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Autor: anton 11 September 2010
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CHAPTER 1: THE PROPOSAL
1. Proposed Title
The emotional response evoked in the female audience during the viewing of The Bold and the Beautiful.
2. Introductions and Orientation
The study of peopleâ€™s interests in soap operas and their emotional link to them has been a long-standing fascination. Viewers across the globe, tune in daily to the likes of soap operas, such as The Bold and the Beautiful. According to studies done on soap operas by Pitout (2001: 348) the interwoven storylines â€œforceâ€ viewers to keep on watching to prevent them from missing out on that ever crucial scene, that can drastically change the entire story line. According to the recent publication of Screen Africa (2004:43) on the Audience Ratings (AR) of the South African television channels SABC 1,2 and 3 as well as M-NET, all of the highest-ranking programmes are soap operas and the highest ranking foreign programmes are Days of our lives and The Bold and the Beautiful. The AR for The Bold and the Beautiful for December 2003 was 12.29. It states that one rating point of all viewers represents approximately 145590 viewers.
The audiences are a crucial part in determining the success of a particular series. Since the study of audiences began, there have been many speculations regarding the influence of the media over its audience. According to Pitout (2001: 243), â€œ In the early days of audience effects research there was the tendency to treat the media as â€œall-powerfulâ€ in determining the way audiences think and actâ€. Early audience research was based on the perception that the audiences are passive receivers of the mass media message. This was supported by the hypodermic needle theory. However, this theory was developed for the audience analysis for radio and does not apply to television. As the research progressed, the two-step flow theory was developed in the 1950â€™s. J.T Klapper (1960) pointed out in Fourieâ€™s chapter on The Effects of Mass Communication (Fourie, 2001: 295), that the audiences of the mass media, television are passive receivers, which can be influenced, but are also capable of thinking for themselves. Therefore they are selectively influenced. In the resent theories on audiences such as the reception theory, states that the audiences are actively involved in the reception of messages. (Pitout, 2001: 245).
The creative field of Audio Visual is a vast one. Within this field, there are different types of styles or chapters, known as genres, by which the television programme or film can be identified. According to Karam (2001: 459) â€œfilms or television programmes that belong to the same genre have certain typical features in common.â€ She further states, â€œthese features may relate to the subject matter, the setting, or even the style of performance. The audience will therefore have certain expectations about a film or programme, according to its genre.â€
For the purpose of this research proposal, the television genre of soap operas will form the basis upon which research shall be done. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1995: 1127) a soap opera can be defined as a â€œtelevision or radio drama with continuing episodes about the events or problems in the daily lives of the same group of characters.â€
The audiences of such genres get intensely involved in the story lines and more than often form imaginary relationships with the characters. This leads to a strong emotional bond with the particular soap opera. For the purpose of this study the long running American soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, shall be the core for the study.
According to the CBS website, The Bold and the Beautiful is the longest running television show of the network. It first aired on the 23 March 1987. It is produced by Bell-Phillip Television Productions Inc. and still has four of its original cast members. It has an estimated 450 million viewers and is broadcast in 98 countries across the globe.
To aid in the understanding of this emotional soap opera phenomenon, the theoretical framework will consist of three theories of the social psychology of media studies, which apply to audience reception, research and understanding. These theories include; Reception Theory which has interests in the way that the viewer interprets media messages, The Uses and Gratification Theory, which states that users, are actively involved in the selection of messages, to satisfy individual needs, and The Socio Psychology of Media Consumption that concerns its self with the cognitive activity that occurs when viewers consume media messages. (Pitout, 2001: 243-283)
3. Research Problem
The research problem is to determine:
What type of emotional response do the female audiences have to the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful?
4. Research Questions
The following research questions are focused on seeking the answers to the above research problem.
â€¢ What types of emotions are evoked during the viewing of The Bold and the Beautiful?
â€¢ Do the viewers identify with the characters?
â€¢ Do the viewers identify with the situations in The Bold and the Beautiful?
5. Research Aims
â€¢ To determine the types of emotions are evoked during the viewing of soap operas.
â€¢ To determine if the viewers identify with the characters.
â€¢ To determine if viewers identify with the situations.
6. Hypotheses/Theoretical Statements
Female viewers of the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful experience a variety of different emotions whilst watching the narrative unfold. Through these emotions the viewers identify with the characters and the situations within the particular storyline.
7.1 Literature Review
Three theories will form the basis upon which the research will be based. The first is Reception Theory. Reception Theory according to Pitout (2001: 244) attempts to define how the audience interprets messages as a result of negotiation between the programme and the viewer and what the viewer then does with that message. As stated by Poulet (1969: 54), â€œ You are inside it, it is inside you, and there is no longer an inside or an outside.â€ To a certain extent the viewers makes their life like a soap opera, thus leading to real interaction with the program. Basically this can be interpreted as meaning that the viewer becomes one with the programme, thus having large and profound emotional affects on the viewer.
The second theory is that of the Users and Gratifications Theory. This theory attempts to explain that television and film viewing is an attempt of satisfying individual needs according to a specific daily routine and how that can also intern have profound emotional affects. (Pitout, 2001: 244) This theory is a common theory and has the basic knowledge of the researcher that viewers watch certain programmes to satisfy an identified need, and these needs and levels of satisfaction are different from person to person.
The third theory is that of the Social Psychology of Media Consumption. This theory has specific reference to two forms of dimensions. That of the affective, and the cognitive dimensions. According to Pitout (2001: 285), â€œthe affective states deals with feelings and emotions such as being angry, sad, or happy.â€ The affective state is sub divided into three states: emotional, mood and pleasure states. All of these states reflect on the viewerâ€™s involvement with The Bold and the Beautiful. The second dimension explains the cognitive activity that occurs during the viewing of television and the link between the viewerâ€™s reality and the television reality. This theory, for the purpose of this study, can be linked to the reception theory as their affective or cognitive dimension largely determines what the viewer does with the message.
In this research the study will determine what emotions are evoked in the audience when viewing The Bold and the Beautiful.
7.2 Methodological Orientation
The methodology will be of a qualitative focus, and shall be conducted in the form of triangulation. According to Du Plooy (2002: 39) â€œthe combination of two or more data-collection methods and referencing to multiple sources of information to obtain data, are generally referred to as triangulation.â€ The design of triangulation not only applies to the collection of data using different sampling methods, but according to De Vos (1998: 359) and Johnson (1997: 282-292), this type of research design tests the theoretical assumptions in more than one way, and increases the reliability and the validity of observations, analyses and findings.
Upon a NEXUS search, it was found that no other research has yet been done on this topic of what emotions evoked in the audience whilst viewing The Bold and the Beautiful.
Qualitative research has many labels such as; critical research, ethnography, interpretive research and alternative approach to mention a few. The basic understanding of qualitative research is, that data is collected through field research, were the researcher spends time with the participants. Qualitative research is more of a reflective approach. This research approach makes use of focus groups and questioners as the data collection techniques. (Du Plooy, 20002: 29)
With the use of triangulation, the researcher is able to get the best of both worlds. According to De Vos (1998: 359) and Johnson (1997: 282-292), triangulation is the collection of data using different sampling methods, the analysis of the same data from two or more theoretical perspectives. This is known as methodological triangulation.
As mentioned above, two of the data collection techniques for qualitative research are focus group and questionnaire. Theses are the methods of choice for the collection of data for this study.
According to Du Plooy (2002:178), â€œfocus groups are interviews conducted in small groups that can include different interviewing techniques and can take place in different settings.â€ He further states that focus groups â€œprovides data that is rich in ideas and provides attitudes from the subjects point of view.â€
Focus groups aid the researcher in â€œgathering data on a specific research problem and in determining mass media audiencesâ€™ attitudes, perceptions, frames of reference and behaviour.â€ (Du Plooy, 2002: 179)
Questionnaires are important in the gathering of qualitative data. The questionnaire is self- administrated, which means that the respondents fill the answers out themselves, according to there own perceptions. (Du Plooy, 2002:170) There are five types of questionnaires or surveys that one can make use of. However, for the purpose of this study the self-administrated and group-administrated questionnaires will be made use of. (Du Plooy, 2002: 171)
7.3 Research Design
According to Du Plooy (2002:100), sampling is the selection of units of analysis from a larger population. Population, not only refers to people, but also any group or aggregate of people. For the sample to be accurate, it has to be a representative of the population. The method of sample selection can be conducted with the aid of population parameters.
According to Du Plooy (2002:100), a population parameter refers to the common characteristics that the sample group have with each other. For the purpose of this study, the sample for the focus group has the following population parameters: they are all between the ages of 15-20, the are all in the first year of somatology and they all watch The Bold and the Beautiful at least three times a week.
For the focus group to not be generalised, a convenience sample of the population will be drawn. According to Du Plooy (2002:114), a convenience sample, is on which will be drawn form units of analysis that are conveniently available. This sample is also often referred to as an accidental, available or opportunity sample.
7.3.2 Conducting the focus groups
For the purpose of this study, two focus groups will be use. Each group will consist of between six and eight members. During the focus group, the researcher will ask prepared questions regarding The Bold and the Beautiful that will follow into a group discussion on the particular soap opera. The questions that will be prepared are those of an open-ended nature and free-narrations (Du Plooy, 2002: 143), which questions will lead the group into a discussion. Due to the availability of video cameras, the researcher will also with the permission of the group, videotape the discussion to add reliability and validity to the final research observations.
7.3.3 Analysing data form focus groups
Once the discussion is over, the research will watch and analyse the videotape by transcribing the discussion. Once the researcher has a full understanding of the groups emotions, they, the emotions, will catagorised and applied to the three theories that are being made use of for this study.
7.3.4 The Questionnaire
Once the findings of the focus group have been analysed, a questionnaire will be compiled. This questionnaire will be self-administrated and will consist of open-ended questions. The reason for this is that the open-ended questions encourage the expression of attitudes and opinions within the individual of the focus group. (Du Plooy, 2002: 138).
7.3.5 Analysing the Questionnaire Findings
Using the information obtained from the questionnaire, the data will be applied to the three theories of reception, uses and gratification and social consumption, which will aid in the understandings of the data, and will thus lead to the final findings of the study.
Soap operas are the most watched television programmes the world over. These statistics are phenomenal. It is no wonder that the viewers become attached to the characters and develop emotional baggage that coincides with the turmoil of the day-to-day lives of fictitious characters that the audience believes to be their â€œfriends.â€
The study on what emotions are evoked in the audience during the viewing of The Bold and the Beautiful is an interesting and intense one. The research approach chosen to conduct this research is an exciting approach to find the optimum results for the research questions. The use of the qualitative design will bring a clear understanding to the researcher on what emotions are evoked in the viewers of The Bold and the Beautiful.
The structure of the essay will consist of the following chapters.
Chapter 1: Research Proposal
Chapter 2: The Explanation of the term â€œGenreâ€
Chapter 3: The Explanation of the genre of â€œSoap Operasâ€ and Reception Theory
Chapter 4: Users and Gratifications Theory and Social Psychology of Media Consumption
Chapter 5: Methodology and Operationalisation
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE STUDY
The following literature study involves an intense analysis of the soap opera genre as well as a brief history of both the term â€˜soap operaâ€™ as well as the specific soap opera for the use of this study The Bold and the Beautiful. The theory concerning the analysis of the emotional response evoked in the female audience during the viewing of The Bold and the Beautiful will also be discussed in great detail.
2.1 Defining Genres
A genre is the audienceâ€™s ability to recognize similarities within the form and content of the narrative that corresponds to that of previous narratives that the audience has seen and is able to relate to. â€œ The term genre, as it applies in the media, can be defined as an agreed code between the communicator and the audience, which represents systems of orientationsâ€ (Du Plooy, 1989:60).
A genre would typically focus on one central theme throughout the narrative. For example a television soap opera would focus mainly on adults as the main characters and their personal conflicts and sexual exploitations as a theme to be carried out through out the entire programming structure (Du Plooy, 1989: 60). In order for a genre to develop and to create a good understanding of the genre, a relationship between the communicator (producers of the show), and the audience needs to be established.
To further understand the entirety of the term genre, the following assumptions contribute in the building of a substantial definition. A genre represents systems of orientation. This refers to a common understanding between communicator and audience that there is a similarity between texts. From this it is determined that the orientations cannot be separated form the economic viability that a genre brings to production. It is therefore suggested, that the genre is an integral part of the media industry (Du Plooy, 1989: 60).
Genres contribute to the development and preservation of textual forms, thus referring to the repeated use of a specific genre for the appeal of the audience, such as game shows. Genres also represent expectations. This assumption refers to the double layer by which the genre is analysed. By this it is meant that the genre has to meet certain requirements regarding the standard of the genre that it is as well as meeting new and different requirements that will aid in the luring in of the audience to once again watch an episode or film of the same genre that they have seen repeatedly (Du Plooy, 2001: 60).
A genre is thus a specific set of standards by which certain programmes are catagorised depending on their content. The communicator needs to keep the genres appealing, so that the audience will keep on coming back to get another dose of their favourite television or film genre.
2.1.1 The â€œSoap Operaâ€ genre
The defining quality of the soap opera term is its seriality. A serial narrative is a story told through a series of individual, narratively linked instalments, that captivate the viewerâ€™s imagination and lure them into a web where they cannot escape for fear of missing an ever-important moment (Allan, 1995: 248).
â€œDecades before computer generated 'virtual reality' became part of everyday life, people could still enhance their sense of love, romance, personal success and failure through vicarious experience. One of the most effective ways to create an 'awareness' of life (without paying its full price) was through a genre first popularised on American radio known as the 'soap operaâ€ (Matelski, 1999: 231).
Within the genre of the soap opera, the audience as with any other genre is of particular importance. The viewerâ€™s involvement in the soap opera is what makes it economically viable to continue with production. There are various ways in which the communicators of such genres are able to draw the attention of the audience and hold it so as they are unwillingly becoming in a sense â€˜addictedâ€™ to the soap of their choice (Pitout:1998,248).
A soap opera is a never ending narrative that makes use of abrupt segmentation between storylines in an episode that keeps the viewersâ€™ attention and keeps them guessing to entice them to come back for more and thus continuously watch a particular soap opera that captures their imagination.
The different story lines that the communicators make use of are the sub plots that keep the viewer glued to the screen. According to Pitout (1998:248), sub plots are the norm in soap operas, as they create gaps to ensure viewer involvement, thus viewers are constantly wondering between the different storylines. As Kilborn (1992 : 9) stated, over the years, soap operas have been condemned as little more than "chewing-gum for the eyes". This is referring to the open narrative of the soap opera, that keep the viewers coming back for more. This open narrative in a soap opera can also be referred to as a paradigmatic complexity, thus referring to the viewerâ€™s interrelationship between themselves and the characters.
The various techniques that the producers of soap operas use to keep the attention of the audience, can be found in the use of attention-grabbing camera angles such as close-ups to show expression and emotion and then abruptly end that days episode, leaving the viewer completely distraught and coming back for more the next day. The use of cliff- hangers, which have the same effect as the close-up, and the use of daunting musical scores put the viewers in states of what they believe to be â€˜emotionalâ€™ anguish, whilst viewing their particular soap of choice (Pitout:1998, 248).
The use of flashbacks and flash forwards also ensure a huge amount of viewer involvement. The purpose of these time travel montages, is to involve the audience in the soap opera. This reinforces what has happened and what will happen in the future, so as to a certain extent entice the imagination of the viewer, in order to keep the audience guessing and coming back for more. This use of imagination refers to the paradigmatic complexity of open narration that is the norm in soap operas. (Pitout: 1998, 250). This paradigmatic complexity encourages the viewer to imagine the possibilities for the future of a specific character, or perhaps even the events to follow in the future of the storyline. Simply this is also known as â€˜filling the gapsâ€™ in which the viewer is an active participant. (Pitout:1998, 250)
Pitout (1998, 251), further states that due to the fact that the story line is never-ending, the watching of soap operas does indeed become a ritual, and in that ritual the viewers particularly female viewers, become intensely involved in the characters and often go as far as to label the imagined as their friends or neighbours. The reasoning for the femaleâ€™s emotional involvement as opposed to the males is discussed later on in the paper.
The viewerâ€™s involvement in a soap opera can be put down to mental gymnastics, referring to the processes of retention, pretension and lateral referencing. According to Pitout (1998: 247), the wondering viewpoint, in which the viewer travels between the different storylines, but never sees the full picture, can be linked to these three references. Retention, is the process whereby viewers are given cues, inviting them to recall past events in the series (flashbacks), and can be sub-divided to refer to inter-dietetic events - incidents shown in previous episodes - and extra-dietetic events - incidents not show previously, but reconstructed on the basis of character accounts.
Protension refers to the process whereby viewers are invited to look into the future (flashfowards) and speculate about coming events, while lateral reference is made possible through the multiple-plots. These devices serve to further emphasise the openness of the textual narrative, and lead neatly on to one of the most significant soap opera 'gratifications'. In the time between episodes, viewers speculate about the directions that the plot will take, to produce their own theories that can only be tested by watching the text unfold. Viewers find pleasure in the unfinished, provisional nature of the genre (Buckingham, 1987: 50).
The genre of soap operas was often thought of as a â€˜womanâ€™sâ€™ genre, for those housewives with limited capacity and simple taste or those women who are socially and romantically inadequate. This however, over the past years has changed considerably and soap operas have been known to benefit the education of cultures and thus aid in the development of those countries. One of the main issues that have recently been dealt with in many soap operas across the globe and in many countries around the world is the issue of HIV/AIDS. Soap operas have been an educational marvel with the education of millions of people on the issues of HIV/AIDS as well as the factors that surround it (Matelski, 1999:231).
2.1.2 The History of the Soap Opera
The American press coined the term soap opera in the 1930â€™s to denote the extraordinarily popular genre of serialized domestic radio dramas. The term 'soap opera' can be broken down: Soap refers to the role played by the detergent manufacturers, especially Procter and Gamble, who exploited daytime serials to advertise and promote their products; opera is taken to refer to the tendency of this genre to be larger-than-life and excessively melodramatic (Kilborn, 1992: 26).
In the 1930â€™s the audio medium that is known as the radio became the platform for the soap opera, as we know it today. The first soap opera was broadcast over the air in the 1920â€™s and expanded to television in the 1940â€™s. On 21 February 1947, the first US soap opera â€œA Woman to Rememberâ€ was aired in the United States (Soap Opera History. 2004).
2.1.3 The Bold and the Beautiful
The Bold and the Beautiful is a CBS production that started on 23 March 1987. According to CBS (CBS. 2004), this is one of the longest running soap operas that is produced by Bell-Phillip Television Productions Inc. and still boasts four original cast members. It has an estimated 450 million viewers and is broadcast in 98 countries across the globe.
The narrative for the Bold and the Beautiful is the same as that of those that have gone and of those who are destined to stay. It is obvious form the statistics featured in the monthly additions of Screen Africa, that The Bold and the Beautiful has a growing interest amongst the television viewers of South Africa, and judging from these statistics the audience ratings are on the rise. According to the data recorded on the months of January through to May of 2004, the audience ratings increased from 14.13 to 16.85 (Audience Ratings. 2004).
According to the observations of the researcher, the basic plot follows that of two of the dominant fashion designing families in Los Angeles, the Forresterâ€™s and the Spectraâ€™s. The narrative follows their highs and lowâ€™s as well as the intertwining of the two families lives and the events that cause serious reprocushins for all involved. The blossoming of love, the endless marriages, the deception, the lies ,the tragedy of deaths and the wonders births captivate the minds, hearts and souls of audiences across the globe to make The Bold and the Beautiful on of the most loved soap operas of our time.
3. The Theory of Emotion
For the purpose of this study on the emotions evoked in the female audience during the viewing of The Bold and the Beautiful, the following chapter will focus on the theory as well as related theories to be used to further examination of the emotional response in the female audience when viewing the soap opera The Bold and The Beautiful. A section shall also be dedicated to the explanation of emotions, so as to gain a further foothold in the research process.
3.1 A Dissection of the term â€œEmotionâ€
According to Western (1999: 500), an emotion or affect (a synonym for emotion), is an evaluative response (a positive or negative feeling) that typically includes some combination of physiological arousal, subjective experience and behavioural or emotional expression. Further more, he suggests that according to the James Lang Theory (Western, 1999: 484), an emotional response is highly physical, and that we act in a physical way towards our emotions. He further states that emotions are highly individual and that people differ in emotional intensity from each other.
Another component of emotions is that of emotional expression, and that people, according to their culture, learn to control their expression of emotions due to their cultural backgrounds as well as their gender. This control of the emotions is labelled as display rules. It is stated within the context of display rules that woman experience emotions more intensely and often show greater competence in reading other peoples emotions, and thus react better to them. They are able to accomplish this by using certain patterns that are considered appropriate for their culture, sub-culture or in this specific case, gender (Western, 1999: 489).
One can further make the distinction between the different types of emotions. It is common knowledge that the basic emotions are those of happiness, sadness, anger, fear and disgust, and that different cultures distinguish between different emotional states. The best way to have a clear distinction between emotions is to follow the positive affect (pleasant emotion) and the negative affect (unpleasant emotion). It is however important to note that people differ in these emotional states as emotions are experienced on a different level for each individual. Emotional regulation attempts to control the emotions experienced by individuals (Western, 1999: 505).
3.2 The Theory of Explanation
3.2.1 The Social Psychology of Media Consumption
It is evident from the above explanations that this study of the audience is one that is highly psychological as is deals with the emotions evoked in female audience members, and that in fact the whole issue surrounding emotions leans towards a very psychological forte. The theory that shall be made use of for the purpose of this study is that of The Social Psychology of Media Consumption. According to Pitout (1998: 284), there must be an understanding of the psychological relationships between messages and consumers, with emphasis on the psychological states. In order for an individual to make sense of the texts that they receive, the viewer needs to generate meaning to provide an explanation of understanding. The development of these meanings lays in both cognitive and affective (emotional) dimensions.
Both the affective as well as the cognitive dimensions each play their own role in the explanation of the media that the viewers receive. According to Grossberg et al (1998:288) , a great deal of cognitive activity goes on when we consume the media. This act of cognition refers to how we as the viewers make sense of the world, through the application of consciousness. The entire act of cognition includes mental processes such as perception, memory, imagination, interpretation and understanding. All of the basic elements that lures the audience to the pit of the soap opera.
The cognition is only one part of the theory that makes up The Social Psychology of Media Consumption, and it only attempts to explain where the hidden abilities to psychologically function are hidden. One of the first areas to explore regarding the emotions evoked in the audience of soap operas is that of the affective or emotional dimension of this broad theory (Grossberg et al, 1998: 285).
3.2.2 The Affective Dimension
The psychological state of the audience often aids in the understanding of the relationship between the audience and the media, however it is important to note that these psychological states are individual and also relate to the social circumstances of the audience.
Grossberg et al (1998: 285), proposed three affective states and their relation to the media. These three affective states shall be the main focus for this study, however, the cognitive dimension shall also be discussed, as it refers to the mind in which these affects are produced.
The three affective states are as follows, emotional state, mood state and pleasure state. The emotional state refers to certain feelings that are caused by our interaction with the media. The media often use emotional appeal to manipulate the audience and to invoke certain feelings such as â€˜feeling good.â€™ This type of emotional appeal is evident in advertisements for beauty products, such as facial creams and hair loss products. Advertising executives are cleaver in that they use celebrities that they know the audience can identify with, for example a soap opera character to sell the product, because they know that the audience of that particular soap will go out and buy the product. An example of this would be the LUX campaign and the use of Hunter Tylo, a well known, loved and beautiful character on The Bold and the Beautiful, as the â€˜LUX girlâ€™ (Grossberg et al, 1998: 285).
Grossberg et al (1998: 285) also noticed that the audience in turn use the media to experience certain emotions. The audience will deliberately watch a television series; film or sports match because they know that they will experience certain emotions such as happiness, shedding a tear, frustration or jubilation. Grossberg et alâ€™s (1998: 285) research results also state that an audience does not get tired of emotional experiences. This becomes evident with a particular film, television show or sports event is watched over and over again.
The second affect is the mood state. To define a mood is something that is closely linked to our emotions and can thus have an effect on them. For example, one moment we may be happy and the next sad. The affect of happy and sad are directly emotional charges, but the spontaneous shift from the one to the other can be defined as a mood change, thus the two have an effect on each other. One of the most powerful ways of affecting an audienceâ€™s mood is through music. Within the soap opera genre, the use of music heightens a specific scene of importance and thus creates an emotion in the audience similar to that of a motion picture. A mood of tension, happiness or sadness, which in turn affects the emotions of the viewer. Considering the fact that the viewer is selective in their viewing choices and the need for certain emotional stimulation often guides this choice. Thus, this can be linked to the Uses and Gratifications theory (Grossberg et al, 1998: 285).
The third and last state is the pleasure state. The main reason for the watching visual images or listening to audio signals is to satisfy a need of pleasure, or simply put â€˜because we enjoy itâ€™. This state of pleasure can also be linked to the Uses and Gratification Theory. The audience member is satisfying the individual need to sit back and enjoy their favourite television show. There are three main reasons for this pleasure state. The first being that the media affords an escape to forget about negative situations. Thus it aids in putting your bad day behind you, and to just sit back and enjoy the moment. The second reason is that according to Pitout (1998: 284), many viewers find it pleasurable to identify with a particular character.
188.8.131.52 The Uses and Gratification Theory
The Uses and Gratifications Theory, states that the audience is actively involved in the selection of messages to satisfy certain needs, can be linked to the above mentioned mood state. This is suggested, because most soap opera audience members watch the shows for their involvement and emotional response that they need to satisfy a given need at that moment in time. This theory can be linked to both the mood and pleasure states of the affective dimensions (Grossberg et al, 1998: 285).
This issue of identification can be related to the Reception Theories, which has interests in the way that the viewer interprets messages. This identification issue reinforces certain beliefs, morals and norms that both the viewer as well as the individual experience. According to Pitout (1998: 284) and her work on the Reception Theories, identification with a character can bring about the issues of imitation, role modelling and parasocial interaction. This identification further induces the pleasure derived from watching that particular character in their respective shows.
The third and last reason for the pleasure state is that of gossip. Even though the act is in a sense not morally correct, are aids in the enjoyment of the show for the viewer. The viewerâ€™s involvement in the personal as well as emotional life of a character aids to the pleasure of watching them on television and knowing what they will do when they go home or who they are currently involved in a relationship with. This pleasure state is especially true to soap fans, who at every opportunity gossip about everybody in the soap to their friends and colleagues (Grossberg et al, 1998: 285).
3.2.3 The Cognitive Dimension
Hoijer (1992: 170) identified the following concepts and mind processes that will aid in the complex discussion of the cognitive dimension. Universal, cultural, and individual experiences together with, cognitive schemas which consists of mode and perspectivising schemas as well as psycho-dynamic processes, all of which aim to explain the cognitive dimension that explains how the mind interprets the mediaâ€™s messages.
To understand the cognitive processes, one needs to have an understanding of how cognition is influenced through our experiences. The universal-human experiences are those basic experiences that one has because we are human and these are shared experiences among everyone. Such experiences are birth, childhood, adulthood, illness and death. It is through these common experiences that the narratives of soap operas are made possible and that the audience is able to relate to it, because we all share a common understanding of human life. Cultural experiences are products such as norms, values and our role in society. These cultural experiences we grow up with and in a since are born into. Private experiences are those that are unique to the individual and will only have reference to your specific cognitive schema (Hoijer, 1992: 289).
The cognitive schema is the essential tool that aids in the interpretation of messages and contains all the information needed for interpretation. The cognitive schemas can be subdivided into mode and perspectivising schemas. Mode schemas can be further divided into two narrative and paradigmatic schemas, which help in organising our experience. The narrative schema refers to how we as individuals tell stories, how we develop and form them. This narrative develops form childhood and grows according to our life experiences (Pitout, 1998:283).
The paradigmatic schema refers to reasoning and how concepts are formed. Essentially this schema is fact, argument and proposition based. The perspectivising schemas or super-themes allow the viewer to interperate news and daily events. The use of metaphoric terms and ideological views concerning reality are the base of this schema. The psychodynamic process takes place within an individual and is related to personal experiences that can only relate to the individual alone (Hoijer, 1998: 173).
The soap opera is one of the most popular genres in the television industry in this day. The amount of viewers is astounding, and the relationship as well as the emotional connection that the viewers have with the characters is fascinating.
This study with the use of The Social Psychology of Media Consumption Theory and with a specific emphasis on the affective dimension and reference to the Uses and Gratifications Theory will be used for the future study of the emotional response of female audience members to The Bold and the Beautiful, and will be conducted in an informed as well as orderly way.
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH DESIGN
Once the proposed research topic has been decided upon, and the literature study has been reviewed, and all of the information required for the purpose of the study has been collected, the actual details regarding how the research is to be conducted is put forward in this, the research design.
The design for this paper that centers on, what emotional responses are evoked in the female audience during the viewing of the Bold and the Beautiful, will be conducted within a focus group with an open narrative questionnaire to provide a more in-depth analysis.
2. Qualitative Research
Two research approaches that are embedded in the roots of communication research are qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative research is positivist or empirical and restricts itself to data experiences and rejects any form of speculation (Du Plooy, 2001: 21). Qualitative research leans towards a more critical approach and attempts to interpret and construct the qualitative aspects of communication experiences (Du Plooy, 2001: 29). For the purpose of this research essay, the qualitative research approach shall be followed. The reason for this type of research is to enable the researcher to spend time with the participant, so as to study their emotional outbursts towards the soap opera.
Qualitative research has many different labels such as, field research, ethnography; alternative research and interpretive research. There are many other labels to which one can attach qualitative research, however for a basic understanding of what this type of research is one can think of it as follows: the data needed for the research is collected by the researcher who spends time with the participants over a period of time by making use of field research. It is important to understand that qualitative research is reflective approach that makes use of focus groups and questionnaires as the data collection techniques (Du Plooy, 2001: 29).
This qualitative focus will be conducted in the form of triangulation. According to Du Plooy (2002: 39) â€œthe combination of two or more data-collection methods and referencing to multiple sources of information to obtain data, are generally referred to as triangulation.â€ The design of triangulation not only applies to the collection of data using different sampling methods, but according to De Vos (1998: 359) and Johnson (1997: 282-292), this type of research design tests the theoretical assumptions in more than one way, and increases the reliability and the validity of observations, analyses and findings.
4. Data Collection Techniques
The methods for the collection of data in this study are in the form of focus groups and questionnaires.
According to Du Plooy (2002:100), sampling is the selection of units of analysis from a larger population. Population, not only refers to people, but also any group or aggregate of people. In order for an accurate sample to be drawn, the researcher must make a clear distinction between the target population and the accessible population.
The method of sample selection can be conducted with the aid of population parameters. According to Du Plooy (2002:100), a population parameter refers to the common characteristics that the sample group have with each other. In order to determine if the sample is accurate in itâ€™s representations of the population parameters, the accuracy of the sample needs to be considered, the level of confidence and the amount of sampling error needs to be considered.
In order to draw an accurate sample, Stacks and Hocking (1992:180), introduced three factors that aid in determining the accurate sampling of a population: population parameters, the size of the sample and the standard error of measurement.
The population parameters have previously been discussed and the size of the sample drawn is to follow. The sample drawn will be that of a homogeneous population and will be a non-probability sample with particular influence in the convenience sample category of this section. The non-probability sample has both strengths as well as weaknesses. A few weaknesses include:
â€¢ A sampling frame cannot be complied
â€¢ The researcher predicts the units of analysis
â€¢ The sample is not representative of the target population
(Du Plooy, 2001:113).
For the focus group to not be generalized, a convenience sample of the population will be drawn. According to Du Plooy (2002:114), a convenience sample is one that will be drawn form units of analysis that are conveniently available. This sample is also often referred to as an accidental, available or opportunity sample.
4.2 Focus Groups
According to Du Plooy (2002:178), â€œfocus groups are interviews conducted in small groups that can include different interviewing techniques and can take place in different settings.â€ She further states that focus groups â€œprovides data that is rich in ideas and provides attitudes from the subjects point of view.â€
Focus groups aid the researcher in â€œgathering data on a specific research problem and in determining mass media audiencesâ€™ attitudes, perceptions, frames of reference and behavior.â€ (Du Plooy, 2002: 179)
For the purpose of this study, two focus groups will be used, all of the volunteers will have to have a prior knowledge of The Bold and the Beautiful, and be able to answer questions about the programme as well as about their emotional response to the episodes shown during the focus group.
The focus groups will meet twice. Once to discuss The Bold and the Beautiful and to have a general discussion about the show, thus to give the researcher the opportunity to observe their emotional behavior towards the show without watching it, and then once again to watch five episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful, to be proceeded by the researcher asking questions of an open-ended nature and free narrations, which will lead the group into another discussion. (Du Plooy, 2001: 143). The two different focus groups will give the researcher the opportunity to witness the two different types of emotional behaviors, from memory and from pure adrenaline and exhilaration. In order for the findings of the group to be accurately drawn, with the permission of the group, the proceedings shall be recorded via a camera for much further analysis.
4.3 The Questionnaire
The pre-prepared questions that will be prepared for the focus group are unstructured in nature, thus meaning that they are open-ended, free-narration questions. (Du Plooy, 2001: 143)
The open-ended question allows the subject in the focus group to answer the question in the way that she wishes to do so, and since the open-ended question has no structure, the subject can elicit ideas or feelings that the research may not have even considered. A free-narration question is similar to an open-ended question in that it invites the subject to tell her own story, to share her own feelings and responses.
Once the focus groups have been conducted, the prepared questions asked and the video footage analyzed, the data collected will be applied to the Social Psychology of Media Consumption and thus related to the theories main stand point of the psychological relationship between the message and the consumer, with particular reference to the cognitive and affective dimensions of this theory (Du Plooy, 2002: 143).
The aim of the research design is to determine the types of methods to be employed in the gathering of the data, in order to make the collection techniques as smooth and error free as possible, so that the researcher can conduct the interview professionally and to the best of his or her ability. With the use of the focus group and the pre-prepared questionnaire, the data gathering should prove to be successful.
1. Focus Group
For the purpose of this study is, to achieve maximum results to aid in the data collection, a focus group will be made use of as well as questionnaires administered within the focus group. This will provide information on attitudes, opinions, ideaâ€™s and point of view regarding the topic, so as data can be recorded for data analysis. Under this section, the factors that affect the focus group will be divided up into sub-sections that illustrate how the focus group will be conducted.
1.1 The objectives of the focus-group
A focus group is one of the most useful data gathering methods, which have a variety of objectives that need to be emphasized. According to Du Plooy (2002: 179), the following can be identified as the objectives of the focus group:
â€¢ Gather data on a specific research problem
â€¢ Testing hypothesis
â€¢ Pilot tests
â€¢ Identifying problems that the audience might have with a specific mass medium
â€¢ Problem solving
â€¢ Determining mass media audiencesâ€™ perceptions, attitudes, frames of reference and patterns of behavior.
1.2 Procedures of a focus group
There are a number of steps to follow in the terms of conducting a focus group. The first is for the moderator, or researcher, to clearly identify the research problem either in general terms (the emotions evoked in soap operas) or in specific terms (the emotional response of the female audience during the viewing of the Bold and the Beautiful). These topics then need to have been formulated into a moderator guide that consists of pre-formulated questions that will guide the researcher as well as the focus group through the procedure. The moderator need not stick to the guide, but only use it as an outline (Du Plooy, 2001: 101).
The second step is to determine whether the group sampled, is of a purposeful or convenience sample. For this study, a purposeful sample will be made use of because all of the members will have a shared common experience to soap operas. For the purpose this study two focus groups will be made use of (one for discussion and one for observation) and will consist of between six to eight females who are all the same age and speak English as either their first or second language (Du Plooy, 2001: 114).
The third and fourth steps consist of the groupâ€™s consent as well as the surroundings for the conduction of the focus group. The surrounding of the focus group can largely influence the results (Du Plooy, 2001: 114).
1.3 Sources of error
Measurement errors also need to be dealt with. According to Du Plooy (2001: 181), there are other sources of error to contend with in addition to external and situational factors. These errors are as follows:
â€¢ Social factors (Absence of members, lack of anonymity)
â€¢ Lack of Compliance (Subject agrees with the statements irrespective of there content)
â€¢ Deviation (Tendency to give unusual response)
The use of control procedures is administered so as to minimize the errors. Such control procedures include the use of â€˜throw awayâ€™ questions.
2. Questions asked during the Focus Group
The following questions were asked during the focus group:
â€¢ Discuss the basic storyline of The Bold and the Beautiful.
â€¢ What are your opinions on the current love triangles in the show?
â€¢ Do you frequently visit soap opera websites?
â€¢ Which characters do you feel you can relate to?
â€¢ Who are your favorite characters?
â€¢ Who do you dislike?
â€¢ Why do you think that woman in particular get so emotionally involved in soap operas?
â€¢ Why do you think that you build such a close relationship with the characters?
â€¢ What type of emotions do you think you experience most whilst watching The Bold and the Beautiful?
â€¢ What are your opinions on the writers?
â€¢ Do you think that the storyline reflects reality?
3. The Questionnaire
This questionnaire will be self-administrated and will consist of open-ended questions. The reason for this is that the open-ended questions encourage the expression of attitudes and opinions within the individual of the focus group. Before the questionnaire will be handed out, a weekâ€™s episode of the Bold and the Beautiful will be viewed by the entire focus group, this will aid in leading us into a discussion.
3.1 The measuring instrument
The following is an example of the questionnaire to be used, it continues on the following page.
Questionnaire on the emotional response of the female audience during the viewing of the Bold and the Beautiful.
Thank you for taking the time to participate in this study. This research is being conducted to aid in the studies of Sandra Pretorius.
The following is a questionnaire relating to the emotions experienced by woman whilst viewing soap operaâ€™s, in particular the Bold and the Beautiful.
Please complete the questionnaire as honestly as possible and include your personal information for future studies. All information received in this document shall remain confidential.
Name and Surname
Field of Study
How long have you been watching soap operas for? (Please circle)
1 Month 6 Months 1 Year Longer than 5 Years
Do you watch the Bold and the Beautiful?
Do you watch the Bold and the Beautiful on a regular basis?
With whom do you watch the Bold and the Beautiful?
c. My boyfriend/husband
Do your friends watch the Bold and the Beautiful?
Yes Sometimes I donâ€™t know No
Do you get upset if you do not watch the Bold and the Beautiful?
Did you watch the scene of Taylor Forrester dying?
If YES, how did you feel about it?
Do you ever get physically or mentally angry at the soap?
Yes Sometimes No
If YES, please explain these emotional outbursts.
Briefly please give your thoughts on the following characters of the Bold and the Beautiful.
1. Brooke Logan
2. Ridge Forrester
3. Sally Spectra
4. Eric Forrester Jr.
5. Deacon Sharpe
6. Stephanie Forrester
7. Massimo Maroni
Who is you favorite character and why?
Which character do you dislike the most and why?
Thank you for your cooperation and time.
Your emotions will are greatly appreciated.
CHAPTER 4: DATA INTERPREATATION
The focus group held to determine the research results for this study on emotions, was a great success. The groups were enthusiastic, highly active in the discussion and felt so strongly over the soap opera that an argument broke out between some of the ladies. The data collected was highly relevant and shall be discussed and analyzed according to the theories previously discussed in chapters two and three. Graphs will also be made use of to further highlight certain points.
2. Interpretation of the findings
Once the raw data was analyzed, four categories were identified in which the focus group as well as questionnaires were grouped. These categories as well as the findings from the focus group are listed below, and are discussed according to how they relate to the specific theories that are employed in this research.
2.1 The amount of time spent watching Soap Operas
Everyone from the focus group has been watching soap operas for more than five years, and watches their favorite soap opera everyday, and usually with their families. It was also noted that most, if not all of their female and some of their male friends also watch the soap opera. The Social Psychology of Media Consumption can thus explain this finding and itâ€™s affective states. These affective states fall under the categories of emotional, mood as well as pleasure. For the purpose of this category the pleasure state shall be referred to. According to one of the points under this state, gossiping aids in the pleasure of watching the show. According to Grossberg et al (1998, 287), the pleasure state is especially true to soap opera fans, who at every opportunity gossip about everybody in the soap opera. Upon calculation, the average viewing hours are 3650 per a year. However, this viewing pleasure does not include the amount of time that the viewers spend searching for soap opera information on the Internet.
2.2 The emotions experiences whilst viewing The Bold and the Beautiful
According to the viewers who participated in the focus group, a variety of emotions are experienced during the viewing of an episode. Some of these emotions are those of hatred, anger, excitement, confusion as well as actual physical emotional acts of crying, laughing and the occasional bout of yelling at the television set. However, according to my findings, only one of the viewers actually get physical and threw the television remote at the set during a episode of The Bold and the Beautiful.
When asked the reason for these emotional outbursts, the viewers replied that they could not really explain it, but felt that it was because they are woman and because they are sensitive. This point can be proven by Western(1999: 489), who stated that woman are more sensitive to emotion because of their gender. They also stated that it was possibly due to the fact that they felt such a close affiliation to the characters and because they have been watching it for so long.
This category and the findings discussed in it are those similar to the points stated in the anatomy of the affective states of the Social Psychology of Media Consumption. This category falls under emotional state. According to Grossberg et al (1998, 287), the emotional state refers to certain feelings that are caused by our interaction with the media. It is clear from these findings that a true emotional experience occurs whilst viewing The Bold and the Beautiful, ands that the viewers don not get tired of these emotions and thus watch the show deliberately, every day to experience them. The following graph represents the percentage between the viewers mental and physical emotions expressed whilst viewing soap operas.
Fig. 1. Main emotions experienced.
2.3 Their reason for watching soap operaâ€™s
These responses can be linked to the previous category and the reason for the emotional outbursts, in that the viewers are able to identify with the characters and the situations in which they find themselves. It was also noted that the viewers felt that the soap opera is a form of escapism, even though the situations resembled those of reality. When asked to please further explain, the viewers said that it was good to see it happen to someone else, and you can just sit back, watch and be intrigued by what they do in similar situations. The viewers also felt that they had built strong relationships between themselves and the characters in The Bold and the Beautiful. These relationships were mostly friendships and the viewers reacted strongly to the soap opera if something happened to the specific character with which they have a â€œfriendshipâ€.
The Uses and Gratifications Theory is applied to the reason why the viewers watch the soap opera. According to Pitout (1998, 244), this theory, states that the audience are actively involved in the selection of messages to satisfy certain needs. This is suggested, because most soap opera audience members watch the shows for their involvement and emotional response that they need to satisfy a given need at that moment in time. This theory can be linked to both the mood and pleasure states of the affective dimensions.
According to the research, all of the viewers watched the soap opera for different reasons, and thus to get something different out of it than the next person. This is the reason for the link to the mood and pleasure states. Everyone watches The Bold and the Beautiful for a different reason to satisfy a different need according to a specific situation that they are currently in reality.
2.4 The viewers opinions about the characters
Upon investigation, the two favorite characters in The Bold and the Beautiful are Stephanie Forrester and Brooke Logan. Within the questionnaire as well as the focus group, these two characters were always the topic of discussion. According to my findings, the viewers love to hate these specific characters and majority of the viewers felt that without Brooke Logan, there would be no reason to watch the soap opera. The other characters, especially the males, all the ladies felt were very sexually appealing.
It is possible to say the reason for the character like and dislike can be related to the dimensions of the pleasure state. Specifically referring to the enormity of the likeness of the audience towards Stephanie Forrester and Brooke Logan, one can arrive at the conclusion that the audiences love the villain, and in the case of these two character, both posses this quality, however, both also possess the qualities of the â€œgood guyâ€, but not too often, thus it is determined that the audience find the villains far more entertaining and very often give that as their reason for watching the show. Essentially, they gain pleasure out of watching evil geniuses disrupt peopleâ€™s lives. The following graph represents the percentage differences between the viewerâ€™s favorite characters.
Fig 2. Favorite Characters
3. Research Questions
The findings have been discussed and the theories applied, now the research questions, previously stated in the research proposal, can now be answered.
The three research questions asked are as follows:
â€¢ What types of emotions are evoked during the viewing of The Bold and the Beautiful?
â€¢ Do the viewers identify with the characters?
â€¢ Do the viewers identify with the situations in The Bold and the Beautiful?
3.1 What type of emotions are evoked during the viewing of The Bold and the Beautiful?
The types of emotions evoked are both mental as well as physical emotions. The mental emotions refer to a number of different outbursts, both internal as well as external, which include the emotions of anger, happiness, sadness, disbelief, fear, excitement and intrigue, to mention few. The physical emotions evoked refer to, the yelling at the television set as well as the occasional throwing of items at the screen as well as crying an laughing
Thus, it can be said that strong emotions are evoked during soap operas that can be described as both mental (internal) as well as physical (external) bout of emotional response.
3.2 Do the viewers identify with the characters?
A definite yes is the answer to this question. The viewers felt that they were able to identify with the characters because they were able to identify with the situation that the characters find themselves in. Also by developing â€œfriendshipsâ€ with the characters, the viewers find a common ground on which they are able to identify with the character.
3.3 Do the viewers identify with the situations in The Bold and the Beautiful?
As mentioned above, the viewers do identify with the situation, through their identification with the characters. It was also noted that the viewers who participated in the focus group, strongly feel that there is an element of reality in the soap opera, which also aids in their identification of the situation within The Bold and the Beautiful.
4. The Success of the Theories
From the above interpretation of the data as well as applying the findings to the theories of choice for this research dissertation, one is able to determine weather or not the theories were able to support the findings. It is obvious from reading the interpretation, that they do support the findings of the questionnaire as well as the focus group and that they were successful in aiding in the answering of the three research questions to their full proximity.
Each theory stood to prove a point regarding audience behaviour. Both of the theories used being the Social Psychology of Media Consumption as well as the Uses and Gratifications Theory; aim to explain why the audience watch television, what they experience whilst doing so and how they interpret what the see into something that they are able to relate to.
The theories thus proved to be successful in this dissertation as they aided in proving that the female audience experience a variety of emotional responses whilst viewing The Bold and the Beautiful.
The findings of this research were in accordance to the research aims previously discussed. All of the points that were made were proven correct by the theories used and the research has been successfully completed.
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