Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Sarah Carney

Major

Psychology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This study analyzed various stereotypes perpetuated in current television programs with an emphasis on season one of Fox’s new hit show Empire. The analysis was based off Gerbner and colleagues’ cultivation theory and the influence television has on viewers’ perceptions of reality. Bandura’s social learning and social cognitive theories are also used to explain how people could learn through their observations of television. Observations in this study chiefly focused on negative stereotypical depictions of Blacks on Empire. Using qualitative observations, this study questioned: what negative stereotypes about Blacks are being perpetuated in Empire and what potential affect could these images have on hypothetical viewers? The results indicate that viewers of Empire are learning that five main negative stereotypes (Blacks are homophobic, Black women are aggressive, Blacks support corporal punishment in child rearing, Blacks are against interracial dating, and Black males are violent criminals) are true about Black Americans. This study suggests the need for more implementation of education on Black history, life, and culture in order to raise awareness on the disparities between the real world and fictional television as well as promote higher levels of interracial harmony.

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