Citation
The relationship of role models as perceived on television situation comedy to self-efficacy beliefs

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Title:
The relationship of role models as perceived on television situation comedy to self-efficacy beliefs
Creator:
Walkosz, Barbara J
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vii, 97 leaves : forms ; 29 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Television -- Psychological aspects ( lcsh )
Television -- Psychological aspects ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 89-97).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Department of Communication.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Barbara J. Walkosz.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
22879622 ( OCLC )
ocm22879622
Classification:
LD1190.L48 1990m .W34 ( lcc )

Full Text
THE RELATIONSHIP OF ROLE MODELS
AS PERCEIVED ON TELEVISION SITUATION COMEDY
TO SELF-EFFICACY BELIEFS
by
Barbara J. Walkosz
B.A., University of Minnesota, 1971
A thesis submitted to the |
I'
!i
Faculty of the Graduate School of the l
t
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment;1
!p
i.
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Department of Communication
1990
.
AM
.it


This thesis for the Master of Arts ji
ji
j
degree by
!
Barbara J. Walkosz
I.
[I
has been approved for the >
Department of Communication j
Michael M. Monsour

Date
Jon A. Winterton


Walkosz j Barbara J. (M.A., Communication)
The Relationship of Role Models as Perceived on
Television Situation Comedy to Self-
Efficacy Beliefs
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Michael Monsour
Television has become a powerful tool of mass
communication. The influence of television on
attitudes and behavior is being examined by
communication, social science, and psychology
" i
researchers as an important component of the

socialization process.
This investigation looks at the influence of
television through an examination of role models
perceived reality of mediated messages, and self-i-
efficacy beliefs. The study attempts to build a
i model
to investigate the impact of mediated messages as
!n
j;
perceived on situation comedies upon confidence levels
(
or self-efficacy beliefs. The model is designed) to
f
look at specific issues and can thus examine topics by
il"
j
a precise situation. The topic area being investigated
in this study is job seeking skills.
Two groups of subjects (a control group and an
I
experimental group) involved in a job training program
have participated in the study. Both groups completed
surveys providing demographic information and sJales


CONTENTS
I1
li
i
Tables............................................
CHAPTER '
i
1. INTRODUCTION...............................
|i
Definition of Terms.......................i,
Role Models...........................1!
Television Situation Comedy . . . .
Perceived Reality . . . . .........
i
Self-Efficacy ........................ i
ii
2. LITERATURE REVIEW ......................... L
j'
Role Models...............................li
|j
Perceived Reality..........................L
Self-Efficacy..............................I
li
General Conclusions........................L
i;
i'
3. METHODOLOGY................................t
i
ModelDesign...............................ji
Development of Apparatus..................il
Television Situation Comedy Program. . ;
Independent, Dependent, and Contigent jj
Variables.................................
,1
Pilot Study................................L
I
Study........................................
vii
1
14
14
15
15
15
17
17
30
41
48
51
52
53
56
58
58
61
(


Subjects.
Procedures
i
61
Statistical Analysis.....................J;
t
4. RESULTS.......................... ..............i
Analysis of Hypotheses ...................... }
i
Additional Results..........................1
5. DISCUSSION.....................................i,
,1
Discussion of Results.........................!
|j
Suggestions for Model Design ................ j
lS
Implications for Future Research . . . .
!;
APPENDIX - |i
A. TELEVISION SURVEY..............................1'
!'
B. POTTER PERCEIVED REALITY SURVEY . . Jj
|l
C. SELF-EFFICACY SCALE ........................... j
D. SITUATION COMEDY ANNOTATION ................... i
i;
BIBLIOGRAPHY.............................................\
!,
!c
i
i
s
i

1
II
62
63
65
65
67
69
69
76
79
83
84
86
87
89


TABLES
Table
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
4.1
4 .'2
4.3
i
Pilot Study, Demographic Information. . .
if
Pilot Study, Means and Standard Deviations
of Perceived Reality......................I,.
Pilot Study, T-Test for Self-Efficacy . .
(
Study, Demographic Information............|:.
!i
T-Test for Self-Efficacy..................>.
1
Pearson Product-Moment Correlations for I
Perceived Reality and Self-Efficacy . . jl.
j
Amount of TV Viewing/Self-Efficacy j
Relationships..............................
59
59
. .60
. .62
. .66
. .67
. .68
|ji
i
I
s
Ij
i
1
vii


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Television more than any other medium gijyes
models to the American people models for
life, as it is, or should be lived.
Margaret Mead
In the field of social development, one studies
all of the influences that impinge on a person in
i'
order to make him or her a functioning member of|
1
society. In the past, the list of influences has
included parents, peers, and social institutions'like
the church and school. Communication, psychology, and
social science scholars are now investigating the
ji
addition of television to the list of social |
development influences (Condry, 1989). f
l!
Reports of social psychologists indicate that in
|i
many cases our feelings, behaviors, and thoughts,are
strongly affected (influenced) by exposure to the
actions of persons around us and the outcomes thpy
experience. Exposure to actions of others affecjts
important forms of social behavior such as aggrejssion
on the one hand or altruism on the other. Role
modeling is one of the most common and most important
forms of social influence (Baron & Byrne, 1977).


The impact of the technological revolution has
altered our sphere of political, social, and
interpersonal relationships and provided alternative
F
models of social influence. On a global level, |the
mass media and high technology have been credited in
.assisting with the collapse of communism through
infiltration of competing images of reality aero
borders (Talbot, 1990). While in America the
introduction of the television set into almost e
American household (Statistical Abstracts of the
the
ss
very
United States (1987) reports that 98.2% of U.S.
households own a television set) has been cause
redefine the method by which we model our activi
Americans are now spending more than half of the
available free time watching television and repo
getting more pleasure from television than from
food, hobbies, religion, money, or sports (Kubey
to
i
ties.
'ir
ft
sex,
1 &
i.
Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). The influence of television
|!
is considered so powerful that T.V. Marti, a U.S;!.
L
1
owned satellite television system, plans to begin
broadcasting situation comedies, such as Alf and* The
(
Cosby Show, to Cuba. The rationale behind this ilcostly
enterprise is the belief that images of American,
television may accomplish what the Bay of Pigs Jould
not: the toppling of the Castro regime (Time, U990).
2


Whether locally or globally, self-identity j.
formerly defined by interpersonal relationships or
|i
jl
social and political systems is now formed as well by
|i
television programs (Gumpert & Cathart, 1986). y
Television has become our social companion.
Replacing storytellers, parents, grandparents,
teachers, relatives, and friends, it is often our
|!
personal educator. It is to this end that television
!|
now teaches us about personal happiness and how to
i'
obtain it, success and how to achieve to it, and
honesty and its rewards (Gumpert & Cathart, 1986i) .
Bandura (1989) states that the belief that tae can
accomplish these desired ends lies in our personal
self-efficacy. He notes that "people's self-efficacy
beliefs determine their level of motivation, as
reflected in how much effort they will exert in bn
!.
endeavor and how long they will persevere in thejj face
of obstacles" and that "there is a growing body ;of
i'
II
evidence that human attainments and positive well
being require an optimistic sense of personal '
efficacy" (p.1176). People can enhance their seif-
j
efficacy through mastery experiences, modeling j
j
influences, verbal persuasion, or cognitive
|
stimulations (Bandura, 1977a).


The purpose of this study is to look at the I.
i
influence of television through an examination of the
relationship of role models, the perceived reality of
mediated messages on television situation comedy| and
self-efficacy beliefs. '
i
In a discussion of modeling influences, Bandura
I1
(1971) notes that from observing others, one forms a
concept of how behavior patterns are performed and on
|5
later occasions how this symbolic action serves as a
guide for action. As noted, role models (social
!.
f,
influences) were once provided by people- and |]
institutions close to us. For example, boys learned
!
to be farmers by watching their fathers and girls
I
|i
learned to be homemakers by watching their mothers.
However, it is increasingly evident that we are now
attaining those models from the media (Larson, 1989)
The influence of the media on role model [
I
selection is supported by the World Almanac and Book
of Facts Annual Polls (1981 1986) which asked j'.
youngsters, ages 12-18, to choose their "Top Hero."
The information attained from these polls
substantiated earlier propositions of the impact lof
the media on our personal educational process. From
1981 to 1986, the winners of the "Top Hero" poll|
J
respectively, were Burt Reynolds (1981-1982), Alan


Alda, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Jackson, and Eddie
I,
j
Murphy (World Almanac, 1981-86). In her discussion of
. jj
role model selection, Shugar (1988) does not attend to
j.
gender perception; however, it should be noted that
although both boys and girls participated in thefpoll,
only male role models were chosen. It is possible
!
that the lack of females selected may be a function of
!i
how women's roles and status are portrayed in the
media.
These "Top Heroes" are products of the media who
- u
attained their recognition through such activities as
starring in television shows and movies and through
rock music production (Shugar, 1988). Walden (1986)
\
declares that we must start to recognize the |
difference between a celebrity and a hero; |>
i!
celebrities are famous for being famous, not because
!
of any heroic acts. Psychologist Kenneth Clark (1982)
jl*
concurs that "so many entertainment people turn jup as
heroes because they're chosen for their fictional
i'
I
roles"(p.68) Traditional role models, such as George
!'
h
Washington remembered for accepting challenges with
courage and honor, Harriet Tubman, known for bravery
Ji
and dedication, or Abraham Lincoln, admired for His
i!
strength of foresight for his time, are now being
|l
replaced by media celebrities. Suggested contemporary


models such as Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, Lech
Welesa, and Christine McAuliffe (key figures who have
I
performed admirable deeds), have been displaced by
media personalities in the role model selection ^
process (Shugar, 1988).
Concurrently, Molotoki (1983) notes that in Jthe
Hopi culture, storytelling used to happen every night
ii
Entire households came together for the occasion 'and
everybody from small children to great-grandparents
were present. Today, however, "with the increasing
i
I
disintegration of the Hopi family ties, with colour
!
television, comics and other mass media entertainment
!
making inroads, Hopi folklore tradition is moribund"
(p. 20). I
I
>
Corresponding to the experience of the Hopisj,
ji
changing family patterns and recreational activities
indicate that other segments of American society rare
jt
also receiving their models not from storytelling, or
from interpersonal communications but rather from
mediated communication, primarily from television*.
I*
American households on the average watch television
f
more than seven hours per day (Nielsen, 1989).
I,
Television remains, in terms of both behavior and
i
preferences, the central activity of Americans ll
(Cheseboro, 1986) ranking third as the primary
6


I
!
activity of American adults, right behind working' and
sleeping (Comstock, Chaffee, Katzman, McCombs, &j
Roberts 1987) . [
f
In an explanation of the impact of television on
American society, Goethals (1981) suggests, that
television and the activities which surround
t
television viewing have become the new rituals in
I
American society. Gennep (I960) describes ritual as
|f
the leaving of the familiar world, entrance into |an
unfamiliar world, and a return to yourown world Jas
!
transformed by the experience. Silverstone (1988)
l
maintains that television provides that mythicalj
passage and opportunity for transformation in our
lives as "we go away from and back to the mundane, via
l
an often taken for granted, but nonetheless |j
I
significant immersion into the other worldliness ;of
the screen" (p.76). [
It is in this journey that television replaces
the storyteller through (1) the presentation of tjhe
content of myth, most significantly, in its reporting
of major collectively focused and focusing event
(coronations, weddings, ball games), (2) the
presentation of a communication, which in its various
i
narrative and rhetorical aspects preserves forms of
familiar and formula storytelling that are the product
7


I'
and property of a significantly oral culture and,
|'
(3) the creation by its technology of a distant and
spatial temporal environment marked by the screen and
jn
marking for all to see the tissue boundary between the
profane and the sacred (Silverstone, 1988). Ji
Joseph Campbell (1968) supporting the importance
of the myth writes that throughout the inhabited;
world, in all times and under every circumstance! the
myths of men and women have flourished; and theyjhave
been the inspiration of whatever else may have (
appeared out of the activities of the human mind(an-d
body. I
1
Newcomb (1988) reports that "what we see now in
television is common to all popular cultural media
when they reach the stage of serving as a central
j
story system in a particular social and historical
setting" (p.88). As this system, television is a meta
narrative in "that it provides the constant
recirculation of crucial cultural information in
varied contexts which makes it possible not only;to
speak in terms of textual and formal considerations
such as genre, blurred genre, character and action; it
f,
also enables us to come to different understandings of
audiences" (Carey, 1988, p.3). j-
8


In Regeneration Through Violence, Richard Slotkin
£
(1973) writes:
Mythology is a complex of narratives that
dramatizes the world vision and historical sense
of a people or culture, reducing centuries pf
experience into a constellation of compelling
metaphors. The ultimate source of the mythj-is
the human mind itself, for man is essentially a
myth-making animal, (p.84) |,
Slotkin suggests that we create myths so we can |
understand our own behavior; the myths provide models
for us to determine our behavior. For example, how in
\j
our culture families survive, how relationships jsndure
!
amid struggle, how you get a job, or how you deal with
an uncomfortable situation.
Kaminsky (1985) contends that of the genres' on
television, the situation comedy acts as a response to
i
our society's need for myth as a teaching device. The
A.C. Nielsen Company released figures reporting jthat
in 1988, situation comedies were the most popular
f
shows among American viewers. Comedies drew about.
!j
23.75 million viewers during an average broadcast
minute and were number one among all major demographic
\
groups, except men, who slightly preferred suspense
!
and mystery dramas (Jones, 1989). Situation comjedy is
|i
a term used to identify the presence of comic myths on
television (Kaminsky, 1985).
9 1
i
i


Ir
Jl
I'
As role models are presented on the modern day
myth of the TV situation comedy we need to ask
ourselves if our experiences should work out in the
same manner as on Cheers? Should our friendships
emulate the Golden Girls? Should we dress like jlurphy
Brown? Solve problems like the Cosby family? jl
The sitcom has never made the myth that j
9
uncomfortable that we have not been willing to j1
II
participate. The programs seek to establish a |
comfortable range of emotions via programs such as
l1
Kate and Allie and Family Ties. \
Television situation comedy, the sitcom, is 'at
the center of prime-time network programming. It!) has
I
been far and away the dominant mode of the top twenty
shows in the history of television (Stein, 1979).! In
|l
fact, in every year except one since 1956, the average
rating for sitcoms has been higher than that for *the
average program (Mintz, 1985). t
{i
In a study analyzing the frequency of different
j)
programming types for a thirty year period (1950 j<-
1980), Bence (1987) determined that the situation
comedy was consistently the most popular type of
television prime-time program. The popularity of( the
genre is reinforced by its prime-time (between th-e
hours of 8 pm and- 11 pm) programming slot, which ,is
[
i
i
!
10


the time of day that gathers all types of audiences
I,
together (Nielsen, 1986). * I;
}i
From 1948 1978, four hundred (400) sitcom's were
produced and aired, resulting in 20,000 prime-time
i
episodes (Hough, 1981). Brown and Bryant (1983)
i
estimate that there are over 500 billion viewings of
i
ji
television comedy in a average week. j
So, although situation comedies have been ,
criticized for their sermonizing (Kaminsky, 1985), for
i
their ambiguity (Newcomb & Adler, 1983), and for1 their
,1
disservice to comic tradition (Grote, 1983), thely
continue to play a role of importance in the lifje of
r
the television viewing public. Their impact cannot be
overlooked. |
, ji
For example, Archie Bunker s chair sits in the
ji
Smithsonian and Good Times was praised by the U.-S.
Civil Rights Commission for its dissemination of?
medical information on hypertension. In the same
vein, the 200th episode of Happy Days was written into
the Congressional Record in recognition of the ji
program's wholesomeness and Laverne and Shirley won an
award from the National Association for Retarded'
i
Citizens for an episode in which a retarded girl was
portrayed with sensitivity. And then there are cases
li
I.J
such as when the Fonz, a character in Happy Days1;
!
11
1


applied for a library card. The Fonz was a ]'
characterization of the classic hoodlum of the fifties
ll
i'
who scorned authority and would rather spend time on
cars, girls, and combing his hair than on scholastic
|i
endeavors. Portrayed as a lovable rebel, the Fojnz
endeared most viewers and even the protagonists 'on the
program. His particular application for a library
!i
]i
card resulted in a 500% increase in public librajry
card applications (Mintz, 1985). I
It is possible that the situation comedy has
become one of the purveyor of modern day myths. > In
I
relation to the impact of mediated messages, this
study will focus upon the messages provided by t
situation comedy.
he
McQuail (1983) states that a media experience is
I
"no different in essence from any other experience,
I;
act, or observation which might have consequence1- for
f
learning or behavior" (p.187). j
However, televised information, like any otjher
,
information, will be valuable only to the extent: that
i
people can use it in the service of their goals.
There are many variables which determine if peop'le use
!jl
televised information including demographic If
information (Condry, 1989), heavy viewing (Gerbnler,
Gross, Morgan, & Signorelli, 1986), educational
level
12


(Wilensky, 1964), and perceived reality of mediated
messages (Potter, 1986). Of these variables, this
study will be specifically concerned with the
!i
construct of perceived reality and its relationship to
|!
the influence of televised messages. 1
i
The existing literature notes that information
j
received from situation television comedies may have a
' jl
profound effect on how receivers (television viewers)
i
model their activities and that this modeling can
affect viewer self-efficacy beliefs (e.g.,
Berman, 1987; Himmelsfcein, 1984). However, the
National Institute of Mental Heath (1982) reportjs that
very little research exists on the emotional andjj
experiential reactions to television and the
consequential influence of those reactions on language
and behavior.
This study will attempt to build a model to
i
examine the perception of role models on television
situation comedy and to look at the relationship!
that perception to the construct of self-efficacy
beliefs .
of
13


Definition of Terms
]i
Role Models j
li
|,
According to social learning theory, many complex
behaviors may be acquired in part from observing i
I
others' behavior (Bandura, 1977b). These role models
ji
can be either real-life models or symbolic ones which
are presented in a written, pictorial, or oral manner.
jj
There is strong evidence to support the influence of
role models in our lives. Baron and Byrne (1977)
report exposure to behavior and outcome of others may
1. strengthen or weaken our inhibitions
jj
against engaging in similar actions-i
2. facilitate our performance of a variety
of responses not typically subject to
strong restraints.
3. allow us to acquire new and important
forms of behavior not previously at I our
disposal. '
Observational learning, the acquisition of hew
responses by simple observation of the acts of others,
ij
is very close to the socialization process (Baron &
!'
Byrne, 1977). If we are conducting the majorityjof
ll
observational learning in front of the television set,
14


this activity may provide important information hot
I
only about social modeling but also about the (
relationship of that modeling to self-efficacy
{
beliefs. \
Television Situation Comedy
Of the genres presented on television, situation
i,
comedy is perhaps the most basic format. The salient
|j
features of the situation comedy include the half-hour
format, its basis in humor, the "problem of the |eekM
that causes the hilarious situation, and the
resolution so that a new episode may come on next week
(Feuer, 1984). The situation comedy in its most
elemental form provides a simple and reassuring
problem/solution formula.
Perceived Reality j
I
Perceived reality is the degree of reality that
!/
people see in mediated messages (Potter, 1986).
Self-Efficacy ,
Self-efficacy is the strength of one's '
convictions that one can successfully execute behavior
ji
required to produce certain outcomes (Bandura, 1977a).
I
The importance of self-efficacy in this study will be
f
measured in terms of the subjects' beliefs that tjhey
15


can accomplish certain goals. These self-efficacy
l
I,
beliefs will then be examined in relation to thej
j!
subjects' perceived reality of role models as j
presented on television situation comedy. [
In this chapter, the concept of role models^ the
impact and perceived reality of televised messages
the role of situation comedy in the socialization
process, and the importance of self-efficacy beliefs
i
have been introduced. i
The following chapter will examine the existing
ii
literature on the above concepts in connection with
ii
the questions under study. j
|l

I
i;
16
i
i
t


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
There are three major areas that are relevanjt to
this study. They include: (1) role models, (2)
perceived reality of mediated messages, and (3) s
efficacy beliefs. This chapter provider a litera
review of these topics as they relate to the
relationship of perceived reality of mediated mes
and self-efficacy beliefs.
Role Models
elf-
jtur e
3
I
I
sages
Studies in role model theory point to their
importance in such diverse areas as factors
contributing to spouse abuse (Rouse, 1984); their
importance in raising the employment expectations
aspirations of persons with disabilities (Tindall
Gurgerty, 1987); and their importance in the posi
exposure of female role models in science careers
early adolescents (Smith & Erb, 1986).
In terms of this study, the impact of perceived
role models (when presented in a mediated
communication format) will be examined in view of
their relationship to viewer behavior.
and
&
tive
to
l



Bandura (1977b) provides evidence from informal
|
and experimental observations that actual or symbolic
models are exceedingly effective in transmitting
controlling behavior. For example, studies suggest
that exposure to role models of success and
achievement can be highly effective in overcoming
womens reluctance to enter fields previously i]
considered the sole province of men, and may also
n
)
sharply reduce their anxieties concerning such !i
activities (Cherry, 1975,; Wolf, 1973).
I
'
Early research focused on social modeling as
imitation as introduced by Bandura (1977b) in the
Social Learning Theory of Modeling Processes. Ttiree
modes of social learning were proposed under this
theory:
1. Response Inhibitor or Disinhibition: exposure
I
to models can either strengthen or weaken an |j
individuals restraints in engaging in such actsj
2. Response Facilitation: individual response is
determined by another individual's response, e.gj,
li
yawning or clapping in a theater. :
3. Observational Learning: acquiring new :
F
response by simply observing the actions of others.
jj
Observational learning processes are of impo;rt
i
when examining the effects of televised messages.]
ij
18


In a classic study of "filmed media aggression,"
Banduras Bobo Doll study demonstrated that television
violence not only teaches children new ways of
aggressing, but also encourages children to
participate in such behavior (Bandura, Ross,
1963).
& Ro.ss,
In this work, Bandura was interested in
determining if people would actually imitate whatj they
il
saw on the screen. Children viewed both a real person
i
and a cartoon figure engaged in aggressive behavijor;
it was predicted that "the more remote the model jwas
from reality, the weaker would be the tendency fo'r
subjects to imitate the behavior of the model" j
(Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963, p.3). However, the1
I
results of the study showed that the children imitated
I
the actions of both figures. ,
j
The Bobo Doll studies have been supported bj'y
later research which determined that exposure to
filmed, televised, or even verbal descriptions ofj
aggression may facilitate similar behavior by
observers (Williams, Bennett, & Best, 1975).
A long term study conducted by Leyens, Camino,
Parke, and Berkowitz (1975) concluded the increased
likelihood that viewers themselves will engage iJj such
behavior when exposed to filmed or TV violence. ;


Many studies have been conducted which show!that
a steady diet of violence, especially as viewed on
television, may significantly increase children's
tendencies to behave in a similar manner (Collins,
I,
1982; Leyens, Camino, Parke, & Berkowitz, 1975). \ For
example, when exposed to a brutal boxing match,
children who viewed a great deal of TV (25 hours j,;a
week or more) showed lower levels of physiological
arousal than children who watched very little Tvl(4
|
hours a week or less). These findings suggest that
constant exposure to televised violence may j.
desensitize viewers to aggression, and so make it:
I
easier for them to engage in such actions themselves
I
(Cline, Croft, & Courrier, 1973).
In a different mode, exposure to helping modjels
,1
increases the tendency to help others (Grusec, 1972).
Modeling produces strong effects on the part of tl'he
observer. Bryan and Test (1967) demonstrated thi
{
effects of a helping model on prosocial behavior jin an
experiment in which subjects exposed to a model who
helped a motorist with a flat tire or donated to
charity were more likely to engage in such behaviors
than those not exposed to helping models. In a |
similar examination of pro-social behavior, Leife'r,
Gordon, and Graves (1974) conducted studies which! also
20


concluded that learning occurred by imitation from
televised messages just as it did from direct j'
observation of the event itself. [
Miller and Reeves (1976) used a measure of
knowledge of female lead characters in a TV series as
i
an indicator of exposure to programs showing women in
j;
non-traditional occupations. Children who could name
more of these characters were less likely to see
|.i
occupations as stereo-typed by gender, an effect the
investigators contributed to non-stereotyped TV |
Television paints pictures of life with j^broad
brush strokes (Marc, 1989) and within those pictures,
\
situation comedies have provided viewers with rqle
jj
models. From the conservative homebound mothers of
Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best to the
modern
day fathers of The Cosby Show and Whose the Boss,
\f
sitcoms'have provided role models to the viewing
f
public for most genders, ages, and sexes. i,
i
A brief historical perspective on the situation
i>
comedy can show how the situation comedy has reflected
the values of its time and in that reflection provided
modeling influences for the viewer.
Early television provided primarily idealized and
il
fictionalized role models for the viewer. In thj'e
F
fifties, families gathered around television sets on
21
i
i


Monday nights to watch the zany antics of the I_
Love
Lucy Show (Hough, 1981). Little Ricky's birth outdrew
If
L
the Eisenhower inauguration. The domestic comedies of
j
early television provided a reflection of American
values of the time: a stable, divorce-free j
environment dedicated to Christian and egalitarian
values (Marc, 1989). The traditional family shews,
|j
such as George Burns and Gracie Allen, I Remembeir
Mama, and Father Knows Best, provided the audience
___ |
with a high incidence of the seasoned married co;uple,
of scatter-brained wives, of henpecked husbands,jj and
M
of minor children. !
i
i'
This trend was followed in the sixties by aj visit
i
to the suburbs through such programs as The Dick Van
_ ij
Dyke Show, which eschewed the values of the New J
Frontier. The domestic issues of these times as
presented on the television were measles, girlfriends,
li
school problems, and white lies. These problems' were
addressed on the sitcoms. Sitcoms of the early |1960's
jl
had the highest statistical incidence of family jshows,
relatives, household pets, and young married coujples.
The nuclear family was at the forefront in such i
programs as Leave It to Beaver and The Donna Reed
Show. However, the single parent was slowly starting
22


to make inroads as in Bachelor Father, Andy Griffith,
and My Three Sons (Hough, 1981). I'
After a brief visit into the world of geniejs,
i
witches, and nannies in the 1960s, a new form ojf
sitcom emerged in the seventies. Historical analysts
i?
of the sitcom genre agree that with the advent ojf. such
shows as M*A*S*H, the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and' All
I
in the Family, the sitcom started to finally reflect
contemporary American life (Hough, 1981; Marc, 1989;
Mintz, 1985) and provide solid modeling influences.
ii
For example, the Mary Tyler Moore Show (MTM)
helped to define the role of women in the sevent
les.
Mary was a single, by choice, successful woman aind her
family was her co-workers. Hough (1981) believe
s MTM
is among the top ten shows in terms of historical and
i
social significance in its portrayal of the single
working woman. The emphasis of the comedy in thje show
P
was constantly on the interpersonal and familial!
f!
(Feuer, 1984) .
The character ensemble, motivation, and weekly
set of epiphanies on MTM transformed the
problem/solution format of the sitcom into a fartmore
psychologic and episodic formula.
The 1970's also saw a high incidence of ethnic
comedy. Twenty-five sitcoms with black families
23
i
ll


appeared, compared to five in the previous decade.
Latino shows also were developed and included Chico
and the Man, Popi, and Viva Valdez. However, Asians,
i,i
Native Americans, and Catholics were held to their
!;
usual low levels of participation (Hough, 1981). jf
p,
The social change concerns of Mary Tylerj
i'
Moore, Hawkeye (the pacifist doctor on M*A*S*H serving
!<
in an emergency medical unit in the Korean War), j-and
Meathead (ultra-conservative Archie Bunker's liberal
i
son-in-law on All in the Family) have now become ithe
issues of the characters of the eighties including
Designing Women, Alex Keaton (the upwardly mobile son
I
r
of Family Ties), and the Cosby family. Berman (1987)
writes that TV programming is like a gigantic mirror
I
that holds up what we want to see of ourselves - what the networks, actors, writers, and producers
think about what we think.
We have learned from early childhood to observe
social models, first parents and teachers and then our
J
peers to learn which roles were appropriate to which
situation. Today, however, it is often through media
personality and roles that values are enacted. These
values are bonded with role modeling and role
teaching. The values that we hold determine the
24
{,1



appropriateness of the roles we assume (Gumpert &
Cathart, 1986 ) . j?
Not everyone learns a lesson from televisio'n
viewing. However, media effects have been examined in
many areas to determine how they may shape and/o;r
change our behaviors and attitudes. |i,
Farber, Brown, and McLeod (1979) developed |a
model to determine the impact of entertainment
television on adolescents. It was contended that
television effects can be examined in light of
j
specific life stages. In this study they examined
l
adolescent developmental tasks. These tasks included
I
development of a positive body image, the definition
of sex roles and the establishment of cross-sex
relationships, the achievement of economic and
emotional independence, the preparation for futuije
roles, and the development of civic competence.
I
In this model the effects (knowledge, values, and
behavior) of the mediated message are determined jiby:
(1) an set of internal (task resolution strategy)! and
i]
external (experiential, cognitive and social
abilities, societal and cultural) constraints, arjld (2)
!
media use (fantasy generation, interpersonal ?
i:
communication and direct learning) Also noted is
l,
that different viewers learn different things frolm
25


televised portrayals of life issues such as those
found on situation comedies. Perspective or issue *
I
salience brought with the viewer will affect wha't he
j1'
h
or she takes away from the exposure. |;
Television presentations can be important t
o the
.solution of lifes facts not only because of thel;
!;
roles, role variations, and nontraditional roles!)
i'
r
presented, but also because when a person has a !;
particularly strong visual image of an upcoming event,
i
it will exert an inordinately strong influence on
l,
their decision-making regarding this event (Janis,
1980). This visual image is called a script. Janis
believes that people can easily develop personal!'
scripts from television, because the visual image is
l
presented there for the individual vis a vis thej'role
|
model. i,
|,
Three ways in which television content may lie
used in the process of task resolution include: 1.(1)
jh
television content may be used for direct learning of
ij
information relevant to the task; (2) the media c:an
\
affect the resolution of life tasks through the l
stimulation of fantasies; and (3) media content mjay
serve as a stimulus for interpersonal discussion [and
consideration of options relevant to the issues o|f
adolescence.


The model developed predicts that each of the
i
constraint sets as well as the uses of the medial
P
content will affect knowledge, values, and behaviors
M
regarding each of the life tasks. j,
In a more extensive study, VandeBerg and Trujillo
(1989) examined prime time portrayals and ^
i
organizational life on television. In one sense; they
J
jj
determined that prime-time television is
hyperbolically unrealistic in that "most prime time
workers experience more organizational action in one
i'
television episode than their real life counterparts
l
experience in one year" (p.241). Yet in another lisense
"television acts as a socializing agent which tea-ches
viewers about life in American society" (p.241).
"In its most positive sense, television provides
It
constructive modes of organizational action which;, may
|'i
inform and change our organization lives while in! it
I*
most negative sense, television often distorts injages
which then creates unrealistic expectations and I
visions which may lead us to resist organizational
change" (p.242). Whether it provides a positive
negative influence, television has acted as one ojf the
agents through which individuals have gained an
understanding of how organizations operate in thej-
i;
America. The possibility exists that these j''
N
in
I
i
or
27


representations offer modeling experiences for viewers
and can then assist organizational researchers j
facilitate dialogues among worker and management!
In a study with younger children, Stroman (1986)
examined the relationship between television exposure
and self-concept among black children. Since
television has been shown to play an important role in
the socialization of children, Stroman suggests that
the roles portrayed by blacks on television can impact
|
the self concept of black children. j,
Although the media plays a part in the early
ii
socialization of children and the long term i
!i
socialization of adults, this is a difficult concept
to examine (McQuail, 1983). The media offers pictures
of life and models of behavior in advance of actual
p,
experience and there is a tendency among children' to
find lessons about life from these pictures and to
l!
connect these to their own experiences (Noble, 19^75).
It was to this end that Stroman (1986) examined iiodels
!,
and self concept among 102 black parochial school
!<
children. Stroman notes that previous studies hayve
suggested that roles in which blacks are cast
communicate the negative value that society placets on
them and the exclusion of blacks from television
as
28


1
destructive to black children's self-concept because
it denies the importance of their existence.
Data were collected in a self report of
television viewing and an operationalization of self-
concept based on the Pier-Harris Children's Self-|.
Concept Scale. Contrary to the research hypotheses
(that there would be a negative relationship betwjjeen
\
the amount of television viewing and self-conceptjj) ,
the study revealed a weak positive relationship I
r
between self-concept and television viewing. j,
The study concluded that television viewing
i
related positively to the self-concept of girls and
was
not boys even though boys watched television more
than
i k e 1 y
girls. Also, Stroman found that boys were more 1
to imitate television characters than girls and
situation comedy was the preferred type of viewing
i
!,
(89% of the girls; 87% of the boys). Black children
in this sample had a very positive attitude towar
blacks appearing on television.
Stroman concluded that the issue was not thej lack
of black role models but rather that even the small
number of black role models on television provided a
positive self-concept to the girls in the study.
To date, much television research has been
conducted examining the relationship of television
29
)


',1
i
4
viewing and aggressive behavior in children. A [review
of the literature provided many studies surveying role
portrayal and stereotyping (Geis, Brown, Jenning
s &
Taylor, 1984; Greenberg, 1980; Zemach & Cohen, 1986)
9
i!
but little work has been completed on the impact!!1 and
|
perception of television role models and the effject of
the role models on attitudes and behavior. !i
Perceived Reality
Perceived reality is the degree of reality [that
1
people see in mediated messages (Potter, 1986). jThe
concept of perceived reality is a critical component
in the examination of media effect; evidence
(Greenberg & Reeves, 1976) shows that attitudes and
beliefs may be learned from watching fictional
material and that perceived reality can act as a
modifier of media effects on those learned attitudes
!|
jj'
and beliefs. j
I
For example, Berkowitz (1984) found that violent
l
scenes, when they are portrayed as real are more):
likely to be acted upon. Greenberg and Reeves (
note that several studies have suggested that
accounting for children's beliefs in the true to
976)
^ 1 i f e
If
30


!-
nature of televised content can increase the
prediction of televisions effects.
Reeves (1978) states that:
the most general expectation about the likely
role of perceived reality is that childrens
attitudes and behaviors are more likely to be
consistent with the content of their television
experiences to the extent television content is
perceived as real life. J
Perceiving program content to be realistic is
assumed to make television more socially useful
and more likely to be assimilated equitably jfwith
information from non-televised sources, (p.682)
However, in a study conducted with 721 fourtih,
sixth and eight graders, Reeves (1978) hypothesized
!
that those children a.t a relatively higher level (of
perceived reality would be most affected by 1
!i
television. Overall, the results of the study were
I;
not supportive of the hypothesis and of the six items
I
examined (physical aggression, verbal aggression^
deceit, altruism, affection, feeling of self and
reparation) only an increase in a prediction of j1
If
affection was discovered and not of other pro or anti
social behaviors. jf
I,1
Determining the degree to which viewers perceive
televised messages as real is a complex process, j,
i;
Gerbner (1973) contended that television, among the
1
modern media, has acquired such a central place in
daily life that it dominates our symbolic environment
31
I


I
i!
substituting its message about reality for personal
.experience and other means of knowing the world.!1
This view of television is also known as the
cultivation theory (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, &
Signorelli, 1980) which provides a framework that
determines the influence of televised messages on
L
viewers. Proponents of the theory contend that
television context exerts a continuous force on
people's minds and thereby influences the way people
, i,
see the world (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorelli,
1'
1980). The degree of the influence of television is
determined by the amount of television that is viewed.
ji
The main evidence for this theory comes from a
I
li,
systematic analysis of program content carried out
over several years and showing content in respect to
s
family, work and roles, aging, death, dying,
1
education, violence, and crime. The second main!1
j,
source of evidence in support of the theory is found
in surveys which contend that increased exposure1to
television coincides with a world view congruent'with
i
the messages found in television (McQuail, 1983)i
|1
Heavy viewers exposed to persistent displays of
violence and mayhem in television drama come to
believe that the real world incidence of such violence
is higher that do light viewers of the same age,rsex,
I.
32


L
education, and social class. Gerbner, Gross, Morgan,
i!
and Signorelli (1980) explain this as the facts |of the
i'
world of television go so far as to become parts!; of
the belief and value system of individuals who are
j
heavy consumers of it. This effect is called j,
"mainstreaming" and is described as a "homogeneijty of
outlook. Their research found that heavy television
i
viewers, regardless of age, education, or incomej
level, provided homogenous outlooks to their beliefs
jii
and values. An example of mainstreaming is provided
by "a recent national survey which showed that 50% of
i
Americans knew who Judge Wapner of the 'People's]
Court* was whereas only 12% knew who Justice William
S
Rehnquist of the United States Supreme Court was]'
(Kubey & Csikszentimihalyi, 1990, p.176). \
('
The second process of the cultivation theory
is resonance or when what people see on television is
most congruent with reality or even perceived reality.
;$
1
For example, heavy television viewers who live in
the city get a double dose of the message about j,
violence (because most televised crime takes place in
the city) and they "resonate" with the message. This
resonance may lead to markedly amplified cultivation
patterns (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorelli, 1;980) .
Although the cultivation hypothesis has been
33


I
l!
supported in several studies (Bryant, Caveth, & Brown,
1981; Hawkins & Pingree, 1980) opponents of the tiheory
contend that "the relationship in the cultivation'
hypothesis does not exist and even though correlation
coefficients are small they are still spuriously high"
(Potter, 1986, p.159). Doob and McDonald (1979) found
that while there was evidence for a cultivation effect
i
with social questions there was little or no effeJct
for personal questions. And Hughes (1980) determined
that there was curvilinear rather than linear
relationships in an examinations of questions set up-
by the cultivation hypothesis. In this study,
moderate viewers seem to be more influenced by
television than heavy or light viewers. [i
In an attempt to examine the cultivation
hypothesis with a different method, Potter (1986)^ used
|l
perceived reality as a contingent variable. Thid' work
|<1
was initiated by the findings of Doob and McDonald
(1979) and Hawkins and Pingree (1980) who contended
that the principal variable in the cultivation
relationship was the degree of reality or perceived
reality that people saw in mediated messages.
Potter (1986) notes that the concept of perceived
reality has received a good deal attention in fouir
lines of research of the television effect research.
34


First, the investigations determining whethjer
* 'i
viewers who watched realistic content would be more
i
j.
affected than viewers who watched fantasy contenjjp.
And while some studies did not find a difference^
(Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963) others did (Berkowitz &
Alioto, 1973). The main difference in the findings of
i
these two studies is a result of whether or not the
i
!'i
subjects were instructed about the reality that t:hey
i,
were about to view. The results of the.studies
indicate that perceived reality is more likely |i,
associated with the individual rather than with the
' j,
message itself. !
j
Second, the research based on the individual
differences perspective which purports that perceived
reality is related to certain characteristics. For
i
example, younger children have higher perceived f
reality than do older children and older adults nave
l'
higher perceived reality than do younger adults
(Greenberg & Reeves, 1976).
Third, the research that treated perceived
reality as an intervening variable between the
stimulus material on television and effects on
viewer's attitudes and behaviors (Pingree, 1978).
h
And fourth, the research based on the concept
\
that perceived reality is not a uni-dimensional i


concept but is based on multi-dimensional perspective.
For example, Greenberg and Reeves (1976) reported that
j,
specificity of stimulus is an important dimension of
i
perceived reality, and maximum reality measures are
obtained when specific television characters are
as referents.
used
The conclusions drawn from this early research
mention that viewers who believe that televised
by it
content is real are more likely to be influenced
than are viewers who believe the content to be I1
!i
stylized or fictionalized; not all viewers share [the
same degree of belief about the reality of a televised
ji
program, especially if they are not instructed about
the degree of reality present; differences in
individuals in the degree to which they perceive
television content are weakly related to some
demographic characteristics (Potter, 1986); and
although perceived realty has been thought to have its
*
greatest impact on children, there is evidence thkt
i
i)
adults also vary in their perceptions of the degrjee of
reality in televised messages (Potter, 1986).
In terms of a conceptualization of reality,
studies used a uni-dimensional definition that
"focuses on a person's attitudes about how isomor
most
phic
media content is to his or her own experiences"


(Potter, 1988, p.26 ). For example, early television
research concentrated specifically on the magic window
I'
theory. If you had a high magic window you perceived
television as a real-life experience and if you had a
!j
low magic window your perception of television reality
i'
was that it did not mirror real life.
j|
Operationalizations of this concept varied by
ll<
researcher. More recent studies have made attempts to
derive at a multi-dimensional approach to reality
conceptualization (Potter, 1986). Reality perception
I
can act as the intervening variable between television
and its effects. For example, what I see on
television may not be real, but there are certain
aspects of what I see that I might apply to real!! life.
The intervening variable acts as a filtering mechanism
|i
for the process of reality conceptualization (Potter,
1986).
If perceived reality contains more than one .
|t
dimension (magic window), Potter believes that tljiree
conditions must be met: (1) there must be evidence
r
that subjects are reacting to more than one concept
when questioned about how much reality they see lin
li
media messages; (2) dimensions that are found mubt be
y
theoretically meaningful (it has been determined!, that
!j
there is a good amount of overlap in the findingb, i
i
37


i.e., magic window, perceived superficiality, utility
j
dimension); and (3) dimensions should be relativjely
!ij
independent from one another. j!
!
Potter (1986) expanded the work of the multi-
I
dimensional perspective of Hawkins (1977) and l|
identified three dimensions upon which one can mjeasure
|i
perceived reality: Magic Window, Instruction, anji
(
Identity. Ij
Magic window is the central component of
perceived reality. It is defined as the literalj
!
belief in the reality of television. It has two!
|
subcomponents: syntax and semantics. Syntax refprs to
a belief in the reality conveyed by the style ofjthe
message. Semantics refers to a belief in the reality
(
embodied in the meaning or substance. ii
|!
Instruction or perceived utility is the belief in
the applicability of' television-conveyed lessons
viewers life. Given a particular program, some
i to a
viewers should feel that they can learn a great deal
vicariously by watching their role models succeed or
' E
fail. Others feel that there are no real-life lessons
is
if
to be learned from watching television programs.fi
II
Identity is the degree of similarity the viewer
!!
ii]
perceives between television characters and situations
i
the people experience in real life. "This dimension
38
I


is based on Banduras (1977b) social learning theory
which states that "people who identi-fy with role
models will be more influenced by the role models than
will those who do not have a feeling of
identification" (Potter, 1986. p. 166).
These dimensions were then used in a study Which
examined the cultivation effect as it related toj
subjects perceptions of violence in the everyday
i
world. The results indicated that although there were
no significant relationships established to support
the cultivation hypothesis, when relationships wire
|
analyzed within contingent groupings of sub jects who
were partitioned on perceived reality dimensions,;
there was evidence to support the cultivation of [
beliefs. The study concluded that "the amount of
exposure to television seemed to be far less important
'/
than the attitudes and perceptions of the individuals
being exposed" (Potter, 1986, p.172). j?
Perceived reality has been examined in !
|.
relationship to active (Elliot & Slater, 1980) and
attribute variables (Greenberg & Reeves, 1976).
Active variables are those that exert a shaping or
j,
developmental influence on a person's perception fJof
reality. They can include real life experiences,1
television exposure, television viewing motives, and
39


IQ. Attribute variables are classifiers of
|j
individuals such as demographics, indicators of race,
i
I
and age. However, in an examination of this ij!
ij
j!
literature Potter (1988) notes that "it cannot be
!;
convincingly argued that these variables exert an
i
active influence on perceptions of reality" (p.29).
There have been four assumptions underlying
ithe
study of perceived reality that are challenged in
E
Potter's (1988) discussion. First, early studies of
i
j
people's perceptions of reality of mediated material
il
were based on an assumption that media content
1
contains cues that alert viewers to the degree ofj
reality in those messages. It is now generally |
jj
assumed that it is possible that there will be a !wide
range of reality perceptions among groups of people.
I?
Secondly, there is an assumption of linearity in fthis
!
literature. It is suggested that future perceived
reality tests look for curvilnear relationships.
Third, studies are based on an assumption that th|e
only measures of perceived reality and television^
exposure are global ones. And fourth, there is tlhe
assumption that perceived reality is a uni-dimensjional
i'
I,
concept that is limited to a magic window idea. 11
Although perceived reality of television hasj been
investigated by correlating it with viewer's level of
40


ji
i
£
u
l'
i
f
i'
perceived violence in society (Potter, 1986), by!
examining it as a predictor of children's social j<
behavior (Reeves, 1978), and by considering it as
i
construct in mass communication theory (McQuail,
i;
1983), there is a lack of research examining the I
perceived reality of mediated messages and the
relationship of those messages to viewer behavior.
n
Research also needs to be conducted with content
* (i
issues, relational issues, and generational issues
f
(Potter, 1988) of these messages. j>
Self-Efficacy Ij
Bandura ( 1977a) has defined self-efficacy as< the
. (
strengths of one s convictions that he or she canj'
|
successfully execute a behavior required to produce
certain outcomes. The relevance of self-efficacy! in
this study is its relationship to role models as I:
perceived on television situation comedy. The j|
Ij
question considered is if exposure to television role
models increase one's self-efficacy beliefs. j
Bandura notes that "expectations of personal
mastery affect both initiation and persistence of
behavior. The strength of people's convictions in
jl
their own effectiveness is likely to affect whether
they will even try to cope with given situations. |i At
41


this initial level, perceived self-efficacy influences
the choice of behavioral settings... efficacy !,
expectations determine how much effort people wijll
r
expend and how long they will persist in the fac|e of
obstacles and aversive experiences. The strongejr the
j'
perceived self-efficacy, the more active the (
effort"(pp.193-194).
Although Bandura (1977a) contends that feelings
|
of personal efficacy tend to generalize to otherj*
similar performances, self-efficacy is not viewed as a
s
global personality trait. Rather, self-efficacy]1;
k
expectations change depending upon the situation',* the
task, and the previous experience of the individual.
i)
For example, I may have high confidence level during a
job interview but a lower confidence level while !
playing golf (or vice versa).
Self-efficacy theory has been substantiated
across many disciplines including sports performance
f
(Weinberg, Gould, and Jackson, 1979), sales |j
performance (Barling & Beattie, 1983), interpersonal
i1'
standard setting (Kafner & Zeiss, 1983), goals and
task strategies as they affect task performance ],
r
(Frederick & Bobko, 1983), the impact of conceptions
1
of ability on self-regulatory mechanisms and compjlex
decision making (Wood & Bandura, 1989), and snakej
42 L
!
p


handling (Bandura, Adams, & Beyer, 1977). A myriad
of studies have documented the link between self!;-
efficacy and behavioral intentions, persistence ,i> and
i'
achievement (Gorrell, 1990). j
Bandura (1977a) states that expectations ofj<
j
personal efficacy are derived from four principal
sources of information: performance accomplishments,
vicarious experience, verbal accomplishments, and
psychological states. The more dependable the ;
I,
experiential sources, the greater are the changes in
ii
perceived self-efficacy. Although.actual performance
Ij
by the participant rates the highest in dependability
B
(i.e., if I handle a snake myself my efficacy is[
ii
raised considerably), the other sources of information
i'fl
can enhance efficacy beliefs. |
h
j'
Vicarious experience as a source of information
i
can most closely be compared with televised J,
situations. In this model, people do not rely oh
j1
experi need mastery as the sole source of information
i'
I
concerning their level of self-efficacy but rather
depend upon seeing others perform threatening tasjks
without adverse consequences expectations. This
activity generates in observers the belief that they
too will improve if they intensify and persist in'
their efforts. In other words, they persuade j|
[
!l
43


themselves that if others can do it, they should jibe
able to achieve some improvement in their performance
(Bandura & Barab, 1973).
Verbal persuasion is widely used to influence
people because of its ease and availability; however,
it tends to be a weaker influence because it does not
provide an authentic reality base for people.
Emotional arousal, such as relaxation, bio-!
feedback, and symbolic desensitization can also aiffect
perceived efficacy in tljat people rely partly on [their
state of physiological arousal in judging their
anxiety and vulnerability to stress.
i
Of these conditions for efficacy change, the, most
investigated is the influence of modeling and will be
the agent investigated in this study. The modelling
|
1
influence will be provided by an episode of a
i
television situation comedy. While there is situjation
specific modeling (a job interview) highlighted i!n the
show, the entire episode contains information relevant
to the topic and will be used as the vicarious
experience. Successful models raise individuals'
beliefs that they can also perform the activity. For
example, Schunk and Hanson (1985) in a series of
li
studies with low-math aptitude children noted that
I
peer models attempting to learn a subtraction ski
44
i


had a more positive influence on children's self-
efficacy beliefs than did teaching models.
Kazdin (1974) provides supportive evidence j'-of
this as well in his study which showed that observing
h
|{
someone perform activities that meet with success
does, indeed, produce greater behavioral improvements
than witnessing the same improvements modeled without
any evident consequences.
Although it has not been investigated at thj-is
level, this theory provides the basis for the |j
possibility that the genre of situation comedy, jin
!,i
!'
which solutions are presented for problems in thirty
minute segments, could indeed influence behavioral
improvements.
I
The strength of people's convictions in their own
ji
effectiveness is likely to affect whether they will
even try to cope with a given situation. People
fear
and tend to avoid threatening situations they believe
'i
exceed their coping skills, whereas they get involved
in activities and behave assuredly when they judge
themselves capable of handling situations that would
ii
otherwise be intimidating. |
The capacity to exercise control over one's-:
thought processes, motivation and action is a i.
45


distinctly human characteristic. Therefore, it
follows that people can affect change in themselves
and their situations through their own efforts
(Bandura, 1989).
However, people are neither autonomous agents nor
simply mechanical conveyors of animating environmental
influences. Self-efficacy beliefs stand among th;e
central mechanisms of personal agency in people's
beliefs that they can exercise control over events
that control their lives (Bandura, 1989).
People with a high sense of self-efficacy rejmain
task oriented in the face of judgmental failures land
visualize success scenarios they construct and
reiterate. Bandura (1989) notes that there is a
growing body of evidence that human attainments and
j
positive well being require an optimistic sense ojf
personal efficacy; people must have a robust sensfe of
I
personal efficacy if they are to succeed.
Although Bandura contends that feelings of personal
efficacy tend to generalize to other similar
performances, he does not view self-efficacy as a
global personality trait. Rather, self-efficacy
expectations may change depending on the situation,
the task and the previous experience of the
individual.
46


Hackett and Betz (1981) suggest that self-;
efficacy beliefs influence career decisions and
achievements, partly determining peoples range of
i'i
perceived options, their success and their persistence
i
in those options. Gorrell (1990) notes that perceived
|.
self-efficacy operates as a mediating influence on
!!
behavior and affects not only whether or not one rwill
j
engage in the behavior but how much effort will be
i'i
I
r1
expended. This is important because if people are not
thoroughly convinced of their personal efficacy j
they rapidly abandon the skills they have been taught
jk
when they fail to get quick results. B.andura (19|89)
notes:
. . people who believe strongly in their prcKblem
solving capabilities remain highly efficient in
their analytic thinking in complex decision
making situations. Those who are plagued with
self doubt are erratic in their analytic [
thinking. Quality of analytic thinking j.
determines the level of performance jt
accomplishment, (p.734)
The relationship of self-efficacy and modeling
I.'
influences, specifically mediated role models as !j
presented on television is examined in this study
m a
situation specific -context, specifically job seeking
success.
It is to that end that this study will look, lat
self-efficacy beliefs. Although self-efficacy th
eor y
47


provides a framework for examining the effects
o
f
self-confidence on performance, only limited research
|l
ll|
has been conducted to test its prediction and none has
ji
conducted in terms of the impact of mediated j:
communication on such beliefs. ?
General Conclusions
You look like the tube
you eat like the tube.
'I
you dress like the tube,
1
Howard Beale
'
While the admonitions of Paddy Chayefsky's ji
j'
character from the film Network provide an exaggerated
case for the imitative powers of television, the
impact of mediated messages on our culture, beliefs,
S
and attitudes has been deemed very important and jhas
become the subject of research by scholars from many
ji
disciplines. More Americans now have televisionjthan
refrigerators or plumbing (Kubey & Csikszentmihai'yi,
r
1990). I
I,'
The National Institute of Mental Health (19&2)
!
reports that for many people leisure time means t!,he
same as television time. One may ask then if thei role
I-!
models that were previously received through !'
interpersonal contacts are now attained through
I!
mediated messages? And furthermore, if that is tlhe
48


case, then how do those messages affect self-efficacy
beliefs? This study examines the impact of
those messages. The hypotheses under study are:
H;l Subjects who view a tape with a mediated role
model will have higher self-efficacy scores
than subjects who do not view the tape. I
H2 For subjects who view the tape there will b!e a
i
direct relationship between the perceived
reality dimension of magic window and
self-efficacy.
H3 For subjects who view the tape there will b.e a
direct relationship between the perceived
reality dimension of instruction and
self-efficacy scores.
H4 For subjects who view the tape there will be a
direct relationship between the perceived
reality dimension of identity and self-efficacy
scores.
The study will develop a model design which
examines the relationship of mediated messages of
49
role
I


models on television situation comedy to viewer 'self-
|.
efficacy beliefs. The model design will measure *
subjects perceived reality of mediated messages and
self-efficacy level. [
This chapter has provided a literature review of
the concepts of role models, perceived reality of
i
mediated messages, and self-efficacy beliefs as'those
r i
concepts relate to the study being examined. j(
The following chapter will examine the
methodology used to conduct the study. Topics ijnclude
I] i
the development of the apparatus, the pilot test!*, and
i
the procedures for the study. !


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
The general concept being examined is the |
i
i,
relationship of role models as perceived on television
l,
i
situation comedy and self-efficacy beliefs. The|
specific topic of job seeking skills was' chosen jto be
i
examined in the current study. A research modelj,
Ii
developed to explore this relationship, was empljpyed.
A standard before and after design structure was
utilized in the development of the model. Because the
nature of the study was concerned with information
i!
provided by role models in situation comedies an^d the
ii
*
impact of that information upon self-efficacy beliefs
J
(specifically confidence in job seeking skills), ||
ii
program content and apparatus for this study were
I
designed to meet the needs of the phenomena under
question.
This chapter will examine the development of the
|
model and will discuss the apparatus, the situation
comedy episode, the independent, dependent and '
contingent variables, the pilot study, the study|; the
procedures followed, 'and the methods used in the
statistical analysis.


I
Model Design
The research model has four components: a
television inventory survey, a perceived real it 3;
survey, a situation comedy episode with informahion
I:!
specific to the topic being examined, and a self-
j!
efficacy confidence scale, also with questions j
specific to the topic being examined. j;
In the study, the control and the experimental
i:
group complete all surveys and scales. However! the
experimental group is exposed to the situation
television comedy episode (the mediated message! prior
to completing the self-efficacy scale. j
i'
The model design allows for components three and
?
four (the situation comedy episode and the self|
i
efficacy scale) to be modified specific to the topic
being examined. For example, the context may change
from job seeking skills to how to handle an
interpersonal problem by changing the context of these
two components. This allows the model to examine a
variety of phenomena presented in mediated messages
and to determine their effects upon receivers, Irith a
specific context utilized for each area of j;
f
investigation.
52


Development of Apparatus
\
The following three measures were utilized jin the
study
I'
I'1
1. The Television Survey Questionnaire was f
developed specifically for the study. Its prima
ry
purpose is to gather demographic information andji, data
i
jj
related to frequency of television viewing, prog'ram
ji
preference, and information concerning exposure to the
training offered by the vocational school (see ji
Appendix A). The criteria used to develop the si
j
were based on criteria used by other researchers!
ur vey
\
i .
i m
*
their examination of prime time television viewing,
(Comstock, Chaffee, Katzman, McCombs & Roberts, ll978)
2. Potter's Perceived Reality Scale which
measured the multiple dimensions of perceived rejality:
magic window, which is the belief in the reality of
IJ
television (questions 1-7); instruction, which is the
1
jl
belief that one can learn from televised information
{
(questions 8-14); and identity, which is the jj
I
identification with a television character (questions
14-20) (see Appendix B). These items are measured on
II
a Likert scale (1 = strongly agree, 5 = strongly|
j
disagree), so that the higher the score, the lower the
I
degree of perceived reality. The items and scales
if
I
,1
i
53


9
have been used in at least four other studies ( e;. g
I
Potter, 1982a; 1982b) and have resulted in Cronbach
alpha coefficients of .77 to .86 (Potter, 1986).j
Cronbach's Alpha is one of the most commonly used
i
reliability coefficients. Alpha is based on the
"internal" consistency of a test. That is, it is
based on the average correlation of items within] a
test, if the items are standardized to a standard
deviation of one; or on the average covariance among
items on a scale, if the items are not standardised
i*
(such as the Perceived Reality Scale). The aver'age
!l
jl
correlation of an item with all the other items in the
I
|i
scale tells us about the extent of the common entity.
I
If the items are not positively correlated with Jeach
])
other, then there is no reason to believe that they
li
are correlated with other possible items that ma'y have
ji
been selected. A coefficient of .77 to .86 determines
i
\
a high reliability measure of the scale. At the]
ji
suggestion of the author of the scale (J.W. Potter,
l,
personal communication, November, 1989), contempjorary
situation comedy items were inserted in place of1dated
f
programs and characters. Previous testing showejd that
the more specific the measure, for example naming
specific television shows and characters, the more
54
|i


r
successful was the measure in determining perceived
reality.
3. The Self-Efficacy Scale asked eight questions
i1
concerning level of confidence related to job seeking
j
skills (see Appendix C) Degree of confidence i's
i;
ij
rated by recording a number from 0 to 100 using a
scale from, "cannot do at all" to "certainly can'do."
i
Questions were developed s-pecific to job seeking'
i
skills because as Bandura maintains there is no all
purpose measure of self-efficacy ("Microanalytic").
He notes that all purpose measures usually have
limited explanatory or predictive value because ja
fixed set of items may not have much relevance t|p the
domain of functioning that is being studied. An]
omnibus test is usually cast in a general form,
leaving much ambiguity about what is being measured.
It is recommended that scales of self-efficacy die
i;:
i
tailored to the particular domain of functioning!' that
i<
is the object of interest. Therefore, a tailored
measure of confidence has been designed around job
seeking skills. This microanalytic methodology can be
i
i1'
generalized across specific areas of interest j
("Microanalytic" ) . [
i
A Cronbach alpha coeffiecient of .74 was j
determined for this measure. Even with a. measure with
55


this high of a correlation coefficient, it must be
j1
noted that the Self-Efficacy questionnaire may be
addressing more than one issue in each question.]
While Bandura notes that there is no global measure of
i<
!|
self-efficacy, the specificity of the microanalytic
1
I,
self-efficacy measure may result in a low correlation
coefficient because of the difficulty of constructing
fr
f
questions which provide a single measure. As a i
ji
result, in this model, additional tests of reliability
r
and validity need to be conducted on the specific
measures of self-efficacy.
Television Situation Comedy Program |
!
A popular television situation comedy with a plot
related to employment and an employment interviejw was
11
chosen for the study. See Appendix D for an annotated
j
script of the program content. ],.
Although the character was unsuccessful in jthe
!!
job interview, this episode was chosen because a|s
I
Bandura (1989) notes: ji
...when faced with difficulties, people who| are
beset about their capabilities slacken their
efforts or abort their attempts prematurelyj and
quickly settle for mediocre solutions, while
those who have a strong belief in their j
capabilities exert greater effort to masterj their
challenge... strong perseverance pays off in
performance accomplishment." (pg.1176)


The program content also deals with a number of issues
concerned with unemployment and job seeking including
self-esteem, preparation for the employment interview,
expectations, and matching your skills with the iob
you are seeking.
A situation comedy was chosen for the study
rather than for example, a program with dramatic!
content, not only because the situation comedy is the
most popular genre on television but also because it
currently serves as the mythic storyteller in our
i
society (Carey, 1988). Its popularity is based on
everything coming out okay for a group of characters
with whom we are familiar and with whom we can i
identify (Mintz, 1985). So although, the character
>1
was unsuccessful, the plot portrayed resilience and
problem solving rather than desperation and lack
of
I
movement.
The structure of the sitcom, the thirty minute
self-contained episode which revolves around a single

umbrella plot (Hough, 1981) also allows for the fjocus
of a specific situation which is integral to the '
development of the model under study. i
/
i
57


Independent, Dependent, and Contingent Variables
The independent variable in this study is tlhe
f
episode of the television situation comedy. Trie
dependent variable is the self-efficacy measure jas it
relates to job seeking skills.
The contingent variable is the measure of
perceived reality of mediated messages. For exa'mple,
if I have a high belief in any of one of the
dimensions of perceived reality, my confidence level
will be greater after I receive the message thari a
person who receives the same message yet has a low
belief in televised messages. Thus, my confidence is
|
contingent upon how real I view the message. Other
contingent variables include amount of television
viewing and job seeking skill training experience,
which are also investigated in this study. j!
Pilot Study
A pilot study was conducted to insure the
measures were understandable and that the study design
operationalized the construct under study. Subjects
I
for the pilot were recruited from an undergraduate
psychology research class. The twenty student
volunteers were randomly assigned to Group A
58


(experimental) and Group B (control). See Table
3.1
for information regarding the pilot study population.
Table 3.1. Pilot Study, Demographic Information
Gender
Male
Female
16
Race
White
18
Other
19-30
31-45
19 1
Hours of Television per Day
1-2
3-4
12
Subjects in both groups completed the Television
Inventory and Perceived Reality Scales. See Table 3.2
for means and standard deviations of perceived
reality.
Table 3.2. Pilot Study, Means and Standard Devi
of Perceived Reality
ations
Perceived Reality M SD
Magic Window 3.9 .63
Instruction 4.0 .79
Identity 3.5 .93
i
|
Note. Perceived reality scores ranged from 1 (high
realism) to 5 (low realism).
59


I
Subjects in Group A then viewed the tape of the
i
television situation comedy with the mediated message
i
concerning job seeking skills; both groups then i
completed the self-efficacy questionnaire. A t-test
!
was administered to determine if there was a j
r
i
relationship between the mediated message and thie
|]
results of the self-efficacy measure. See Tablej 3.3.
Table 3.3. Pilot Study, T-Test for Self-Efficacy
______________________________________________________jj____
n M
SD t 1 tail
value Prob*
l;
Group A 12 80.7
Group B 8 88.8
*p <.05 is significant
8.2
6.6
-2.14
.0
6*
The pilot study was performed to determine if the
apparatus and the study design operationalized the
constructs under examination. The students were asked
to fill out the confidence scales as if they were
I
going to be looking for a job. While the pilot ('was
not expected to provide significant results, the t-
test for self-efficacy did show a level of j
significance between Groups A and B. The measures
were determined to be understandable and the study
j
design operationalized the construct being examined.
60


Following the pilot study, a large public |
i
vocational school was contacted and permission was
|
requested to conduct the study with students who'jwere
I!
enrolled in vocational training programs and who1would
be seeking employment.upon completion of their
n
training. After a review of the study apparatus', the
administration of the school granted permission for
I
the study. The Job Skills Training Coordinator for
i!
the school reviewed the self-efficacy scale and j
i1
concurred that the questions covered the necessary
areas of confidence re'lative to going out and looking
for a job. Minor adjustments in wording were malcie to
the questionnaires to insure understandability b
students.
Study
y the
Subjects |
Subjects for the study were recruited from jthe
i
vocational school with the help of the Job Skill|s
Training Coordinator. A general announcement wajs made
in the Job Seeking Skills Training Seminar, whicjh is a
voluntarily attended class, and throughout the j1
.1
tj
institution. Students were accepted into the stludy on
a "first come, first served" basis. Each subject
received $5.00 for participation in the study,
See
61


Table 3.4 for subject demographics. Of the fortjy-two
subjects, the average age was 33, there were 6 mjore
t
females than males, and the majority of racial groups
were represented except for the Asian population].
Table 3.4. Study, Demographic Information 1 !' i'
Gender Age i i
Male Female
19-3
31-45 46-63
63 +
18 24 23 18 3
Race
White Hispanic Black Native
18 12 7 3
Hours of Television per Day
1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8
10 22 8 2
Education
11 12 13 14
1 24 16 1
Procedures
Subjects were randomly assigned to Group A
(experimental) and Group B (control)-by using a jj
j!l
jc
randomization table to assign group numbers. Both
groups were told that they were participating in a
study that was examining television viewing and
that
62


they would be asked questions about television.
Subjects first completed the Television Survey [
Questionnaire and then the Perceived Reality Scales.
During this time, subjects were encouraged to ask for
clarification if they did not understand the f,
l
questionnaires.
Following the completion of these questionnaires,
]
Group B was taken to another room where they completed
the Self-Efficacy Scale.
Group A remained in the classroom and were jthen
instructed that they were going to view a tape of a
I
situation comedy. The tape had been edited fori
commercials and this provided about eighteen minutes
of viewing. Following the viewing of the tape the
1
subjects completed the Self-Efficacy Scale. No ,
discussion followed the viewing of the tape. j
Statistical Analysis [
j
A statistical analysis was performed for each
l
hypothesis proposed. j
The first hypothesis stated that subjects v\jho
view a tape with a mediated role model will havej
higher self-efficacy scores than subjects who doj not
view the tape. This hypothesis was tested by j,
conducting a one-tailed t-test for two independent
63


samples between the self-efficacy beliefs of Groiup A
I;,
and Group B. . j,
i,
The second, third, and fourth hypotheses ea^ch
state that for subjects who view the tape there twill
P
be a direct relationship between self-efficacy stores
and magic window, instruction, and identity. Thjese
relationships were examined with the use of a Ptarson-
I
Ij
Product Moment Correlation. !.
The following chapter will provide the results of
these statistical analyses.
i
I!
J
i
\
\
j
i
|1
i
i
ii
i
i
i
j
64
f


CHAPTER A
RESULTS
The main purpose of the study was to explore the
I
relationship of role models as perceived on television
|]
situation comedy to self-efficacy beliefs. Results of
the study showed no significant relationship between
self-efficacy beliefs and the viewing of a tape
of a
television situation comedy compared to self-efficacy
ii
beliefs of subjects who did not -view the tape. |
!
Further results showed no relationship between
perceived reality of the message and self-efficacy
beliefs. In this chapter, the statistical analysis of
each hypothesis is examined. ji
Analysis of Hypotheses
Hypothesis 1
Hi Subjects who view a tape with a mediated role
j>
model will have a higher self-efficacy average
score than subjects who do not view the
tape
As shown in Table 4.1, the results of the t-test did
|i
not provide significant results between the self'-
ll
efficacy scores of the control and the experimental
group. Therefore the Hj cannot be supported.
I


!
Table A. 1 . T-Test for Self-Efficacy ! -
n M SD t 1 tail
value Prob* 1 ,1
Group A 21 63.8 11.5
Group B 21 61.6 16.5 . A7 .32
* p <.05 is significant
Hypotheses 2, 3, A (See Table A.2) j
1
H2 For subjects who view the tape there will be
a direct relationship between the percLived
reality dimension of magic window and 'self-
efficacyscores.
i
H3 For subjects who view the tape there will be
a direct relationship between the percLived
I
reality dimension of instruction and self-
efficacy scores.
H4 For subjects who view the tape there will be
a direct relationship between the perce'ived
L
reality dimension of identity and self-|
efficacy scores.
66


Table 4.2. Pearson- Product-Moment Correlations for
Perceived Reality and Self-Efficacy i;
Perceived Reality
Magic Window
Instruction
Identity
Self-Efficacy Scores
r = -.2034
(p =.188)
r = -.1144
(p =.311)
r = -.1954
(p =.198)
,1 .
The resulting correlation coefficients show a sliight
* ji
relationship between each factor examined; therefore,
i'
hypotheses 2, 3, and 4 are not supported.
Additional Results
I!
Although no hypothesis was posited for the jamount
of television watched and levels of self-efficadj,
\
previous research has indicated a slight relationship
for the cultivation theory and perceived reality.
(Potter, 1986). Therefore, a Mann-Whitney U tes,t was
i
conducted between the self-efficacy scores of heavy
television viewers and light television viewers.
Light
viewers (two hours per day of viewing or less) were
j!
defined as one standard deviation below the mean of
I
j
3.5 hours and heavy viewers were defined as thosle who
67


viewed one standard deviation above the mean (or
hours per day or more). See Table 4.3 for the j
I
results.
Table 4.3. Amount of TV Viewing/Self Efficacy
Relationships
5.2
n Self-Efficacy z Mean f Score* i
Heavy viewers 5 52.70 -.166
Light viewers 10 63.03 \ J
* a z-score of >1.96 is significant * 1 t
No significant relationship occurred between amo i unt of
television viewing and self-efficacy beliefs.
A discussion of the results of the statistical
analyses is conducted in the following chapter, j*
ii
This discussion will include not only a brief ,
i
examination of the lack of significance found ini', the
ii
!j
analyses but also directions for future research!' on
f
the relationship of role models and mediated messages.
68
i
|


CHAPTER 5
I?
:i'
DISCUSSION i|
r
I,
r
This chapter focuses on three areas: (1) a
j;
general discussion of the results of the study, f
(2) suggested modifications for the testing model, and
(3) implications for future research. [
i!
if
Discussion of Results j!
In general, the results of the. study did nqt
i
provide evidence for support of the predicted r.
\
relationship between role models as perceived on
ii
television situation comedy and self-efficacy beliefs.
Although modeling or imitation techniques have proved
ii
successful in predicting and affecting behaviorjchange
|
(Bandura, 1977a), the mediated message used in tjjhe
current study did not produce a significant difference
in the scores of the self-efficacy beliefs of the
subjects who viewed the tape when compared to the
{
self-efficacy beliefs of subjects who were not exposed
to the tape.
u
i
ii
There are several explanations for the study not
j
providing support for the proposed hypotheses, i 0 f the
I
possible reasons, five factors are discussed in
i
relation to the first hypothesis. j;


First, it is possible that there is not a
relationship between the phenomena under examination.
This lack of relationship could be attributed to, the
j,
methodology employed and the measurements used. js For
example, a single showing of a mediated message fmay
|i
not be the best method with which to test the impact
j!
of that message. A refinement of the research ti;Ools
l
and model design used in this study may provide |,more
li
significant results. Additional consideration also
(I
must given to the how the model design may affec't the
subject's perception of the televised message. jThe
model may need to be tested in both a natural j
1,1
I.
l*
environment and also in a setting where subjects are
informed that the mediated message is intended to
I"
provide them with topic specific information. Ij
u
The second factor that may have contributed to
I.
these results is the content of the mediated message.
While the situation comedy episode that was used dealt
with a job search, interviewing techniques, and
interpersonal relations with family and friends
concerning the job search, the character in the^
episode was not successful in her job search.
However, at the end of thirty minutes, although
failure had been experienced, the character displayed
resilience and tenacity.
70


The failure of the character may have had a
negative effect on the self-efficacy beliefs of those
who viewed the tape. Also, although the situation
comedy used was consistently rated number one and two
in television rating polls and was also used injj the
perceived reality measures, this specific character
f
may have not had a positive influence on the receivers
of the mediated message.
A third possible contributing factor is the
1
administration of the study. A standard laboratory
setting was used. Kubey and Czikszentmihalyi (1990)
criticize this type of media research because the
i;
setting itself may "interact directly with the |i
ji
measurements of cognitive and emotional involvement
and that the laboratory experience itself distorts the
viewing experience" (p.47). Naturalistic research is
recommended by several communication scholars
including Neisser (1976) and Anderson (1980).
However, because this design is concerned with a
i
specific situation, the setting will not be altered
for the model; yet, consideration is given to effects
of the laboratory on the subjects.
Fourth, the self-efficacy scale as administered
I
may not have adequately operationalized the construct.
I
The Cronbach alpha of .74 indicated reliability j* within
71
f


the measure. However, each question may be measuring
more than more than self-efficacy beliefs. Preiand
i|
post test measures of self-efficacy may also need to
be employed to offset a one time test taking }'
occurrence.
Fifth, Bandura (1977a) notes that self-efficacy
i I;
beliefs are influenced by four methods: performance
I
accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal ij
jj
persuasion, and psychological states. This stujdy only
I
Examined vicarious experience as a mode of influence.
With the inclusion of the other modes into the model,
|
the additions may provide the support to enhancje self-
efficacy beliefs.
Further hypotheses which predicted perceivied
'I;
reality of mediated messages as a contingent variable
i,
affecting self-efficacy beliefs were also not j1
supported by evidence in the study. However, the
correlation coefficients (r=-.20, r=-.ll, r=.19)
i
indicate that there is some relationship between
perceived reality of mediated messages and self|-
,5
I
efficacy beliefs. While the relationship is small,
the correlations demonstrate that with some
individuals perceived reality acts as a contingent
r1
variable when related to self-efficacy beliefs. This
relationship was found in each of the dimensions of
72


perceived reality. This supports the research efforts
i
of Potter (1986) which have indicated that perceived
li
reality may act as a contingent variable in the
examination of effects of mediated messages.
These results, although slight, also support the
!,i
|l|
contentions of Gerbner, Gross, Morgan and Signorelli
(1980) and Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi (1990) that
:
there is some mainstreaming of televised information
(i|
into the American culture. Of particular concern to
this study is the relationship of the mediated
messages of role models to self-efficacy beliefs. The
!
correlation coefficients of -.11 for instruction and
-.19 for identity provide evidence to support the
I
l-
suggestion that some viewers are receiving role|model
information from television and that there is a
relationship between that information and their ]self-
efficacy beliefs. This evidence may lead one to
conclude that the role model information may provide
viewers with modeling techniques for specific
situations
The amount of television watched and its
dominant place in contemporary culture must be
attended to in a positive manner.
f
It is to this end that educators may want to
develop a "How to Watch Television" curriculum so that
i
viewers might be aware of the modeling techniques
73


presented on television. This type of class may
also
then
hose
ngent
an
provide a method to viewers which would help them m&ke
television a better experience and by which television
time would not result in boredom or anxiety. If
television is the central storyteller in society
attention needs to be paid to how we listen to t
stories.
The following discussion examines the conti
variable of perceived reality in terms of the me
ranks of perceived reality and the effect of age',
viewer sophistication, amount of viewing, and
educational level upon the results of the statis
analysis.
First, the mean ranks of the perceived real
measures in the study were magic window (4.0), t
lowest, instruction (3.3), and identity (2.9), t
highest. These multi-dimensional measures provi
information that indicates that while subjects d
strongly believe what they saw on television sit
comedies (magic window), it is possible that the
able learn something from the programs (instruct
and also that they might be able to identify wit
characters (identity). The mean ranks provide m
support for the suggestion that identity is a st
dimension than either instruction or magic window.
74
t i c a 1
i

ity
he
i
he
de
)
id not
uation
y were
*
ion) .
i
h the
f
ild
l
ronger
\


This slight relationship indicates that mediated;
messages provide role model perception and possilble
influence on behavior and attitudes.
tl
l
Second, in regard to age affecting measure of
perceived reality, only one study with adults ha,s been
|i
conducted in this area. Its findings indicate tl'hat
l
younger children have higher perceptions of reality
|,
than older children, and older adults have higher
perceptions of reality than younger adults (Pottj'er,
1988) . Based on these results, since the median; age
of this study was 33 years old, perhaps a stronger
ii
M
measure of perceived reality would have been fou.nd in
I)
a different age group, for example, with senior j(
citizens. [
(
I
Fourth, one might consider increased, viewer
L
sophistication as a contributing factor to a lowj magic
window. Sophisticated viewing techniques include the
56.4% of American homes which now have cable
television and an increase of television homes with
r
VCRs from 4.3% in 1982 to 65.8% in 1989 (Nielseni,
I,
i'1
1989) . With the addition of cable and VCR's, viewers
may have a tendency to be less believing of
television.
1
Fifth, heavy viewers of television did not 1
j*
experience higher average scores of self-efficacjy nor
75


higher measures of perceived reality. In fact, ll'ight
television viewers demonstrated higher scores of sself-
i
efficacy on the whole. This contradicts previous
i
research in which perceived reality of television was
found to be a contingent variable in an. examination of
the cultivation hypothesis (Potter, 1986). 1
G
Finally, level of education played a minor ijiole
I.
in the perceived reality measure. The college j,.
i,
students in the pilot scored slightly.lower on the
measures than the students from the vocational school.
This might indicate a very slight relationship between
educational level and perceived reality.
While the results did not provide significant
I,
support for the hypotheses predicted, the model did
operationalize the constructs under study. The next
section provides suggested modifications for the
design.
jmodel
Suggestions for Model Design
This research model is designed to test media
effects on a specific topic with a specific jj,
ll
population. For example, one may show an episode on
the issues around weight loss to people involved in a
I
weight loss program and determine if there are any
s
effects on the self-efficacy beliefs of receivers'.
76
i


The same model could be used for other topics
including interpersonal interactions, parental/child
communications, and societal problems that are i
concerned with drug abuse, alcoholism, and racism.
|
The first suggested modification to the mod^l is
related to the measurement of self-efficacy beliefs.
As previously mentioned, there are four modes of
influence upon self-efficacy beliefs: performance
ij
accomplishment, vicarious beliefs, verbal persua'sion,
jl
and emotional states. While vicarious experience is
the only mode measured in the current design, an;
i
additional measure may provide stronger evidencei', for
self-efficacy measures. For example, the emotional
state mode could be incorporated in the research'model
with an additional measure like the Profile of Moods
)
States (POMS). The POMS, a general mood predictor,
i
would be administered in conjunction with the Sejlf-
ii
Efficacy Scale and would measure dominant, predictable
1
moods of the subjects while they are taking the test
f
(McNair, 1980). This would control for subject mood
\
states which might affect self-efficacy scores. ;For
example, one might not feel particularly confident on
aspecificday. |
The second suggested modification is the
inclusion of additional construct validation fori| the
77


perceived reality measures. Potter (1988) sugge
that this effort occur with both attribute and a
sts
ctive
variables. Current concepts about perceived reality
are only based upon one or two studies. The current
study did provide a positive correlation between1 each
I
measure of the perceived reality dimension (r=.4'4,
jl
r=.45, r=.43) and supports the concept as a multji-
|(
dimensional factor. However, additional construct
7 ]<
I
measures may include amount of contact with j1
interpersonal sources be measured and related to' each
II
dimension as well as the establishment of empirical
|l
relationships for each concept related to perceived
reality including IQ, demographics, and experience
i'
with television (Potter, 1988). |
Third, other variables which could contribute to
the contingent effect of perceived reality on a
j<
viewers attitudes and behaviors need to be examined.
These include such concepts a locus of control,
authoritarianism, anomie, and degree of contact:with
others (Potter, 1988). These suggestions will
strengthen the construct of perceived reality ah a
L
contingent variable in the model design. f
i*
The final suggested modification to the model is
j<
an expansion to the design which would include a four
\
way design. In this mode there would be four groups:
78
I


a control group, two groups who would see shows
dealing with the specific topic but with two different
|i
solutions, and one group who would see a show with a
j
message not relevant to the study. This design would
allow the examination of content effects as well as
other contingencies upon which to judge self-efficacy
and might control for the laboratory experience.
Although this research is concerned with
situation specific information and each viewer brings
their own agenda to the media experience, it can be
noted that there is a possibility that a common
experience may occur '(Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi jl990) .
So that although this study cannot be generalizejd
across the population, most television is watche|!i in a
naturalistic setting. Therefore, consideration must
l
be given to the possibility of some effect on some
viewers who are not concerned with the specific [topic.
For example, even if I am not concerned with losjkng
weight myself, I might become more sensitive to
overweight people after viewing a topic-specific'
episode.
Implications for Future Research
While the current study did not provide
significant results of the hypotheses proposed, lit
79


does suggests that further research is necessary) to
determine the effects of televised messages on t|he
self-efficacy beliefs of adults. Issues to be j
j
considered in future research in this area include the
following suggestions.
First, additional research studies conducted with
|i
adult television viewers to determine if there is an
i'
i1
impact of role model perception on their attitudes and
behaviors. These research efforts could include
I.
models which take place in both the laboratory and
naturalistic settings. The majority of the research
l
surrounding effects of television has been conducted
with children. Research efforts with adults would
j!
provide significant information to the literature.
i
Second, the development of research tools which
might strengthen the construct validity of the
dimensions of perceived reality. These tools would
examine concepts such as locus of control and amount
of interpersonal contact versus time spent watching
television. Such tools would not only provide
valuable information to the construct of perceived
reality but would also help to determine the |*
relationship of mediated message with specific
variables.
Third, the design of a research model to be used
80


by teachers and trainers dealing with specific issues
I
in which mediated messages could be used to reinforce
positive behavior and attitudes. As noted earlier,
the television situation comedy provides a solution to
|i
a weekly problem that is faced by the main characters
j
of the program. It is possible that these programs
could be used to illustrate specific topics under
consideration by teachers, trainers, and student's.
The introduction of such a model into the i]
classroom would provide not only modeling techniques
but also a starting place for topics of discussion.
I
For example, one might consider the actions of the
!
character compared to your own actions in a specdfic
ij
situation. It is recommended that this model wojpld be
used as supporting material in a classroom or training
it
session. There is a vast amount of information (that
jl
we receive from television covering a wide range'of
topics that could be used in this manner. Often^when
exposed to models of behavior, people are more open to
i;
examining their own behavior. j
i1
h
And as a final suggestion, continued studied
f
which explore the impact of a specific television
s
genre upon viewers. In an examination of this type,
social scientists might want to consider the role of
situation comedy in contemporary American society
81


along with other genres such as police shows, soap
operas, and mysteries. Each genre provides its own
i.
unique message and viewer experience and may influence
viewers in different modes and manners.
J
The history of people has been intimately linked
i
it
to the development of communication. In fact, the one
thing that millions of humans have most in common now,
j!
aside from their humanity is television (Kubey &j<
Cziksentmihalyi, 1990). Research efforts have jjust
begun to explore the long range effects of the m'edia
upon individuals and upon society. New programs' and*
I
new media technologies are developing rapidly. Future
i
research will help us understand those changes and the
if
effects those changes might have upon ourselves *and
upon those with whom we are linked by a common medium.
4i
f
82
s
i
t
,
i


APPENDIX A
TELEVISION SURVEY
Age: ________ Female: __________________ Male:_
Race: ________ White/Caucasian ________ Black
Hispanic _________ Native American
ii
Asian _________ Other i
Education:' _______ Highest grade achieved L
12 3 high school diploma - L
13 + after high school j
How long have attended classes at this school? ________________L
i
I
What is your Program Area?
Have vou attended the Job Seekinz Skills Class? i
Hours of Television watched per day: (please check one) , i
less than one 3-4 5 7
1 1 1 H 4-5 ; 1 7 a
2-3 5-6 It 1; more than
I eight
Type of television program most watched (rate with 6 being the
highest):
Action/adventure News 'Sports
(Matlock, In the Heat (baseball,
of the Night) f o'otball) L
Drama Comedy n
(Dallas, Soap Operas, (Cosby Show,
L.A. Law) Golden Girls) 1
Public television
(Nova, National Geographic)
On the average, how many hours a week would you say that you
watch comedy shows? ____________ |j


APPENDIX B
POTTER PERCEIVED REALITY SCALE
* I
Please answer the following questions by noting one of the
following five possible points for each item: j,
Strongly agree: 1
Moderately agree ______2
Agree 3
Moderately disagree ___4
Strongly disagree _____5
l
1.
The people I see playing parts on
like their characters when they are
real life.
T.V. are just
off camera.in
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
The people who act in T.V. shows about j-families
probably behave the same way in their real lives.
The people who are funny as characters bn
shows are probably very funny in their real
Bill Cosby who plays Dr. Huxtable on the
Show probably acts in real life the ,wa
Huxtable does on the T.V. show.
comedy
lives.
Cosby
y Dr .
The things that happen to Bill Cosby in real life
are probably the same things that happen to his
character (Dr. Huxtable) on T.V. f
The things that happen to Roseanne in ijeal life
are probably the same things that happen to her
character on the Roseanne Show. '
7.
8.
Roseanne
that her
probably acts
character does
in real life the isame
on the Roseanne show.
way
I feel I can learn alot about
TV.
people
from
1 watching
9.
10.
I get useful ideas
friends and family
situation comedies.
about how I
by watching
act a
round
characters
li
my
o n
By watching TV I feel I can learn about life's
problems and situations. |


11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
. 17.
18.
19.
20.
The characters I see on situation comedjies help
give me ideas about how to solve my own problems.
I feel I can learn about people by
fathers on My Two Dads.
watc
hing
the
I can learn about how to solve my own problems by
watching Murphy Brown on the Murhpy Brown
'show.
I feel I can learn alot about people by jwatching
Sam on Cheers. i
* (
There are certain characters on TV shows that I
admire. I
There are a few characters on TV shows) that I
would like to be more like. k
I know someone in real life like Roseanne on the
Roseanne show. !
I1
I know someone in real life like the preacher on
AMEN. 1
On the Cosby show, the father is like someone I
know in real life. j
On the TV show, Cheers, Sam is like someone I know
in real life. j)
i<
f
!
85
<


appendix c
SELF-EFFICACY SCALE
JOB SEEKING SKILLS
0 10 20
Cannoc Do
At All
30 40 50 60 70
Moderately
Certain Can Do
80 90 100!
Certain
Can') Do
In the column "Confidence" rate how
accomplishing the tasks listed below,
you were asked to perform the tasks today
confident
Rate your
you are
confidence
Confidence
(0-100)
i n
if
Apply for at least '
three jobs per week. ________
Ask friends and relatives if they
know of any job openings. ________
Convince interviewer you are the right
person for the job. ________
Find a job that will further my skills. ________ I
Keep from becoming discouraged when *
rejected for a position I really wanted. ________
i
Talk to my family and friends about how
I feel about my job seeking activities. ________
1
Keep up my job search until I am
successful.
--------
Determine what skills I need to get
the type of job that I want.


APPENDIX D
)
SITUATION COMEDY ANNOTATION
The Roseanne Barr Show
The Roseanne Barr Show is a situation comedy
which focuses on the life of a working class family
consisting of Roseanne, her husband, Dan, and th^ir
two children. The theme of the sitcom is how a jblue
collar family deals with the problems of everyday life
including marriage, child rearing', in-laws, |j
friendship, jealousy, and employment. Rated either
the number one or number two show in the 1989-19j90
television viewing seasons, the program derives
popularity from its main character, Roseanne, a
housewife who views her everyday struggles with
sardonic wit.
"The Interview"
its
In this particular episode of the Roseanne jBarr
Show, Roseanne has quit her job at the electronics
factory because of unfair treatment. She is J,
unemployed and has so far been unsuccessful at jj
attaining a new position. The episode opens with
Roseanne starting her day by telemarketing magazines
from the kitchen. 1
A friend calls and informs her of a job opening
at the meat packing plant; one of the better places of
employment in town. He knows the personnel manager
and set up a job interview for Roseanne for the next
day. Roseanne is extremely nervous about the
interview and gets very little support from her
husband who is preoccupied with the success of his
asphalt laying business. He pays no attention to
Roseanne's need to discuss the interview. On the day
of the interview, her sister helps her get ready;1 and
tries to assure her of impending success. s
When Roseanne gets to the interview, the fijjrst
thing she learns from Madge, the personnel manager, is
that she has parked in the wrong place and is blocking
the fire lane. Roseanne doesn't even know what available. However, after they start talking the two


women find that they like each other and Madge hires
Roseanne. Madge feels that Roseanne can handle [the
jh. j;
Madge leaves the room and Roseanne calls her
family and tells them the good news. The family*
decides to throw her a surprise party.
In the meantime, Madge returns to the room pnd
asks Roseanne what computers she has worked on.
Roseanne has no computer skills at all. Madge assumed
Roseanne knew what the job entailed. They need ,
somebody with good computer skills immediately. With
regret, Roseanne is turned down for the position,.
When she returns home, she comes into the k
surprise party. After some rather embarrassing i
exchanges, the party is over and the guests leavje when
they discover that she doesnt have the job. j
Roseanne and Dan have an argument. Roseanne
feels useless and believes that Dan doesn't pay
attention to her feelings around the issues of l!
unemployment. The quarrel ends with a resolutioln
around the issues at hand. Roseanne and Dan discuss
her unemployment situation, her depression, and Shis
insensitivity. They concur that not getting thi^s job
is'not the worst thing that could happen. There; will
be other jobs and in the meantime they will manajge as
they always have. j,
The episode concludes with Roseanne back on); the
telephone selling magazines.
i
k
88
5
f.


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measuring perceived reality of televised information
(the extent to which mediated communication is viewed
i .
as real). The experimental group viewed a situation
ja
comedy episode with content specific to job seeking
l,
skills. The control group did not view the episode.
|a
Both groups then completed self-efficacy scales J;
relating to their confidence concerning job seeking
skills. It was hypothesized that the experimental
ii
group would show a higher confidence level. It was
also hypothesized that for subjects who viewed the tape
!
there would be a direct relationship between meajsures
i"
of perceived reality and self-efficacy scores. '
t
The study provided no significant results forj any of
i
the predicted hypotheses. However, the model did
operationalize the concepts being examined. jj
i
Modifications to the model are recommended for farther
examination of the concepts of role models, perceived
reality, and self-efficacy constructs.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
Michael Mori'sour
IV