Date of Award:

1982

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Elwin C. Nielsen

Abstract

Introduction. This study produced and evaluated a mass media campaign designed to promote emotional adjustment to divorce.

Hypotheses. (a) Sending a promotional newsletter to divorced persons will increase their reported utilization of the campaign. (b) Divorced persons who report heavy utilization of the campaign will report greater emotional improvement than divorced persons who report light or no utilization of the campaign.

Method. A field experiment was conducted in rural northern Utah. The names of all recently (less than 12 months) divorced persons were obtained from the county clerk and randomly divided into an experimental group, who received a newsletter promoting the media campaign, and a control group. The five-week media campaign included 10 radio shows, 16 newspaper articles, and 29 television shows. After the campaign, 101 subjects were interviewed regarding their media use. They also completed a posttest and retrospective pretest of anxiety, depression, hostility (measured by the Symptom Check List 90-R), and attachment.

Results. The campaign was reportedly used by 77.2% of the subjects. Hypothesis 1 was weakly supported. Subjects who received the newsletter reported using statistically significantly more media events (X = 4.95) than subjects who did not receive the newsletter (X = 3.12). However, the percentage of variance in media use associated with newsletter receipt was only 3.2%. Hypothesis 2 was partially supported. Heavy campaign users (3+ events) reported statistically significantly greater improvements in anxiety, depression, and hostility (but not attachment) than light users (0-2 events). The percentage of variance in emotional improvements associated with media use ranged from 1 to 5%. Those who reportedly spent time with significant others after the divorce reported significantly greater emotional improvements than those who did not spend time with others. The highest degree of reported emotional improvement was reported by those who reported both heavy media use and time spent with significant others, while the lowest degree of emotional improvement was reported by subjects who reported little or no media use and no time spent with confidants.

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