Mary Beth Oliver

Media Studies

Mary Beth Oliver

Distinguished Professor, Co-Director of Media Effects Research Laboratory


  • Emotional And Cognitive Effects Of Media
  • Media Portrayals
  • Media Violence
  • Reality Television
  • Stereotyping


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



Mary Beth Oliver specializes in media and psychology, focusing on both the psychological effects of media and on viewers' attraction to or enjoyment of media content. Her work focuses on media and social cognition, and on media and emotion. Her research interests include media entertainment, media and stereotyping, and positive media psychology.

Oliver is co-editor with Jennings Bryant on the third edition of "Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research," with Art Raney on "Media and Social Life," and with Robin Nabi on "Media Processing and Effects." Her work has appeared in such journals as the Journal of Communication, the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Communication Research, Human Communication Research, and Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, among others.

Oliver is a Fulbright Scholar, Fellow of the International Communication Association, and is a co-PI on a multi-year grant from the Templeton Foundation to study inspiring media messages.


In the News


Edited Books

Reinecke, L., & Oliver, M. B. (under contract). 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.

Journal Articles (Since 2010)

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

Slater, M.D, Appel, M., & Oliver, M. B. (in press). Poignancy and mediated wisdom of experience: Narrative impacts on willingness to accept delayed rewards. Communication Research.

Janicke, S. H., & Oliver, M. B. (in press). The relationship between elevation, connectedness and compassionate love in meaningful films. Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

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. 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). 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

Book Chapters and Parts of Books (Since 2010)

Oliver, M. B., Bailey, E., Ferchaud, Arienne, & Yang, C. (forthcoming). Entertainment effects: Media appreciation. In Hoffner, C. (Ed.), International encyclopedia of media effects. Wiley

Oliver, M. B. (forthcoming). Personality and exposure to communication. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), Concise encyclopedia of Communication. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Oliver, M. B., & Woolley, J. K. (2015). Meaningfulness and entertainment: Fiction and reality in the land of evolving technologies. In H. Wang (Ed.), Communication and the “good life,” (pp. 45-60). New York: Peter Lang.

Shade, D. Kim, K., Jung, E-H, & Oliver, M. B. (2015). Using the “new directions” to move media viewers in the right directions: Examining the effects of Glee narratives on attitudes and behavioral intentions toward stigmatized groups. In B. C. Johnson and D. K. Faill (Eds.), ‘Glee’ and new directions for social change (pp. 3-18). Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Oliver, M. B., Hoewe, J., Ash, E., Kim, K., Chung, M. Y., & Shade, D. (2014). Media and social groups. In M. B. Oliver & A. Raney (Eds.), Media and social life (pp. 81-98). New York: Routledge.

Oliver, M. B., Bartsch, A., & Hartmann, T. (2014). Negative emotions and the meaningful sides of media entertainment. In W. G. Parrott (Ed.) The Positive Side of Negative Emotions (pp. 224-246). Gilford, New York.

Oliver, M. B., Woolley, J. K., & Limperos, A. M. (2013). Effects. In P. Cobley & P. Schultz (Eds.), Handbooks of communication science: Vol. 1. Theories and models of communication (pp. 411-424). Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter Mouton.

Oliver, M. B., Ash, E., & Woolley, J. K. (2012). The experience of elevation: Responses to media portrayals of moral beauty. In R. Tamborini (Ed.) Media and moral mind (pp. 93-108). Routledge, NY.

Oliver, M. B., Bae, K., Ash, E., & Chung, M. Y. (2012). New developments in analyses of crime and fear. In M. Morgan, J. Shanahan, & N. Signorielli. (Eds.), Living with television now: Advances in cultivation theory & research (pp. 17-37). Peter Lang, New York.

Schramm, H., & Oliver, M. B. (2012). Entertainment and emotions. In F. Esser, & T. Hanitzsch (Eds.), Handbook of comparative communication research (pp. 370-381). New York: Routledge.

Oliver, M. B., & Woolley, J. K. (2010). Tragic and poignant entertainment: The gratifications of meaningfulness. In K. Döveling, C. von Scheve, & E. Konijn (Eds.), Handbook of emotions and mass media (pp. 134-147). New York: Routledge.


Mary Beth Oliver
210 Carnegie Building
University Park, PA 16802