Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology

Reader 1

Jennifer Groscup

Reader 2

Michael Spezio

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2013 Kristina Block

Abstract

Reality television has inundated the networks, eliciting some of the highest viewership in the United States; therefore, it is important to understand why people watch these shows and what they gain from doing so. This study replicates and expands on the study by Barton (2009), which examined how difference in content in competition-based reality shows influenced viewer gratifications. The present study explored the effect of content on viewer gratifications in documentary-based reality television shows. Participants (n = 257) completed surveys asking about their television viewing habits, general reasons for watching reality programming and reasons for watching specific reality shows (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo). Some results contradicted those found by Barton with no effect of content on viewer gratifications. However, consistent with Barton’s findings, gender differences were found in levels of gratifications obtained from these two shows with women reporting higher levels. In addition, when extreme levels of income were compared, greater gratification was found only for the Vicarious Participation factor. Video content positively correlated with amount of downward social comparison (schadenfreude) but there was no correlation between downward social comparison and participants’ income.

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