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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Qingwen Dong

First Committee Member

Carol Ann Hackley

Second Committee Member

R. Alan Ray


As communication and technology has become more and more advanced, mass media have become a constant fixture in American life. Our society has become heavily dependent on mass media for its entertainment value, socialization ability and ever present window to the world. This study is based on the power that the mass media has to shape our culture and looks at how this can effect the college student. The idea that media can have effects on consumers behavior is based on Bandura's social learning theory as well as Festinger's social comparison theory. The literature connects these theories with previous research discussing how media effects both women's and men's healthy and unhealthy behaviors.

This study investigates the media consumption of college students through a nine part survey to determine their media consumption habits as well as their unhealthy and healthy behaviors. The survey also measured self-concept, interpersonal communication and attention to media. The subjects were 267 college students at two universities in Northern California.

The surveys were analyzed to determine specific mass media habits of college students and how the media effects their healthy or unhealthy behavior. Results indicated there were noticeable effects mass media have on these consumers. College students pay much more attention to female models than they do to male models in the media, therefore female consumers are more effected by mass media images.

The study also found mass media to have social implications on college students. As a group, these consumers look to the mass media to determine how to dress, act, look, exercise and eat. The effects are then based on the amount of self-esteem present in the consumer. However there were also positive conclusions that came from mass media consumption among both male and female respondents.



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