Sarah Coyne

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Professor of Human Development

Brigham Young University
Personal Website

What are you currently working on?
Project M.E.D.I.A. (Media Effects on Development from Infancy to Adolescence). This is a longitudinal study on the long-term impact of media on developmental outcomes. We hope to understand the precursors in early and middle childhood to developing a pathological use of media later in life. We are on Wave 6 this next summer and it’s been an adventure

What has been your most memorable project so far, and why?
My project on Disney Princesses. It was inspired by my daughter who LOVED princesses when she was age 3 (she is now 14!) It was a fun study to do and resulted in a lot of fun opportunities. I also received BY FAR the most hate mail from this line of research. Who knew princesses were so controversial? I’m still trying to convince my department chair to fund a trip to Disneyland for “research purposes” but it hasn’t happened yet.

Which achievement are you most proud of, and why?
This is a hard one! I think the fact that I’ve had FIVE kids and made it through the tenure/full professor process without an ounce of coffee is something to be proud of! Ha!

What is an important question from parents and practitioners that we as academics cannot provide a good answer to yet?
Who is most at risk for having negative outcomes after engaging with social media? I think we are moving to this person centered approach, but there are still so many unanswered questions here.

What would be your work motto?
“If you stick to what you love – and work like a dog – you WILL succeed” (Harriet the Spy)

 Which of your publications is your favorite, and why?
Coyne, S. M., Archer, J., & Eslea, M. (2004). Cruel intentions on television and in real life:  Can viewing indirect aggression increase viewers’ subsequent indirect aggression? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 88, 234-253.

So this was my very first publication and the foundation of my PhD. I worked SO hard on it. I wrote an original script for the different media conditions, recruited my friends to be actors, filmed and edited each clip, and then went in to British secondary schools to show them. The kids LOVED me because of my American accent and asked me a million questions. The most common ones – “Are you a cheerleader? Do you have a gun? Do you know Justin Timberlake?” When I submitted this, there was one review that was brutal and called it “everything that was wrong with social psychology”. I went into the bathroom and cried for an hour. The editor came back and told me to ignore that review, chastised the reviewer, and ended up accepting the paper for publication! It launched my career and I’ll be forever grateful for that study!

If you had unlimited resources, what kind of project would you want to do and why?
Expanded Project MEDIA to an international level. I would love to do this in multiple cultures.

If you had to give one piece of advice to young CAM scholars, what would it be?
Seek balance in your life. Yes, work hard, but don’t forget to play. Burnout is very common in this line of work and living a whole, full life will help reduce that burnout. I personally recommend singing and dancing in community theater! 😊