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Kaitlin Fitzgerald

Kaitlin Fitzgerald
KU Leuven | ku leuven · Leuven School for Mass Communication Research

PhD

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27
Publications
12,234
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136
Citations

Publications

Publications (27)
Article
Individuation is the process by which humans form their perceptions about others based on a variety of unique attributes of the person. Psychological research finds that personal details can individuate a person, especially when they are perceived as atypical for the social category. We apply this logic to affective disposition theory to determine...
Article
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How viewers form dispositions toward narrative characters is a central question of affective disposition theory. Two routes are explained by current models: Schema activation, whereby viewers’ dispositions are based on perceived narrative role, and behavioral approbation, whereby viewers’ dispositions are based on moral approval/disapproval of beha...
Article
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In two pre-registered studies, we leveraged recent advances to disposition theory to examine whether character judgments are relative. We used a Pilot Study to develop a moral continuum of behaviors for a hypothetical television series. We referenced our established moral continuum to create behavioral sequences that represented two characters desc...
Preprint
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Media coverage often construes stories of misfortune as inspirational accounts of individuals overcoming challenges. These reports fail to address the systemic issues that have predisposed these individuals to their current situation, and may have unintended consequences when it comes to the ability to collectively address these failings as a socie...
Article
Full-text available
Restorative narratives are stories that highlight how people recover from adversity. Researchers have proposed that this storytelling approach may provide a way to share negative news without emotionally overwhelming audiences. Instead, restorative narratives may decrease the need for emotion regulation processes and as a result, increase the willi...
Article
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The current manuscript presents a study that examines contextual factors that can explain two distinct types of viewer responses to death in narratives. Using procedures developed in past research, we explore why some narrative character deaths elicit poignant, eudaimonic responses while others elicit joyful, hedonic responses. We incorporate a con...
Article
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Witnessing characters enact and receive punishment for transgressions – that is, narrative retribution – is central to affective disposition theory. Despite its centrality, a standardized set of retribution narratives is absent from the literature. The current study seeks to provide validation evidence for a set of retribution narratives used in a...
Article
Full-text available
Affective disposition theory suggests that viewers of narratives develop dispositions toward characters through various cues, including appearance and behavior. Despite its predictive utility, the theory has yet to account for an essential component of narratives: character interdependence. Extant models treat disposition formation toward individua...
Article
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In both narrative theory and evolutionary psychology, equitable-retribution—or the idea that punishments for committing a moral transgression should be equivalent to the transgression itself—is a centerpiece of discussion. This article reports results from a blocked within-subjects experiment that examined speed of cognitive processing and subjecti...
Article
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Morally ambiguous characters are often perceived to challenge Zillmann's affective disposition theory of drama. At the heart of this challenge is the question: "To what extent can liking be independent of character morality?" The current study examines this question with a 2 (Disposition: Positive vs. Negative) X 3 (Character Type: Hero, Antihero,...
Article
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The morality of observed others is a central variable for many media effects research areas, including affective disposition theory, social cognitive theory, and entertainment-education. A scale designed to measure five distinct aspects of the morality of characters is validated in a series of six studies (N = 1,204). Findings suggest that the exte...
Article
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Stories may provide a useful way of communicating about health and promoting engagement for health promotion campaigns. In this study, we examined the effectiveness of a particular type of narrative, restorative narratives (stories that highlight hope and resilience), relative to negative narratives (stories that focus on suffering or challenges)....
Article
Previous research suggests a link between perspective-taking and the tendency to become immersed in narratives or literature. We extend that research by considering both individual differences and persuasion outcomes. Specifically, Mind-Reading Motivation (MRM) is an individual difference in the willingness to effortfully engage with other people’s...
Article
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Although the effect of biases and stereotype threat on women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is well documented, less is known about how men and women attribute an undergraduate woman’s anxieties in a STEM class. We examined how undergraduate men and women perceive a woman facing emotional struggles in a physics class (S...
Article
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We propose an extension of the Distancing-Embracing model to the use of stories for prosocial ends. Specifically, audiences may find stories of individuals in need too emotionally overwhelming. Audiences may attempt to regulate or reduce negative emotions, which can reduce empathy and willingness to help. Through distancing, fictionalized accounts...
Article
Expressive autobiographical writing has generally been shown to have positive psychological effects, as well as health benefits. The current study examined whether dispositional factors moderate the emotional benefits of expressive writing about personal experiences with social bias. Participants (N = 154 undergraduate students) completed personali...
Article
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Common wisdom holds that graphic media violence leads to antisocial outcomes. This common wisdom is reflected in the Society for Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. However, theory and research regarding moral emotions’ ability to increase moral sensitivity suggests that this type of negative content may be capable of yielding prosocial respo...
Conference Paper
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This 3-study paper examines the role of character-schema activation in the process of disposition formation. Studies 1 and 2 replicate initial studies (AUTHOR)—in which we were able to activate heroic and villainous perceptions of characters based purely on appearance—and extend this research to examine the potential that heroic schema is more diff...
Article
Full-text available
Character morality is an integral variable within disposition theories. Zillmann proposed that moral judgments of characters result from a viewer monitoring and approving/disapproving of a character’s behaviors. Raney proposed a schema-based theoretical expansion of this model, wherein moral judgments of characters and disposition formation—facilit...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Despite the heated debate about how news media should handle graphic images of violence, few empirical studies have been conducted to test the responses to viewing such images. An initial study, (Author et al, 2015) showed that graphic media violence can serve as a moral motivator. The current study attempted to replicate these findings and further...

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