Type of Document Dissertation Author Sherman-Morris, Kathleen Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-04062006-132351 Title A Place for PSI: Finding a Role for Parasocial Interaction in Hazards Research Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Geography, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Jay Baker Committee Chair Arthur Raney Committee Member Jim Elsner Committee Member Jonathan Leib Committee Member Keywords
- broadcast meteorology
- risk perception
Date of Defense 2006-02-24 Availability unrestricted AbstractLocal news’ mission to serve the local community is perhaps never more important than during disasters and severe or hazardous weather. Studies have examined the role of local news during such times, but the focus has rarely, if ever, been on the weathercaster. This dissertation examines the relationship between the viewers and the weathercaster during both severe and every-day weather. The intensity of this relationship is measured by a construct called Parasocial Interaction (PSI). PSI is the one-sided pseudo-friendship audiences develop with television personalities. Little has been known until now about the role of PSI during severe weather.
The results of a survey questionnaire administered by mail and in person in the Memphis television market show that PSI can be used to predict the likelihood of respondents’ intent to take shelter during a tornado and also the level of trust they place in the recommendations made by the weathercaster during severe weather. Since the study took place in the Memphis area, special attention was paid to the role race might play in severe weather decisions and also in PSI itself. While the number of Black respondents was too small to draw definitive conclusions, race did account for a significant amount of the variance in level of trust placed on the recommendations made by the weathercaster during severe weather. It was not significant in predicting whether respondents were likely to take shelter during a tornado. Neither was race related to PSI intensity, even though all nightly weathercasters in the market were white.
Finally, based on previous work on PSI by Giles (2002) and a content analysis of Memphis nightly news that showed coverage is most concentrated around the Memphis urbanized area, it was proposed PSI would be significantly different between two locations in the Memphis viewing area; Southaven (which is within the area of continuous urbanization) and Senatobia (which is outside of the urbanized area). PSI was not significantly different between these two locations, although this may be partly explained by the fact that the content analysis also showed weather coverage to be much more widespread than news story coverage.
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