Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This thesis examines the relationship between television viewing and attitudes toward capital punishment by making comparisons between viewers watching Canadian television and viewers receiving United States television. The adult population of three rural Minnesota areas was enumerated providing a sample N of 414. These areas were closely matched in all respects except type of television received. The first area receives only Canadian television signals, the second both United States and Canadian television signals, and the third receives only United States television signals. One adult from each household was interviewed in his/her home. High school youths in corresponding areas were also enumerated with similar interviews in their scnool classes, N=28C.

Pretests and a pilot study were conducted prior to the major research effort. Factor analysis of these data yielded six items forming a scale measuring attitudes toward capital punishment. The independent variable, television viewing, is measured by three single measures of type of television viewed. These are: (1) a geographic factor inherent in the samples, (2) an item requesting respondents to estimate what percentage of total viewing time is spent viewing Canadian television, and (3) an item requesting the type of news program chosen to be viewed.

Data were analyzed using parametric measures of association. Slight but steady correlations were observed. Interestingly, these correlations were as strong or stronger than correlations of attitudes toward capital punishment with variables suggested as correlates in the literature or with items measuring familiarity with Canada and other media usage. Partial correlations of attitudes toward capital punishment with tele- vision viewing controlling for all such variables singly and simultaneously found the relationship unchanged.

Television viewing is, therefore, found to be an important correlate and probable cause of attitudes toward capital punishment.