Fifth Brown Bag of the Semester – April 3, 2015


Rachelle Pavelko, PhD Student, and Jessica Gall Myrick, Assistant Professor, Media School

That’s so OCD: The effects of disease trivialization via social media on user perceptions and impression formation

Informal discussions of mental illness take place every day in social media. In the case of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), in particular, widespread use of the hashtag “#OCD” indicates that social media users often trivialize the disease. The present study used a 3 × 2 × 2 between-subjects fully factorial online experiment (N = 574, recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform) to test the impact of trivialized framing of this disease on perceptions of social media users who employ such language, as well as on perceptions of people with OCD as a group. Additionally, this study tested the effects of the gender of the Twitter avatar and self-identification in the avatar biography as an individual with OCD on these perceptions. Three-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) assessed the impact of the manipulations (i.e., content frame, gender of the avatar, self-identification with OCD). Results indicate that language use, gender, and self-identification influence impression formation in a social media environment.


Teresa Lynch, PhD Student, Jessica Thompkins, PhD Student, Irene van Driel, PhD Student, and Niki Fritz, MA Student, Media School

 An analysis of female game characters over time

A well-documented gender imbalance exists in the professional and fan culture of video gaming. For instance, women comprised only 22% of employees in the video game industry in 2014 and women report frequent instances of sexual harassment when playing online games. Critics have argued that one consequence of this gender imbalance is that male interests have guided the creation of video game content for over two decades. This presentation will share the results of an analysis of in-game content from video games released between 1983 and 2014 (n = 571). Analyzing content over time allowed us to determine how closely patterns of female character portrayals align with recent feminist movements in the industry (e.g. #1reasonwhy). These findings complement earlier analyses of video games by examining variables such as sexualization over time and expand on previous work in this area by considering the in-game, playable character as a unit of analysis.