Date of Award

1981

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Speech Communication

Abstract

The believability of male versus female television newscasters was examined. The research was conducted in two parts. First, a nation-wide survey of television news directors was conducted to determine their opinions concerning "What makes a newscaster believable?" The news directors were randomly selected from Broadcasting Yearbook's "Directory of Television Stations in the United States." The responses of the survey were converted to semantic differential scales. Two newscasts were constructed and videotaped which were identical except one was delivered by a male anchor person and the other by a female anchor person. A written description was used to manipulate the perceived credibility of the newscaster. Subjects were randomly assigned to view the newscast under one of six conditions: low-credible male, medium-credible male, high-credible male, low-credible female, medium-credible female, and high credible female. Subjects then rated the newscasters on 52 semantic differential scales and responded to three demographic questions and two close-ended questions. Data was collected from 544 students enrolled in a multi-section speech fundamentals course at Louisiana State University: 300 males and 244 females. The data was analyzed using multiple discriminant analysis. The discriminant analysis suggested the presence of five dimensions of believability of television newscasters. The dimensions were labeled "Professionalism," "Style," "Trustworthiness," "Sophistication," and "Character." While the dimensions were the same for male and female newscasters, the order of importance of the dimensions differed. Overall, the high-credible male newscaster was slightly more believable than the high-credible female newscaster. However the male newscaster was rated higher on "Professionalism," "Trustworthiness" and "Sophistication" and the female newscaster was rated higher on "Style" and "Character.". In addition it was found that news directors' perceptions of believable newscasters do not coincide with viewer perceptions. It was concluded that more research needs to be done to develop an instrument to measure the believability of male and female newscasters.

Pages

169

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