Television -- Psychological aspects, Television soap operas, Television viewers
The frequency of occurrence on typical soap operas of incidents such as homicide, infidelity, and mental breakdown is much greater than is the case in real life. Also, various occupations (e.g., medical profession, legal profession) are overrepresented in these programs. The present study investigated the extent to which heavy soap opera viewers are influenced by these representations. Specifically, the differences between long term soap opera viewers’ and non-soap opera viewers’ perceptions about people and events in the real world were investigated. The subjects’ perceptions of the frequency of occurrences in the general population of such events as divorce, extramarital affairs, serious accidents, deception, having illegitimate children, death by homicide, being institutionalized, working in the medical profession, and being a lawyer were measured utilizing standard survey techniques. Also, the subjects’ estimates of the potential likelihood of future personal involvement in such events were measured. Results indicated that with respect to the probability of having extramarital affairs, nonviewers are more likely to anticipate being unfaithful than viewers [t(98) = -1.94, p <.05]. Also, female nonviewers are more likely to predict that they will be sexually assaulted than female viewers [t(98) = -2.23, p <.05]. No other statistically significant results were found. The results of this study provide no strong evidence that viewing soap operas directly affects viewers conceptions of reality.
Thomas, Margaret H.
Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Arts and Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Seese, Gayle, "Soap Opera Viewers' Perceptions of the Real World" (1987). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 5025.