Date of Award

5-11-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Hoffner

Second Advisor

Dr. Yuki Fujioka

Third Advisor

Dr. Holley Wilkin

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Brendan Calandra

Abstract

This study explored the role of involvement in narrative persuasion in the personal television environment. The entertainment overcoming resistance model (EORM) has suggested that viewers’ involvement into a narrative story or with a character overcomes their resistance toward persuasive messages because when viewers are fully engaged in a program they are not motivated to scrutinize the messages and become less critical of the messages. With the increasing popularity of personal television viewing, this dissertation sought to expand the persuasive process of entertainment-education programs in the personal television environment. Furthermore, this study expanded the EORM by suggesting moral disengagement as a moderator in the process by which involvement reduces resistance. Finally, viewers’ responses toward watching personal television and how their comfort with characteristics of personal television was associated with involvement were examined.

To accomplish the research goals, 354 college students watched an episode of the crime drama BoomTown about drinking and driving via an iPad. Participants completed a survey before and after watching the episode.

Results showed that personal television viewers’ identification with the main character reduced perceived invulnerability, and increased story-consistent attitudes and behavioral intentions, as suggested by the EORM. However, contrary to predictions, neither transportation nor identification were associated with counterarguing, and counterarguing was not associated with attitudes or behavioral intentions. Moral disengagement was not a significant moderator in personal television viewers’ persuasive process, but moral disengagement toward the character’s drunk driving did marginally moderate the process by which identification reduced resistance, in particular, counterarguing. A moderation analysis showed that identification with the character significantly curtailed counterarguing when moral disengagement toward the character’s drunk driving was low or moderate, whereas identification was unrelated to counterarguing when moral disengagement toward his drunk driving was high. Finally, personal television viewers’ involvement was positively associated with their degree of comfort with the screen, the viewing distance, and using headphones.

Interpretations of the findings, and theoretical and practical implications for understanding the role of personal television viewers’ involvement in the process of narrative persuasion were discussed.

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