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Marie Louise Mares

Marie Louise Mares

Professor, Department of Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin



"What does it take for media use to have positive effects?"

Research Interests

In my research on children, I am particularly interested in the possibility that television and other media can be used for positive social change, including reducing prejudice. To that end, I have been examining children's comprehension and interpretations of prosocial and educational programs and ways to make such programming more effective.

In my research on adults, I have been interested in examining what it is about aging that might cause changes in media use and effects. I am currently studying how the emotional experiences we seek out via media use vary across the adult life span.


  • 2015 Top 4 Paper Conference Theme Aging Across the Life Span, ICA
  • 2014 Top Paper Award, with Nicole Martins, Mona Macalane, and Alanna Peebles , ICA, Children and Media Division
  • 2014 Best Article Award, with Michael T. Braun , ICA, Children and Media Division
  • 2012 Fellowship , Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS)

Selected Publications

  • 2014. "“Vámonos means go, but that’s made up for the show” Preschool viewers’ interpretations of cultural depictions in TV programming." Developmental Psychology , 50, 2498-2511 .
  • 2014. "Making sense of violence: Perceived meaningfulness as a predictor of audience interest in violent media content." Journal of Communication , 64, 956-976.
  • 2013. "Effects of Sesame Street: A meta-analysis of children’s learning in 15 countries." Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology , 34, 140-151.
  • 2012. "Pessimism and anxiety: Effects of tween sitcoms on expectations and feelings about peer relationships in school." Media Psychology , 15, 121-147
  • 2010. "Teaching tolerance via TV narratives in the US: Young viewers need help with the message." Journal of Children and Media , 4, 231-242
  • 2010. "The multiple meanings of age for television viewing." Human Communication Research , 36, 372-396
  • 2008. "Age differences in adults’ emotional motivations for exposure to films." Media Psychology , 11, 377-399
  • 2008. "Be kind to three-legged dogs: Children’s literal interpretations of TV’s moral lessons." Media Psychology, 11, 377-399