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Environmental Concern, Patterns of Television Viewing, and Pro-Environmental Behaviors
Unformatted Document Text:  TV-Environment 4 Thus, we expand on research by Shanahan and McComas in four ways: First, we focus our attention on the criterion variable of pro-environmental behaviors. Although the study of media’s influence on environmental knowledge and attitudes are important lines of research, most psychological models assert that these variables precede behaviors (McGuire, 1989). Second, we foreground the inherent limitations associated with a focus on total television use (e.g., Hawkins & Pingree, 1981; Potter & Chang, 1990), leading us to attend to individuals’ consumption of five different types of television programming (public affairs, nature documentaries, situation comedies, progressive dramas, and traditional dramas). 1 Third, we argue that environmental attitudes and other characteristics can influence patterns of television use. Specifically, we contend that different types of television use support basic psychological dispositions and basic motivations (e.g., Blumler, 1979). We postulate that environmental attitudes, which are central to many individuals’ sense of self (Backes, 1995), act as one of many internal motives that determines which types of television programming individuals consume, and treat environmental concern as antecedent to television use. Finally, we argue that certain forms of television use act as important mediators in the relationship between environmental attitudes and behaviors. Consistent with work on the mediating role of news media use on civic engagement, this view asserts that socio-economic variables often work through patterns of media use (McLeod et al, 2000). Television and the Environment Mass communication researchers have focused on the potential influences of various types of television content on individual-level environmental knowledge, attitudes, and/or behaviors. These works are outlined below, with particular attention paid to the factual (public affairs and nature documentaries) and fictional forms of television programming (dramas and comedies) that are part of this study. Public Affairs Studies focusing on the relationship between public affairs media and the environment can be broken down into two distinct areas, content- and effects-based research (Shanahan & McComas, 1999). Several content-based studies focus on how media frame environmental issues (e.g., Dunwoody & Griffin, 1993; Gilbert, 1993; Griffin & Dunwoody, 1997; Luke, 1987), and several other works study the narratives used by journalists when reporting on the environment (e.g., Daley & O’Neill, 1991; Ten Eyck, 1999). For example, Griffin and Dunwoody (1997) find that governmental frames are used more often than scientific frames in the coverage of environmental risks, and that

Authors: Holbert, R. Lance., Kwak, Nojin. and Shah, Dhavan.
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TV-Environment 4
Thus, we expand on research by Shanahan and McComas in four ways: First, we focus our attention on the
criterion variable of pro-environmental behaviors. Although the study of media’s influence on environmental
knowledge and attitudes are important lines of research, most psychological models assert that these variables
precede behaviors (McGuire, 1989). Second, we foreground the inherent limitations associated with a focus on total
television use (e.g., Hawkins & Pingree, 1981; Potter & Chang, 1990), leading us to attend to individuals’
consumption of five different types of television programming (public affairs, nature documentaries, situation
comedies, progressive dramas, and traditional dramas).
1
Third, we argue that environmental attitudes and other
characteristics can influence patterns of television use. Specifically, we contend that different types of television use
support basic psychological dispositions and basic motivations (e.g., Blumler, 1979). We postulate that
environmental attitudes, which are central to many individuals’ sense of self (Backes, 1995), act as one of many
internal motives that determines which types of television programming individuals consume, and treat
environmental concern as antecedent to television use. Finally, we argue that certain forms of television use act as
important mediators in the relationship between environmental attitudes and behaviors. Consistent with work on the
mediating role of news media use on civic engagement, this view asserts that socio-economic variables often work
through patterns of media use (McLeod et al, 2000).
Television and the Environment
Mass communication researchers have focused on the potential influences of various types of television
content on individual-level environmental knowledge, attitudes, and/or behaviors. These works are outlined below,
with particular attention paid to the factual (public affairs and nature documentaries) and fictional forms of
television programming (dramas and comedies) that are part of this study.
Public Affairs
Studies focusing on the relationship between public affairs media and the environment can be broken down
into two distinct areas, content- and effects-based research (Shanahan & McComas, 1999). Several content-based
studies focus on how media frame environmental issues (e.g., Dunwoody & Griffin, 1993; Gilbert, 1993; Griffin &
Dunwoody, 1997; Luke, 1987), and several other works study the narratives used by journalists when reporting on
the environment (e.g., Daley & O’Neill, 1991; Ten Eyck, 1999). For example, Griffin and Dunwoody (1997) find
that governmental frames are used more often than scientific frames in the coverage of environmental risks, and that


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