Implicit Theories of Marriage and Evaluations of Marriage on Television

Authors

  • ELIZABETH M. PERSE,

    1. Elizabeth M. Perse, Charles Pavitt, and Cynthia S. Burggraf are Assistant Professors in the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Eastern Communication Association convention in Ocean City, Maryland, in May 1989. This research was supported by a grant to C. S. Burggraf from the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Delaware. The authors would like to thank Beth Haslett and Robin Vagenas for help in data collection, John Courtright for his support, and Jeff Bergstrom and Elaine Gilby for their patience. This article is dedicated to Sylvia Dee, without whose birth this study would never have been conceived.
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  • CHARLES PAVITT,

    1. Elizabeth M. Perse, Charles Pavitt, and Cynthia S. Burggraf are Assistant Professors in the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Eastern Communication Association convention in Ocean City, Maryland, in May 1989. This research was supported by a grant to C. S. Burggraf from the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Delaware. The authors would like to thank Beth Haslett and Robin Vagenas for help in data collection, John Courtright for his support, and Jeff Bergstrom and Elaine Gilby for their patience. This article is dedicated to Sylvia Dee, without whose birth this study would never have been conceived.
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  • CYNTHIA S. BURGGRAF

    1. Elizabeth M. Perse, Charles Pavitt, and Cynthia S. Burggraf are Assistant Professors in the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Eastern Communication Association convention in Ocean City, Maryland, in May 1989. This research was supported by a grant to C. S. Burggraf from the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Delaware. The authors would like to thank Beth Haslett and Robin Vagenas for help in data collection, John Courtright for his support, and Jeff Bergstrom and Elaine Gilby for their patience. This article is dedicated to Sylvia Dee, without whose birth this study would never have been conceived.
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

This study integrated social-cognitive and interpersonal frameworks in the mass communication setting. Although television presents a fairly consistent view of marriage as conventional and happy, we proposed that college students’ marital schemata, or implicit theories about marriage, would influence their evaluations of television couples’ marital satisfaction. College students (N = 358) completed two waves of questionnaires that used Fitzpatrick's (2988) Relational Dimensions Instrument to assess marital schemata and perceptions of married couples on television. Partial correlations revealed that greater similarity between marital schemata and ratings of television couples’ marriage type was associated with higher ratings of perceived television marital satisfaction. Analysis of covariance indicated that this effect held only for the Traditional schema type. The discussion focuses on the implications of the findings for media effects and marital communication research.

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