How Did I End Up Here??
I first discovered the field of Media Psychology and this particular Fielding program back in November of 2008, during the final week of the historic presidential election. I was visiting my grandparents in Detroit, MI that week and my father had also flown over from Portland, OR so that we could all be together to share this exciting American political event. Perhaps I should mention that my father is, in fact, a clinical psychologist who has run his own successful practice for close to 30 years now.
While we were in Detroit, he was invited to a party hosted by one of his old colleagues, whom he met during his residency. My dad asked me if I would like to go to the party with him and meet his long-time friend. I obliged. It was at this get-together that I met a woman named Michelle Horowitz (pictured at the right). During the first few minutes of our conversation, we happened to discuss the graduate program that she was currently enrolled in. As it turned out, she is a current Media Psychology student here at Fielding. As soon as she mentioned the words “media psychology”, I must admit that I was instantly intrigued. The more she told me about the field and the program, the more curious and excited I became. It appeared that I had randomly stumbled upon the perfect next step in my academic and professional career…
I got back home and immediately begin to research the Fielding program. I even scheduled an informational interview with one of the faculty members. The interview quickly confirmed for me that this was indeed the perfect program for my interests, background, and future aspirations.
My Academic & Professional Background
Fascinated by my father’s work while growing up, I begin my academic career in psychology at the University of Washington, where I received my Bachelor’s degree. While I was there, I was lucky enough to work in Elizabeth Loftus’ memory lab. Loftus is a famous forensic psychologist who has been involved in a number of high profile court cases, educating the courtroom about the fallibility of eyewitness testimony.
After finishing up in Seattle, I eventually moved down to Southern California where I happened to discover the field of User-Centered Design. This specialized area of work appeared to be the perfect way for me to continue my career in psychology but within the realms of internet and computer technology, something I had always been fascinated with and wanted to become more involved in, at least from a behavioral and interactive design standpoint. I eventually was accepted into several graduate programs across the country but ended up choosing University of California, Irvine. While there, I studied many topics involving usability, business consulting, computer-supported communications, virtual worlds, ethnography, and the philosophy of science. As I finished up my Master’s, I worked for Qualcomm and a Portland-based usability consulting firm. Eventually, however, I landed a job at IBM where I actually still work as a Senior User Experience Consultant within their interactive design consulting agency known as IBM Interactive. I really enjoy this work and I have certainly had some fantastic opportunities and interesting experiences over the years.
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Media Psychologist
In order to fully communicate my objectives as a media psychology professional, I believe it is important that I first define the field of Media Psychology in my own words:
Media Psychology is the study of how media affects people’s political and consumer-based decisions, as well as their perspectives and world view. It is the study of how media can be used to affect social change, while connecting or organizing people in new ways. It is also a discipline that looks at how media can be used to effectively inform and educate the masses. In addition, it might include, to a certain extent, the study of government/political/corporate public relations and propaganda (i.e. psy-ops), although, personally, I am more interested in how individuals or smaller citizen groups may use media to counteract or challenge such propaganda and accurately inform each other so that they can make the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities.
There are a few major areas that I have long wished I could become more involved with in my career:
- Journalism and Media
- Fitness and Holistic Nutrition
I see this Media Psychology program as an ideal vehicle to expand my career into the realm of politics, public policy, journalism, entertainment media, and/or personal health. I also view Media Psychology as a logical and fantastic extension of my current profession – User-Centered Design. In fact, inside IBM Interactive, we talk all the time about how to integrate social media effectively in order to help our clients improve their businesses and online presence.
As a future Media Psychologist, I hope to deeply explore the application of social media within government, political movements, news organizations, and preventative health. I want to discover ways to help citizens (the public at large) better and more accurately inform themselves of both local and global issues that may effect them at an individual, community, and/or societal level.
In the realm of fitness and holistic nutrition, I am interested in partnering with preventative health professionals to discover new ways to use social media in order to help people educate themselves and each other. I am motivated by a desire to provide people with better (and more trusted) resources to help them make healthier decisions surrounding food, exercise, medical care, and other lifestyle or “quality of life” decisions, so that they can live longer, happier and more fulfilling lives. I strongly believe that social media is a powerful tool that can effectively be used for this purpose, connecting individuals to each other as well as to experts who can provide them with rich perspectives, accurate information, motivation, and ongoing support.
Now you know a little bit more about myself and my goals in this program. I look forward to beginning this journey with all of you at Fielding!