Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Hensley, Katharine Elizabeth URN etd-05122010-182828 Title “Terrorism Is Theater”: How Antagonist Portrayals in Action Films Affect Stereotyping and Impression Formation Degree Master of Arts Department Communication Studies Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Magee, Robert G. Committee Chair Ivory, James D. Committee Member Tedesco, John C. Committee Member Keywords
- Action Films
- Narrative Persuasion
- Mortality Salience
Date of Defense 2010-04-30 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis study examined portrayals of terrorists in several action films and their effects on
participants’ thoughts concerning the films and their characters. A 2 x 2 x 2 factorial experiment
was used to test the effects of antagonist ethnicity (white or non-white), antagonist portrayal type (sympathetic or non-sympathetic), and mortality salience (treatment or control) on narrative transportation, attitude toward the antagonist, attitude toward the video, stereotype endorsement, and response time for attitude toward the antagonist. Gender differences were also investigated.
Participants viewed one 15-minute clip from an action film that manipulated antagonist ethnicity
and antagonist portrayal. Then, participants answered several questionnaires surrounding the
previously mentioned dependent variables.
White terrorists and sympathetic portrayals were preferred over non-white terrorists and
non-sympathetic portrayals. Participants in the mortality salience control condition evaluated
Arabs more favorably than those exposed to the mortality salience treatment. In addition, males
rated antagonists more favorably than females, and males were also less likely to engage in
stereotyping of Arabs and African Americans. Implications for theory and suggestions for future
research were discussed.
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