Orleans, LA.
Weaver, A. J., & Frampton, J. (in prep.). Crossing the color line: Changing perceptions of the intended audience through social media. Manuscript in preparation.
If you’d like copies of any of the published or under review work above, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a current or prospective student interested in doing research in one of these areas, feel free to get in touch with me to discuss any of the ongoing projects.