UBC Undergraduate Research

Watching TV-Exploring the Relationships Between TV Viewing and Attitudes Towards Mental Health Webster, Jodi


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between TV viewing habits and attitudes towards mental health/disorders. Using a mixed design, university students (n = 16/ group) completed questionnaires regarding their attitudes about mental health/disorders, and quantitative and psychological aspects of their TV viewing habits approximately one week before, and immediately after watching one of three selected episodes of a popular TV medical drama series. Analyses indicated that aspects of mental health attitudes, as measured by the Community Attitudes towards Mental Illness scale, were associated with perceived realism and psychological involvement in TV viewing. While it had been hypothesized that changes in mental health attitudes would be dependent upon the episode’s storyline (i.e., mental health-related or not) and the affective tone of the mental health storyline (i.e., positive or negative), no significant findings were obtained. Future analyses, based upon larger samples, controlling for participants’ level of psychological involvement may yield significant findings. Issues related to measurement of attitudes are also implicated.

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