Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Yuki Fujioka PhD

Second Advisor

Cindy Hoffner PhD

Third Advisor

Holley Wilkin PhD

Fourth Advisor

Natalie Tindall PhD

Fifth Advisor

Ralph DiClemente PhD

Abstract

The present study sought to expand current understandings of how and why participants identify with television characters, as well as how this identification is related to self-efficacy and safe sex intentions regarding HIV prevention. Based on the Entertainment Overcoming Resistance Model, it was expected that when viewers identify with characters in a media program, they would be less likely to counterargue or reject the HIV prevention Hkmessage, but more likely to have greater intentions and self-efficacy in modeling the behaviors shown in the program. This study also sought to understand whether these outcomes may be influenced by the gender of the participant.

This study also examined ways of applying the EORM model to African American audiences. The levels of HIV/AIDS among African Americans make the need for prevention strategies for this specific community critical. This study sought a greater understanding of cultural influences, such as medical distrust. Medical distrust has been previously shown to influence responses of African American participants to health information messages. The African American sitcom One on One was chosen to show as a model of HIV prevention discussion and testing.

The study included 142 participants. Following a pre-session survey, participants viewed the stimulus and responded to an online survey. Results showed that participants identified with the male and female lead characters in the program. A paired t-test revealed that females were more likely to identify with the female lead than they were with the male lead character.

Medical distrust was related to greater counterarguing and lower self-efficacy to perform HIV prevention behaviors. Counterarguing against the message was low overall. Medical distrust did interact with identification in the prediction of counterarguing. However, counterarguing was not associated with less safe sex intentions. Identification with the characters in the program was related to greater self-efficacy for male participants. Self-efficacy was also related to greater safe sex intentions. Although identification was related to counterarguing and self-efficacy, these outcomes are also related to what aspects of the character viewers identify with and how they relate to the content of the media message.

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