Sheila Murphy is a professor of communication at USC Annenberg. Trained in social psychology at the University of Michigan, Murphy specializes in identifying the individual, interpersonal, community, and ethnic and cultural factors that shape people’s knowledge, attitudes and practices. Understanding cultural diversity and tailoring messages to diverse audiences has been a major theme of her research both domestically and internationally (including India, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, El Salvador, Panama, Thailand and Indonesia).
Murphy is also an expert on the use of stories or narratives — in contrast to more traditional interventions — to change individual and normative beliefs and behavior on topics ranging from human trafficking, condom use, stereotyping, cancer screening, water conservation, and acceptance of marginalized groups such as Muslims, undocumented immigrants and transgender individuals.
Murphy has worked with dozens of popular television programs (including Gray’s Anatomy, ER, Desperate Housewives, and American Crime) to assess the impact of popular programs on viewers’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior.
Awards and honors
American Public Health Association’s Public Health Education Award
Top Translational Research Award in Health Communication
National Institutes of Health Common Fund Award
Everett M. Rogers Award, American Public Health Association
“Using a Culturally Tailored Narrative to Increase Cervical Cancer Detection Among Spanish-Speaking Mexican-American Women,” co-author (Journal of Cancer Education, 2019).
“More than a Media Moment: The Influence of Televised Storylines on Viewers’ Attitudes toward Transgender People and Policies,” co-author (Sex Roles, 2018).
“Individual, cultural and structural predictors of vaccine safety confidence and influenza vaccination among Hispanic female subgroups,” co-author (Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 2016).
“Personal Network Analysis and Health among Latinas,” co-author (International Review of Social Research, 2016).
“Fostering Support for LGBTQ Youth? The Effects of a Gay Adolescent Media Portrayal on Young Viewers,” co-author (International Journal of Communication, 2016).
“An Argument for Ecological Research and Intervention in Health Communication,” co-author (Journal of Health Communication, 2016).
“Communication Asset Mapping: An Ecological Field Application Toward Building Healthy Communities,” co-author (International Journal of Communication, 2016).
“A social network analysis of supportive interactions on prenatal sites,” co-author (Digital Health, 2016).