Current Research Directions
This research examines a genre of storytelling that can be used to share stories about tragic events or chronic social issues (see ivoh.org; Fitzgerald et al., 2019, 2020). Rather than focusing exclusively on negative events, restorative narratives highlight the process of recovery following tragedy by depicting how individuals and communities persevere in the face of adversity. Notably, these stories do not minimize the challenges or struggles faced, but instead use authentic, strength-based storytelling that emphasizes progression towards a better life.
MEDIA ENJOYMENT AND APPRECIATION
Media scholars have recently differentiated two responses as unique types of positive narrative appraisal. Enjoyment is a hedonic response derived from amusement and pleasure that results in purely positive affect, whereas appreciation is a eudaimonic response that is associated with deeper, more complex themes, contemplation, and meaningfulness. My research on this topic contributes to current theorizing by examining unique narrative predictors that can distinguish the response types, including themes of retribution (the extent to which a wronged character punishes her transgressor), and the death of narrative characters. In my most recent studies, I am examining the distinctive roles of narrative enjoyment versus appreciation on narrative persuasion processes.
NARRATIVE PROCESSING AND EFFECTS
My research on narrative processing and effects has focused on what happens during narrative consumption and what happens after a narrative is consumed. I have conducted numerous studies on transportation (a state of cognitive, emotional, and imagery involvement within a narrative world), perspective-taking, emotional flow (how emotions change over the course of a story), and narrative processing. My goal in conducting this research is to offer actionable suggestions to media gatekeepers across a wide range of media domains, such as health, risk, news, and entertainment.