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Cynthia Hoffner


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1988


Cynthia Hoffner’s academic work focuses on psychological aspects of media uses and effects.  Topics she studies, from a social science perspective, include the role of emotion in media selection and response, parasocial relationships with media figures, the presumed influence of media messages, and issues related to media, mental health, and well-being.  She is also interested in the uses and consequences of new media technologies. Currently she is working on several studies examining media and mental illness stigma.  Much of her research is conducted in collaboration with graduate students.

Hoffner’s research appears in communication and psychology journals, including Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Media Psychology, Human Communication Research, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Communication Monographs, Motivation and Emotion, Child Development, and Developmental Psychology.  She won outstanding dissertation awards from both the International Communication Association and the National Communication Association.  Currently she is co-editor of the journal Media Psychology, and serves on the editorial boards of four other academic journals.

Hoffner regularly teaches several core graduate seminars, including: Media, Individuals and Society; Media Uses & Effects; and Quantitative Research Methods.  In addition, she has taught a variety of special topics seminars, including: New Media: Psychological and Social Issues; Media and Emotion; New Media and Youth; and Intersection of Media and Interpersonal Communication.  She is fascinated by psychological and social aspects of media, and loves to discuss research topics with students and colleagues!


Hoffner, C. A., & Cohen, E. L. (in press, 2012). Short-term and enduring consequences of fright.In E. Scharrer (Ed.), Media effects/media psychology. Boston, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hoffner, C., &Rehkoff, R. A. (2011). Young voters’ responses to the 2004 U.S. presidential election: Social identity, perceived media influence, and behavioral outcomes. Journal of Communication, 61, 732-757.

Hoffner, C., & Cohen, E. (2010, November). Responses to the TV series Monk: Presumed media influence and personal experience with mental illness.  Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association, San Francisco, CA.

Tian, Q., & Hoffner, C. (2010). Parasocial interaction and identification with liked, neutral and disliked characters. Mass Communication & Society, 13, 250-269.

Hoffner, C. (2009). Affective responses and exposure to frightening films: The role of empathy and different types of content.Communication Research Reports, 26, 285-296.

Hoffner, C., Fujioka, Y., Ye, J., & Ibrahim, A. (2009). Why we watch: Factors affecting exposure to tragic television news. Mass Communication & Society, 12, 193-216.

Hoffner, C., & Ye, J. (2009). Young adults’ responses to news about sunscreen and skin cancer: The role of framing and social comparison. Health Communication, 24, 189-198.

Hoffner, C. (2008). Parasocial and online social relationships.In S. L. Calvert & B. J. Wilson (Eds.), Handbook of children, media, and development (pp. 309-333).Boston, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.