Type of Document Dissertation Author Barton, Kristin Michael URN etd-04062007-165921 Title The Mean World Effects of Reality Television: Perceptions of Antisocial Behaviors Resulting from Exposure to Competition-Based Reality Programming Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Communication, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Authur A. Raney Committee Chair Jay Rayburn Committee Member Laura M. Arpan Committee Member Susan Losh Committee Member Keywords
- Reality Television
- Media Effects
Date of Defense 2007-03-19 Availability unrestricted AbstractReality-based television programming has become a dominant force in television over the past seven years and a staple of most networks’ primetime lineups. This relatively quick change in the television landscape and the sudden increase in viewers’ consumption of reality television necessitate an investigation into the impact these shows are having on their viewers.
This dissertation examines the effects of competition-based reality shows (such as Survivor and Big Brother) on viewers’ perceptions of society through the application of cultivation effects research methodology. Previous cultivation research has shown that heavy consumers of television will have a different or altered perception of society as compared to those who watch little television. The current research examined whether or not increased consumption of competition-based reality programming would lead to increased perceptions of antisocial behaviors in everyday life such as lying, manipulation, and ruthlessness (those behaviors commonly depicted on competition-based reality programs).
Study I looked at competition-based reality television shows in general and how they effected perceptions of society. Participants (607) provided data to test six hypotheses. Findings indicated that increased consumption of competition-based reality programming was positively correlated with increased perceptions of lying and manipulation in society. No significant relationships were found between these shows and increased perceptions of ruthlessness or increased perceptions of antisocial behaviors and television consumption in general.
Study II looked more specifically at competition-based reality dating programs and the effects they have on viewers’ perceptions of dating and relationships. Participants (557) provided data to test three hypotheses. Ultimately, findings did not show any significant relationships between consumption of competition-based reality dating shows and increased perceptions of lying, manipulation, or ruthlessness in dating, or dating as a competition.
The dissertation ends with a brief discussion of the limitations, an examination of how these findings impact cultivation effects research and reality television production, and recommendations for future research in this area.
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