Television as an Instrument of Social Change: Examining Involvement, Musical Performance, and Viewer Effects

Open Access
Shade, Drew Daniel
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
March 04, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Mary Beth Oliver, Dissertation Advisor
  • Fuyuan Shen, Committee Chair
  • Michael Grant Schmierbach, Committee Member
  • Matthew Mc Allister, Committee Member
  • entertainment-education
  • social change
  • involvement
  • identification
  • transportation
  • elevation
  • music presentation
Using the entertainment-education (EE) perspective (Singhal & Rogers, 2004), this study examined the impact of entertainment television featuring social issues. The central question asked whether this content can lead to favorable attitudes, behavioral intentions, and helping behavior. Previous research has identified three possible mechanisms associated with EE effects: character, narrative, and emotional involvement (Murphy et al., 2011). Employing an experiment, involvement models were analyzed. Character involvement results revealed that identification predicted efficacy and behavioral intentions and that efficacy predicted behavioral intentions and behavior. Narrative involvement findings showed that transportation predicted decreased counterarguing and favorable empathic attitudes. Empathic attitudes led to behavioral intentions and behavior predicted empathic attitudes, decreased counterarguing, and behavioral intentions. Emotional involvement results revealed that elevation predicted behavioral intentions, positive feelings toward the focal group, and empathic attitudes. Furthermore, positive feelings predicted empathic attitudes and behavior, empathic attitudes predicted behavioral intentions, and behavioral intentions predicted behavior. Another primary question concerned which involvement mechanism could best be attributed to the process of attitude and behavior change. With no clear distinction found, the involvement mechanisms and their subsequent variables were combined into an overarching EE model. When combined, elevation predicted behavioral intentions and transportation predicted decreased counterarguing and efficacy, but identification failed to have any impact. Empathic attitudes predicted behavioral intentions and decreased counterarguing predicted behavior. Efficacy, a significant component of the combined model, predicted behavioral intentions, behavior, and empathic attitudes. The final question focused on understanding how music presentation plays a role within television content via the involvement mechanisms. Exposing participants to one of four types of music presentation (musical performance, original song, instrumental, or no music), results indicated that there was no overall effect for music presentation. However, when compared to the control condition, the music performance condition predicted identification, transportation, and elevation and the original song condition predicted transportation and elevation. Significant findings for the music presentation conditions were obtained in the combined model; however, the musical performance condition no longer predicted identification and the original song condition no longer predicted elevation. Study limitations, practical implications, and directions for future research are discussed.