Watching baywatch in Burundi : an investigation into the relationship between global television viewing and people's feelings of economic deprivation and unhappiness
Schultz, Eric R.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. This report explores the possible effects that television viewing may be having on the happiness of people worldwide. Specifically, it seeks to better understand if and how television viewing may cause individuals to develop a diminished assessment of their relative financial status that could, in turn, reduce their feelings of financial satisfaction and happiness. In order to explicate these theoretical relationships, this study bridges two bodies of theory: cultivation theory, which attempts to explain how television can influence perceptions of wealth, and other research, based primarily on explaining the "Easterlin Paradox," that seeks to better understand how an individual's wealth, and their perceptions of that wealth, can effect happiness. When applied to the empirical data from the World Values Survey, the proposed theoretical models demonstrated that the positive association between real financial status and financial satisfaction was, in fact, diminished in moderate to heavy television viewers. Moreover, the results suggest that the extent to which it was diminished can be attenuated depending upon certain characteristics of the viewer. A further test on whether television viewing is associated with heightened levels of materialism produced only inconclusive results. These findings can help policy makers better understand that television has importance not only as a conduit through which people around the world get information, but also as a trigger for a psychological process in which individuals use that information to make important value judgments about their lives.
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