headshot photo of Dr. Riva Tukachinsky

Dr. Riva Tukachinsky

Associate Professor
School of Communication; Communication Studies
Expertise: Media Effects; Media Psychology; Media Literacy; Content Analysis; Racial Stereotypes
Office Location: Doti Hall 204
Office Hours: Tue 11:15-12:45 pm, 2:15-2:45 pm, and by appt.
Phone: (714) 516-4685
Scholarly Works:
Digital Commons
Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, Bachelor of Arts
Haifa University, Master of Arts
University of Arizona, Ph.D.


Dr. Riva Tukachinsky is an assistant professor in the School of Communication. She studies media psychology, namely how individuals choose, comprehend and can ultimately be influenced by media. Her research considers the following questions:

  • Media involvement - While watching a movie or reading a novel many individuals experience powerful emotions and some even develop long-lasting, meaningful emotional connections with characters and media personae as if they were part of their social milieu. My research explores what leads to these experiences and what are their consequences (e.g., persuasion).
  • Identity and well-being - I apply the theoretical questions of media psychology to the contexts of social stereotypes and health. I am particularly interested in the examination of inter-group processes such as racial/ethnic stereotypes and group identity.

Since 2014 Dr. Tukachinsky has been working with students on offering a bilingual (English/Spanish) media literacy program to the community. Students participate in a service learning course in which they work with parents/caregivers and children to deliver interactive workshops. The class offers research-backed tips on healthy media habits and provides various resources for helping parents to instill in children lifelong positive media habits and help their children grow to be sophisticated, critical and savvy media consumers. Please visit their website.

Dr. Tukachinsky teaches classes in the domain of media effects and mass communication theory, media literacy, education-entertainment (i.e., using entertainment programs to promote health and pro-social outcomes) and media research methodologies. She enjoys combining teaching and research, bringing research projects into the classroom and mentoring students on their own research projects.

Here are just a few examples of her recent research projects:

  • When actors don’t walk the talk – Lots of research found that characters we like on television shows can influence our beliefs and attitudes. But what happens when the actor who plays that role is a hypocrite and we know the role they play on the show is contrary to their own beliefs? Read the study here. Students in a senior seminar explored similar questions examining viewers’ reactions to celebrities making political statements on social media. They presented their work at the student research fair.
  • Celebrity crush explained – Did you ever have a crush on a celebrity? If yes, you are in a good company. Over 80% of college students did. Drs. Riva Tukachinsky and Sam Dorros investigate why this happens and is it good for you. Here are some of the study results.
  • How do romantic couples argue in popular television shows? – Dr. Tukachinsky mentored an independent study student, Selena Pang, on her original project about the way television shows present romantic conflict and what lessons we learn from it: Who picks the fight – women or men? Is conflict good for relationships? What do they fight about? The paper was presented by the student the National Communication Association annual convention.
  • How does media representation of ethnic minorities impact both Whites’ and minority group members’ perceptions? – Prime-time television representation of ethnic minorities from 1988 to 2008 and its relationship on White Americans’, Blacks’ and Latinos’ perceptions of racial groups (based on a national sample). Independent study students assisted in the project with coding the television representations of ethnic minorities. (Read here about effects on minorities, read here about effects on Whites).

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

Tukachinsky, R., *Inaba, H., *Kraus, K., *Stewart, D., & *Williams, M. (2019). Sex, likes and Instagram: Celebrity self-presentation on Instagram images. In C. Madere, Star power: The media effects created by celebrities, (pp. 165-179). Rowman & Littlefield. [Original research]
Tukachinsky, R., *Brogan-Freitas, E., & *Urbanovich, T. (2019). Promoting support for public health policies through mediated contact: Can narrator perspective and self-disclosure curb ingroup favoritism? International Journal of Communication, 13, 4553–4571.
Tukachinsky, R., & O’Conner, C.* (2017). Involvement with media content. In P. Roessler (Ed.), International encyclopedia of media effects. Wiley Publications. [Peer-reviewed]
Tukachinsky, R., & Tokunaga, R. S. (2013). The effects of engagement with entertainment, Communication Yearbook, 37, 287-322.
Tukachinsky, R. H. (2011). Para-romantic love and para-friendships: Development and assessment of a multiple-parasocial relationships scale. American Journal of Media Psychology, 3(1/2), 73-94.