Online Lovers and Offline Liars: A Communication Theory Analysis of MTV's Catfish: The TV Show
Turner, Jeanine W
ONLINE LOVERS AND OFFLINE LIARS: A COMMUNICATION THEORY ANALYSIS OF MTV’S CATFISH: THE TV SHOWRyann S. Price, BAThesis Advisor: Jeanine W. Turner, Ph.D.ABSTRACTThis study examines the relationship behaviors exhibited on Catfish: The TV Show using a sample of 20 episodes. Using Grounded Theory’s Constant Comparative method, the author identified various relationship behaviors including how partners meet online, the nature of formed relationships, and the suspicious cues. This study integrates interpersonal communication theory to explain how Catfish relationships develop, as well as, what influences daters to feature their relationships on the reality-based television show. Social Penetration Theory explains the relationship development process that occurs over computer-mediated communication platforms, where partners communicate frequently and self-disclose. Computer-mediated communication drives partners towards a face-to-face meeting, that remains difficult to facilitate in Catfish relationships. As a result, daters question aspects of their relationships and write into the show for help. Uncertainty Reduction Theory demonstrates how Catfish: The TV Show operates as a communication strategy to reduce uncertainty about a partner’s identity and other aspects of the relationship.