Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Communication, Technology, and Society

Committee Member

Dr. Erin Ash

Committee Member

Dr. Darren L. Linville

Committee Member

Dr. Stephanie Ruhl

Abstract

Two studies were conducted in order to explore how romance-related mood, situational similarity, and character attribute similarity affect selective exposure to romantic comedies. Eight hypotheses were proposed based on traditional mood management theory (MMT). MMT predicts that people make media selection choices based on a desire to alter a negative mood state and achieve a positive mood state (Zillmann, 1988; Zillmann & Bryant, 1985). For this study in particular, MMT predicts that people in a negative romance-related mood would choose to avoid media content that reminds them of their negative romance-related mood. Content could remind participants of their negative romance-related mood through either situational similarity (Study 1) or character attribute similarity (Study 2). Situational similarity was operationalized through subgenre (female-led comedies vs. traditional romantic comedies), and character attribute similarity was operationalized through age. Experimental research was conducted with college-aged female participants in order to test the hypotheses. Results from a series of ANOVAs and hierarchical regressions revealed that, in general, the hypotheses proposed in this study were not supported. In fact, this study found results contrary to predictions made based on traditional MMT predicted outcomes. This suggests the need for future studies of MMT and its extensions, particularly in regard to motivations for counter-hedonic media selection choices.

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