headshot photo of Dr. Riva Tukachinsky

Dr. Riva Tukachinsky

Assistant Professor
School of Communication; Communication Studies
Expertise: Media Effects; Media Psychology; Media Literacy; Content Analysis; Racial Stereotypes
Office Location: Doti Hall 204
Office Hours: Tues/Thursday 9-10am and 12:45-2:45pm
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 (Ph.D., University of Arizona) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and M.S. program in Health and Strategic Communication at Chapman University in Orange, CA. She studies media psychology, namely how individuals choose, comprehend and can ultimately be influenced by media.

In 2014 Dr. Tukachinsky started a media literacy program that is offered as a service learning course for Communication Studies majors. The goal of the program is to offer parents and caregivers information about media to assist them in making informed media choices and refine their use of media as an opportunity for a meaningful family discourse. Parents and caregivers have the unique position to instill in children lifelong media habits and help them grow to be sophisticated, critical and savvy media consumers. Please visit our website.

Chapman University students who have successfully completed classes in media effects or mass communication theory have the opportunity to work with her on this community-based project partnering with organizations such as public libraries and schools. Students take a major part in developing the program, promotion, delivering the presentations and program assessment. You can read more about students’ experiences on a Chapman University blog post by a student who worked on the project in an independent study and the service learning class.

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:

  1. 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? Think Jennifer Aniston telling the Rolling Stone that she enjoys recreational marijuana, but then stars a movie (“The Good Girl”) in which her character strongly opposes her husband’s marijuana habit. Read the study here.
  2. IfTheyGunnedMeDown# - In the last few years there have been several highly publicized news stories involving police use of deadly force encountering an unarmed male Black suspect. Some news consumers accused news editors in selectively using images of the Black killed men that depict them as intimidating or delinquent in order to skew public opinion in favor of the police officer. Does the choice of image of the killed man (e.g., wearing a football jersey versus a hoodie) influence the readers’ justification of the deadly shooting? Is the effect of image choice remains the same regardless of the race of the killed suspect? These questions were explored by Dr. Tukachinsky and her senior seminar students in Spring 2015 and Fall 2015 and presented at the student research day (see abstracts here)
  3. How do romantic couples argue in popular television shows? – Dr. Tukachinsky mentored an independent study student on her original project about the way television shows present romantic conflict and what are the 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 at the National Communication Association annual convention.
  4. 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). Students assisted in the project with coding the television representations of ethnic minorities.

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

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.