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Cynthia Hoffner


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


Cynthia Hoffner’s work focuses on psychological aspects of media uses and effects. Topics she studies include media and mental health, the role of emotion in media selection and response, emotion regulation via media technologies, and parasocial relationships with media figures. Currently she is working on several studies examining media and mental illness stigma, including celebrity mental health disclosures. Much of her research is conducted in collaboration with graduate students.

Prof. Hoffner’s research appears in communication and psychology journals, including Health Communication; Stigma and Health; Psychology of Popular Media Culture; New Media & Society; Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking; Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media; Journal of Communication; Media Psychology; Communication Research; and Human Communication Research. She recently received a grant from The Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society, to study celebrity disclosures of mental illness. Currently she serves on the editorial boards of seven academic journals.

At the undergraduate level, Prof. Hoffner teaches Media Theory, Media Ethics & Society, and Foundations of Media Research. At the graduate level, she regularly teaches several core seminars, including: Media, Individuals and Society; Media Uses & Effects; and Quantitative Research Methods. She also has taught a variety of special topics seminars, including: New Media Psychology; Media Stereotypes, Stigma & Health; Media and Emotion; and Media and Youth.


Hoffner, C. A., & Park, S. (in press). Carrie Fisher’s mental health advocacy. In L. Mizejewski & T. D. Zuk (Eds.), Our blessed rebel queen: Essays on Carrie Fisher. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

Hoffner, C. A. (in press). Responses to celebrity mental health disclosures: Parasocial relations, evaluations, and perceived media influence. In L. Lippert, R. Hall, A. Miller-Ott, & D. C. Davis (Eds.) Communicating mental health: History, concepts, & perspectives. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Hoffner, C. A., & Cohen, E. L. (2018). A comedic entertainment portrayal of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Responses by individuals with anxiety disorders. Stigma and Health, 3, 159-169.

Hoffner, C. A., & Cohen, E. L. (2018). Mental health-related outcomes of Robin Williams’ death: The role of parasocial relations and media coverage in stigma, outreach and help-seeking. Health Communication, 33, 1573-1582.

Rössler, P. (Ed.), Hoffner, C. A., (Associate Ed.) & Van-Zoonen, E. A. (Associate Ed.) (2017). International encyclopedia of media effects, Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4 (Four volume encyclopedia within the ICA-Wiley series of sub-disciplinary encyclopedias). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hoffner, C., Fujioka, Y., Cohen, E., & Atwell Seate, A. (2017). Perceived media influence, mental illness stereotyping, and responses to news coverage of a mass shooting. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 6, 159-173.

Cohen, E. L., & Hoffner, C. (2016). Finding meaning in a celebrity’s death: The relationship between parasocial attachment, grief, and sharing educational health information related to Robin Williams on social network sites. Computers in Human Behavior (Special Issue: #SocialMedia), 65, 643-650.

Hoffner, C. A., Lee, S., & Park, S. (2016). “I miss my mobile phone!”: Self-expansion via mobile phone and responses to phone loss. New Media & Society, 18, 2452 –2468.

Hoffner, C. A., & Lee, S. (2015). Mobile phone use, emotion regulation, and well-being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 18, 411-416.

Hoffner, C. A., & Cohen, E. L. (2015). Portrayal of mental illness on the TV series Monk: Presumed influence and consequences of exposure. Health Communication, 30, 1046-1054.