Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz

Dr. Behm-Morawitz profile photo
Professor and Chair
108 Switzler Hall

Dr. Elizabeth (Lissa) Behm-Morawitz (Ph.D., Arizona) is Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication. Dr. Behm-Morawitz takes a media psychology approach to examining the effects of media such as video games, television, social media, and virtual reality (VR). Specifically, her research examines how media influences people's perceptions and experiences of identity (e.g., gender, race, sexuality), stereotyping, prosocial behaviors, and well-being. Dr. Behm-Morawitz also studies media literacy and how identity intersects with how people perceive media messages. 

The primary aims of Dr. Behm-Morawitz’s research are to (1) improve theoretical understanding of how mediated social identities affect individuals’ cognitions and behavioral intentions, (2) explore such media effects in contemporary media (e.g., virtual and interactive) contexts, and (3) increase media industry and public awareness of the problematic as well as promising effects of media culture. Her research has been published in journals such as Computers in Human Behavior, Media Psychology, Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, and Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. 

Research Interests
  • media psychology and media effects
  • virtual reality, video games, television, film, streaming, social media
  • social identity, stereotyping, and intergroup bias
  • prosocial media effects and media literacy
  • media influence on health beliefs, behaviors, and well-being


Courses Taught

Undergraduate Courses
Media Communication in Society (COMM 2100)

Mass Media Theory (COMM 3490)

Contemporary Issues in Mass Communication (COMM 3636)
Persuasion (COMM 4474)

New Technologies and Communication (COMM 4638)

Graduate Courses
Persuasion (COMM 7474)

New Technologies and Communication (COMM 7638)
Seminar in Content Analysis (COMM 8140)

Seminar in Mediated Communication Theory (COMM 8510)
Seminar in Media Processes and Effects (COMM 9520)


Select Publications

Behm-Morawitz, E., Luisi, T., & Pennell, H. (2022). Parent-child communication about gender and race through the films Black Panther and Wonder Woman: The roles of parental mediation and media literacy. Psychology of Popular Media, 11(4), 382–394.

Behm-Morawitz, E., & Villamil, A. (2019). The roles of ingroup identification and implicit bias in assessing the effectiveness of an online diversity education program. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 47, 505-526.

Behm-Morawitz, E., Aubrey, J. S., Pennell, H., & Kim, K-B. (2019). Examining the effects of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant on adolescent girls’ sexual health: The implications of character affinity, pregnancy risk factors, and health literacy on message effectiveness. Health Communication, 34, 180-190.

Behm-Morawitz, E., Pennell, H., & Speno, A. G. (2016). The effects of virtual racial embodiment in a gaming app on reducing prejudice. Communication Monographs, 83, 396-418.

Behm-Morawitz, E., Lewallen, J., & Miller, B. (2016). Real Mean Girls? Reality television viewing, social aggression, and gender-related beliefs among female emerging adults. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5, 340-355.

Behm‐Morawitz, E. (2013). Mirrored selves: The influence of self-presence in a virtual world on health, appearance, and well-being. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 119-128.

Click, M., Aubrey, J. S., & Behm-Morawitz, E. (Eds.) (2010). Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, & the Vampire Franchise. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Behm-Morawitz, E., & Mastro, D. (2009). Effects of the sexual objectification of female characters in video games on gender stereotyping and female self-concept. Sex Roles, 6, 808‐823.

Behm-Morawitz, E., & Mastro, D. (2008). Mean girls?: The influence of gender portrayals in teen movies on emerging adults' gender-based attitudes and beliefs. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 85, 31-46.