MEDIA IMPACT is evident worldwide, affecting people of all ages and from all cultures. News media provides information about the world around us, and entertainment media offers insight into our hopes, dreams, fears, and more. The media we read, watch, and listen to shape how we look at our lives and think about the society we live in.

At the heart of all media lies a story – a narrative. My research explores how different aspects of a narrative convey different kinds of information to its audience.

Current Projects

The Netflix Effect

Ms. Pauley’s binge effects theory states that binge watching greatly diminishes the potential for narrative persuasion in viewers. She conducted a longitudinal laboratory experiment with 144 participants to examine this effect and found evidence supporting this claim. Participants who binged the material were just as likely as weekly watchers to report a change in the triggered attitudes; however, this effect remained in weekly watchers but disappeared in binge watchers after only a few weeks.

Accumulative Effects of TV Stereotypes

Prior research shows that continued exposure to stereotype-based characters in shows and films enforces this stereotype in the real world. In a nationwide survey of over 1000 adults, Ms. Pauley found evidence that accumulated exposure to these stereotypes across multiple shows over time may also influence policy attitudes related to these stereotypes.

Mediated Interparty Contact

The theory of mediated intergroup contact claims that positive exposure to outgroup members as film and TV characters can decrease anxiety and prejudice toward outgroups in real life. In a focus group study of narrative persuasion where participants were exposed to an episode of the TV show The Bold Type that depicted two friends arguing over gun rights and gun control, Ms. Pauley noticed effects similar to those of mediated intergroup contact. In this paper, she reflects that mediated intergroup contact, typically studied with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, may extend to interparty conflict.

Humanizing Frames of TV “Villains”

In contemporary entertainment media, the villains are not always just “bad.” Many films, shows, and even video games provide a backstory for their antagonist. In a laboratory experiment showing two versions of a clip from the show “Homeland,” Ms. Pauley finds that these humanzing frames do not eliminate negative feelings toward a specific villain character. However, they can influence policy attitudes and mediate beliefs about related stereotypes in viewers.

Academic Citations

  • Pauley, Alexandra C. Expected 2020. “The Netflix Effect: How Binge-Watching Episodic Dramas Influences Political Attitudes and Perceptions of Marginalized Peoples.” Dissertation under the advisement of Drs. Lakeyta Bonnette-Bailey (Chair), Sarah Gershon, Judd Thornton, and Anthony Lemieux.
  • Pauley, Alexandra C. 2015. “TV to Talking Point: How Frames in Entertainment Television Persuade Public Opinion.” Master’s Non-thesis under the advisement of Drs. Toby Bolsen (Chair) and Lakeyta Bonnette-Bailey.

Photo by Lukas on

Methods Training

Political scientist by training, Ms. Pauley conducts research in political communications and media effects. She uses a mixed-methods approach in her research. Ms. Pauley is most adept at designing lab and field experiments, and she excels in creating and conducting focus groups, surveys, and substantive content analysis. She has 5+ years experience analyzing quantitative and qualitative data. Ms. Pauley excels in experiment design and writing IRB applications.


  • OLS Regression
  • Difference of Means Tests
  • SPSS


  • Experiment Design
  • Survey Design
  • SONA
  • Qualtrics


  • Focus Groups
  • Substantive Content Analysis

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