Date of Award

1-12-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Jame Darsey - Chair

Abstract

Television often portrays African Americans in unfavorable positions in comparison to Caucasians. Typically these unfavorable depictions reinforce negative stereotypes associated with African Americans. Research indicates that television portrayals can influence people’s attitudes toward one another. A question left unanswered by current research: are mass-mediated images as influential at reversing or counteracting stereotypes as they are at reinforcing them? An experiment with undergraduate students was conducted to investigate the relationship between the positive portrayal of African Americans and subsequent racial attitudes. Participants viewed a video clip with either an African American or Caucasian chairman for the Georgia Division of Public Health. The clip included a still photograph of the chairman and was accompanied by a pre-recorded voice addressing treatments for lung cancer patients. At the beginning of each class, professors showed students the video after which the class lecture proceeded as scheduled. Just before the class ended a researcher entered the class and told students he/she was doing a survey on racial attitudes. Students were then given a questionnaire regarding racial attitudes toward African Americans. Between the time of the video viewing and the completion of the survey, students were not informed that one was related to the other. Subjects also completed an evaluation of the speaker in the video and of the health message.

Included in

Communication Commons

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