Marie-Louise Mares; (608) 263-2350 

My research examines how life span development affects the way we use and respond to media content.  I am always happy to get questions or comments about my studies, so feel free to contact me.  Below are some recent studies.



My research with children focuses on their responses to educational and prosocial content.


“Sheriff Callie” Effects of interactivity on children’s prosocial and socioemotional learning from TV narratives. 

(with James Bonus & Alanna Peebles)

Examines whether touch-screens that focus attention on very specific aspects of the story can improve comprehension and increase the intended prosocial behavior.

Still recruiting 3-5 year olds.  Click here for study details and sign up


“Daniel Tiger” Effects of explicit lessons and loving themes on prosocial behavior.

(with James Bonus & Alanna Peebles)

Examines separate and combined effects of prosocial lessons (helping vs. patience) and warm, loving content on children’s helping and waiting behaviors.

Analyzing data.  Check back later for results.


Fantasy-Reality Studies

A series of studies examining children’s perceptions of what is real vs. pretend in depictions of other cultures and the implications for what children learn and the extent to which their racial/ethnic attitudes are affected by exposure.


Preschoolers’ reality judgments and transfer from Sesame Street

(Bonus & Mares)

Under review.  (Abstract)


From Meta to Micro: Examining the Effectiveness of Educational TV

Examines effects on children’s racial/ethnic preferences.  (PDF)


“Vámonos Means Go, But That’s Made Up for the Show”: Reality Confusions and Learning From Educational TV

Examines learning about Hispanic and Chinese culture.  (PDF)


Effects of Sesame Street: A meta-analysis of children's learning in 15 countries





Liked characters get a moral pass:  Young viewers’ evaluations of social and physical aggression in tween sitcoms 

(Martins, Mares, Malacane, & Peebles).

In press at Communication Research. (Abstract)


Effects of conflict in tween sitcoms on US students’ moral reasoning about social exclusion.



Pessimism and anxiety:  Effects of tween sitcoms on expectations and feelings about peer relationships in school.




When meaning matters more: Media preferences across the adult life span

(Mares, Bartsch, & Bonus).  Under review.  (Abstract)


The multiple meanings of age for television content preferences



Age differences in adults’ emotional motivations for exposure to films.