Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
M.A., Northern Illinois University
B.A., Wheaton College
General research on the effects of mass media. Research has included experimental work on the appeal of media violence, the effects of paranormal depictions in the media on paranormal beliefs and beliefs about science, and the effects of frightening films on emotional reactions of children and adults. Also conducting research on the "CSI effect" as well as the general impact of electronic media on interpersonal relationships and close connections. Some of this research culminated in the publication (with Dr. Will Miller) of Refrigerator Rights: Our Crucial Need for Close Connection (2008, Willow).
Representative PublicationsDecoster, J., Sparks, E.A., Sparks, J.C., Sparks, G.G., & Sparks, C.W. press (2015). Opportunistic Biases: Their Origins, Effects, and an Integrated Solution. American Psychologist. 70(6), 499-515.“Sci, Psi, and CSI: Police Officers’ and Students’ Paranormal TV Consumption, Real-Life Experience with Paranormal Phenomena, and Perceptions of Psychic Detectives,” Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 2014.“Eyewitnesses to TV Versions of Reality: The Relationship between Exposure to TV Crime Dramas and Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System,” In D.A. Macy, K.M. Ryan, & N.J. Springer (Eds.), How Television Shapes our Worldview: Media Representations of Social Trends and Change, Lexington, 2014.“Using the C-SPAN Archives to Teach Mass Communication Theory,” In R. Browning (Eds.), The C-SPAN Archives: An Interdisciplinary Resource for Discovery, Learning, and Engagement, Purdue University Press, 2014"Media Violence," In J. Bryant & M.B. Oliver (Eds.), Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research, Routledge, 2009."The Appeal of Media Violence in a Full-Length Motion Picture: An Experimental Investigation." Communication Reports, 2005."The Relationship Between Paranormal Beliefs and Religious Beliefs," Skeptical Inquirer, 2001."Investigating the Relationship Between Exposure to Television Programs that Depict Paranormal Phenomena and Beliefs in the Paranormal," Communication Monographs, 2001."Violence, Mayhem, and Horror," In D. Zillmann & P. Vorderer (Eds.), Media Entertainment: The Psychology of Its Appeal, Erlbaum, 2000.
Media Effects Research: A Basic Overview (5th Edition) Wadsworth, 2015. More information click here.
A First Look at Communication Theory (9th Edition, with Em Griffin and Andrew Ledbetter) McGraw-Hill, 2015. More information click here.
Refrigerator Rights: Our Crucial Need for Close Connection (with W. Miller), Willow, 2008. More information click here.