Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kenneth Killebrew, Ph.D.

Keywords

Social cognitive theory, Grounded theory, In-depth interviews, Qualitative study, Conservation filmmaking

Abstract

This qualitative grounded study explores the potential relationship between wildlife TV viewing and human-animal interactions for exotic pet owners. The method involved 13 in-depth interviews and a qualifying open-ended questionnaire with 37 individuals. The interviews gathered viewers' interpretations of two different human-wildlife interactions on TV and served as a launching point for discussion. Findings supported the literature in that wildlife TV was an important source of information, emotion, and contradictory messages. Themes also emerged regarding participants' characterizations of their relationships with their pets. Drawing from social cognitive theory, this thesis suggests the following potential motivators for participants to model animal interactions as seen on screen: 1) visual instruction that increases viewer efficacy; 2) identification with the spokesperson; and 3) emotional connection to the animal. The study concludes with preliminary recommendations for wildlife programming on TV.

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