Date of Award

2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Bracken, Cheryl

Subject Headings

Attitude change, Attitude (Psychology) -- Testing, Mentally ill offenders -- Fiction, Mentally ill offenders -- Public opinion, Presence, Telepresence, Transportation, Narrative, Mental illness

Abstract

As the authors of the Transportation-Imagery Model (Green & Brock, 2000 2002) often state, much attention has been paid to the effects of persuasive communications, frequently at the cost of studying the effects that narratives have on individuals' real-world beliefs. This study is primarily interested in examining the role that transportation and presence - along with a host of related variables - play in individuals adopting story-consistent beliefs based on entertainment narratives. A secondary goal of the study is to explore the similarities and differences between transportation (Green & Brock, 2000) and presence (Lombard & Ditton, 1997 Wirth et al. 2007 Biocca 2002, Witmer & Singer, 1998). A review of previous literature documents that individuals learn from fiction - the realm of entertainment-education is just one example. If people can change their attitudes and behavior based on pro-social messages, examining whether, and under what conditions, this can occur with antisocial, or unjustly stereotypical content should be further explored. This experimental research is interested in what variables affect attitudes toward the mentally ill, based on their typical violent and criminal representations in a crime drama. Participants were randomly assigned to either the control condition, in which they viewed a crime drama with no reference to mental illness, or to the experimental condition, in which they viewed a crime drama that centers around a man who's schizophrenia serves as the reason he is a violent murderer. Participants viewed one of these episodes, and then responded to a questionnaire. Measures included counter-arguing with the narrative, transportation into the narrative (Green & Brock, 2000), three dimensions of presence: spatial, engagement (mental immersion), and social realism (Lombard & Ditton, 2000), perceived realism (Green, 2004), familiarity/personal experience with the mentally ill, and attitudes toward the mentally ill. A second time point measure of attitudes toward the mentally i

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