The Media Effects Research Laboratory housed in the College of Communications at Penn State is a facility dedicated to conducting empirical research on the psychological effects of communication technologies and media psychology. Several experimental studies involving hundreds of subjects have been conducted in the lab since its opening in 1997. Experiments have been executed by faculty as well as undergraduate and graduate students taking classes in media effects, psychological aspects of communication technologies, and introduction to communication research method.
Experiments with television and computers in the Traditional Wing have tested the effects of structural features such as modality, and psychological outcomes of various content. More recently, research in this lab has also tested various psychological effects of video game play. Experiments in the New Media Wing have involved studying the effects of animation on websites, loading time of websites on subjects' attention, arousal, memory, content perception, effects of content on stimulation of stereotypical thoughts, emotional and cognitive responses to media entertainment, media violence, reality-based television programs, gender and media, and media portrayals of racial groups and the effects of such portrayals on viewers' racial attitudes.
In addition to providing a physical space for conducting controlled experiments, the Media Effects Research Laboratory acts as a resource facility for researchers conducting experiments and surveys in all aspects of media effects. The lab also serves as an impetus for effects researchers to collaborate and share results and ideas. The lab helps prepare and pretest stimuli, and its personnel offer assistance in designing experiments and questionnaires.