IM PhD Research Series: Jonathan Cohen: Why do we Identify with Fictional Characters? The Determinants of Character Identification and its Role in Narrative Persuasion

Posted on: April 20, 2017

Jonathan Cohen | University of Haifa
Stories have been shaping worldviews, beliefs and attitudes throughout human history. Current theories explaining the persuasive power of narratives accord a central role to the tendency of listeners, readers and viewers to identify with story characters. Much research has shown that this tendency leads to a host of powerful psychological effects from the expansion of one’s worldview, to empathic experiencing of the emotions of others, from decreased reactance through increased efficacy and vulnerability, to modeling of attitudes and behaviors. But what determines identification with characters? What makes identification with some characters intense and with others mild? What makes us identify with one character more than wit another within the same story? This talk will focus on this less researched topic: the determinants of identifying with narrative characters.

Jonathan Cohen (Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1995) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication, University of Haifa, Israel. Currently he is a visiting scholar at Temple University. His research and teaching focus on narrative persuasion, Identification with media characters, parasocial relationship and perceptions of media influence. His recent publications on these topics have appeared such journals as the Journal of Communication, Media Psychology and Communication Research, among others.

The IMPhD Research Lecture Series is a speaker series drawn from MSU and other universities whose research is of interest to IMPhD Program faculty and students. Speakers are drawn from a mix of faculty and graduate students who have completed their coursework and are doing independent research.Jonathan-Cohen
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Date(s) - 04/20/2017
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Room 184, Communication Arts & Sciences Building

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