EXAMINING DIMENSIONS OF CHARACTER INVOLVEMENT AS CONTRIBUTING FACTORS IN TELEVISION VIEWERS' BINGE DRINKING PERCEPTIONS
AuthorMcKinley, Christopher Joseph
Committee ChairKunkel, Dale
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractEmbedding health messages within an entertainment television program can be an effective tool for influencing viewer health beliefs and attitudes. An important factor moderating the impact of entertainment programming on viewers' health perceptions is the level of connection, or involvement, viewers have with characters.The main goal of this study was to examine how five distinct forms of character involvement -- identification, wishful identification, parasocial interaction, liking, and perceived similarity -- may operate together to explain changes in viewer binge drinking perceptions. A secondary goal of this study was to examine how the interrelationships between character involvement and engagement in the narrative help explain the impact of exposure to an entertainment program on viewer binge drinking perceptions.A pretest/posttest design was employed to examine changes in viewer binge drinking perceptions following exposure to a dramatic television programming dealing with excessive drinking behavior. In addition, perceived similarity with a character was manipulated prior to viewing to assess causal relationships between character involvement dimensions.Contrary to predictions, the majority of tests showed that identification with a binge drinking character did not play a significant mediating role in the relationship between other character involvement dimensions and viewer binge drinking perceptions. Furthermore, in mediated models that included multiple forms of character involvement, perceived character similarity emerged as the only dimension that explained unique variance in viewer binge drinking perceptions. In particular, higher levels of perceived similarity with a character engaged in binge drinking behavior was associated with less socially responsible binge drinking beliefs and attitudes. Results also showed that the relationship between narrative engagement and viewer binge drinking perceptions did not partially flow through character identification.While the findings support prior theoretical assumptions predicting that viewers' will develop a variety of feelings toward characters during program exposure, results also indicate that when studying different viewer-character connections simultaneously, one connection may emerge as the driving force explaining viewer health perceptions. Overall, this study offers a valuable assessment of whether distinct connections television viewers form with characters may both independently, and indirectly through other character involvement dimensions, contribute to health perceptions.