Date of Award

Spring 1992

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Griffin, Robert J.

Second Advisor

Turner, Lynn H.

Third Advisor

Ksobiech, Kenneth

Abstract

This study considers the role of family communication patterns (FCP) on adolescents' perceptions of television portrayals. The specific aim is to determine the extent to which the communication structures a child learns in the family environment serve as a "frame of reference" for the child to interpret television portrayals of reality. A second objective is to measure the relationship existing between the communication patterns prevailing at home and the extent to which parents either affirm or deny to their children the reality of television shows. After reviewing relevant literature, it is predicted that adolescents from sociooriented families are more likely than those from concept-oriented families: a) to perceive TV's characters as real, and b) to identify themselves with TV characters. With regard to parents' comments, it is hypothesized that socio-orientation will be positively associated with parents' affirmations of TV's reality, whereas concept·orientation will be positively associated with parents' denials of TV's reality. Analysis of the data supported the contention that FCP have a significant effect on children's wishes to be like TV characters. Statistically, no significant relationship was found between the FCP dimensions and children's perceptions of TV characters' realism. With regard to parents' comments, contrary to predictions, it was found that, statistically, both dimensions of the FCP correlated positively and equally with both parental affirmations and denials of TV realism. A significant relationship, however, emerged when parental control of children's TV viewing was introduced as another independent variable. Its interaction with the FCP showed significant effects for socio·oriented children's perceptions of TV realism. According to this, it appears that what parents do (Le., controlling of TV viewing) has a greater impact on children than what parents say to them concerning the reality of TV shows. Recommendations for future research suggests, among other things, the need to establish the relationship among both dimensions of family communication patterns, parents' comments to children about the reality of television, and parental control of children's TV viewing.

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