Scholars have spent a full century investigating the influence of mediated and fictional images and stories on real human beings. For at least four decades researchers have empirically investigated the role of perceived realism in narrative experiences, most recently in narrative persuasion research (e.g., Green, 2004). Despite considerable empirical evidence linking perceived realism to important outcome measures, scholars continue to debate the construct’s dimensional structure (e.g., Cho, Shen, & Wilson, 2014) and its basic conceptual nature (e.g., Shapiro & Kim, 2012).
In this talk it will be argued that readers and audience members rarely consciously think about a story’s realism, and only slightly more often think about its un-realism. It will be suggested that our understanding of perceived realism should originate from research into humans’ perceptions and judgments about actual people and events rather than fictional ones. Such an approach, it will be argued, suggests that the accepted notion of perceived realism overly vague, hinders development of more useful constructs, and is at least partly a measurement artifact. Finally, alternative conceptualizations and operationalizations will be offered for improving our understanding of why stories sometimes fail to engage and influence audiences.
About Rick Busselle
Rick Busselle (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Telecommunication at Bowling Green State University (Ohio, USA). He also is currently Co-Editor of Media Psychology.
His research investigates the relations between narrative experiences and perceptions of people and problems in the actual world. Specifically, he is interested in the notion of realism, the extent to which media consumers perceive fictional people and events differently from their real world counterparts, and the role perceived realism plays in narrative experiences and narrative persuasion.
Busselle has a B.S. in Journalism. He has produced television news, worked in motorsports as freelance videographer, produced corporate promotional videos, and spent 15 years in the Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.
His research has been published in Communication Theory, Communication Research, Media Psychology, and The Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, among other scholarly journals and academic proceedings.
He has served on the editorial boards of The Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Media Psychology, and The Journal of Media Psychology.