Theses and Dissertations - Department of Communication (CIS), General

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    Big Data Analysis of Twitter-Based Sports Fandom: Celebrating Our Achievements Together During the 2019 Fifa Women World Cup
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Fan, Minghui; Billings, Andrew C.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    ABSTRACT Social identification theory suggests that individuals try to categorize themselves into one group with people who shared similarities with them. While this premise applies to sports fans, nations, teams, and gender could be all sharing traits for sports fans to build group identities. Meanwhile, scholarship has uncovered that sports fans prefer to associate themselves with successful teams (i.e., Basking in Reflected Glory, or BIRGing) and to disassociate themselves from unsuccessful teams (i.e., Cutting Off Reflected Failure, or CORFing). Therefore, the purpose of the current study devoted to exploring whether sports fans identified with teams and nations, and how likely national identification and team identification lead to BIRG or CORF on Twitter about England’s matches against Norway, the United States of America (USA), and Scotland and USA’s matches against England, Spain, Chile, and Thailand during the 2019 Fédération Internationale de Football Association Women’s World Cup (FIFA WWC). Additionally, previous literature has confirmed that as a result of media consumption of sporting events, sports in media are male-dominated and may result in perceiving sports through male-gaze and categorizing sports in terms of sports gender typing. This study tried to observe whether the national and team identification outplay the gender differences in the audience. In Studies 1 and 2, statistical analysis and machine learning results both revealed that English fans tended to BIRG when England was leading or victorious. U.S. fans demonstrated the same behavior, BIRGing when the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) was winning. However, English fans and U.S. fans were both less likely to CORF even though their team was losing or trailing. Rather, the identification with the nation or the team only brings fans together to celebrate. Thus, it is proposed that COATing was more accurate to describe sports fans’ reactions on Twitter. In Study 3, the unsupervised topic modeling analysis revealed that some English fans still BIRFed when USWNT finally beat the Lionesses. This finding challenged an essential assumption about social identification theory, which the inter-group difference does not necessarily result in ridicules or negative attitudes toward the out-group members. Further, by adopting a gender-guessing library from the Python dictionary, the names provided by Twitter users were analyzed for analyzing gender differences among the audience. Findings show that men were more likely to discuss FIFA WWC than women on Twitter. Meanwhile, it offered evidence that women cared less than men about female athletes and female sports. This implied gender differences were not minimized because of the national identity in mega-sporting events. Methodological contributions, theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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    Blackballed: An Empirical Examination of the Impact of Race, Gender, and Identity on the Sports Image Repair Process
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Rush, Stephen Wesley; Brown, Kenon A.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The spectacle of sports in America has consistently been shown to be a financial powerhouse (PwC, 2019). However, when there is a huge potential for financial gain, there also comes the risk of a huge potential financial loss. When athletes commit an act that is deemed offensive or inappropriate, there is the possibility to incur millions of dollars in lost revenue (Rishe, 2016). So, understanding the most successful way at safeguarding or repairing the image of an athlete is important. However, the image repair process is not as simple as it may seem. Therefore, this dissertation empirically investigated how one’s own identity influenced their reactions to the athlete image repair process. Using both Social Identity Theory and Image Repair Theory, this study explored how better understanding the identity of an audience could also lead to better understanding of the success of image repair strategies. A national sample of 368 individuals participated in an online posttest only experiment. During the experiment, participants were randomly assigned to view one of eight message conditions. Following this, participants responded to a series of questions assessing account acceptability, athlete likeability, likelihood to repeat the act, willingness to share negative word of mouth (nWOM), role model perceptions, and supportive behavior of the athlete. Results supported previous IRT literature in showing the mortification strategy to be the most successful strategy at repairing an athlete’s image, Black participants actually rated athletes that used the denial strategy to be more likeable. Race was also seen to be a strong indicator for how each race condition viewed the athlete in terms of likelihood to repeat the act with White participants believing that the athlete in question was more likely to repeat the act than Black participants or Other participants. White participants also showed slight in-group favoritism towards the White athlete. Another interesting finding was that White participants were more likely to share negative word of mouth about a White athlete regardless of response strategy used and regardless of gender. When looking at how gender impacted the image repair process, it was found that overall, male participants were more likely to accept the account of female athletes, consider female athletes to be more likeable than the male athletes, and believe female athletes were less likely to recommit the crime.
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    Hostile Media Perception in the Age of Social Media: The Role of Social Identity
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Cooks, Eric; Bissell, Kimberly; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    In an effect known as hostile media perception (HMP), a perceptual bias believed to be driven by social identity processes, partisans tend to view objective news media as hostile towards their position. As advances in digital technology increase online news use, the inherent features and communicative properties of these technologies can influence how we express ourselves online and how we perceive online news content. This dissertation examined the impact of identity-related heuristics within social media comment on the HMP. Taking a social identity approach, a series of experiments tested the effects of audience position on the issue of arming teachers and perceived comment identity on the HMP. Audience position had a significant effect across studies as supporters of arming teachers reported greater HMP; evidence points to religiosity as a potential moderator of this relationship. Results for comment identity were mixed. Outgroup comments generally led to increased HMP; however, the difference was not significant across studies. There was also evidence of associations between outgroup comments and affective responses of defensiveness and negative emotion. The findings of this study offer support for the self-categorization explanation of the HMP, while contributing methodologically to the study of the HMP in the context of mobile social media. Results are discussed in light of literature on social identity and biased perception of online news.
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    Civil Rights Collecting Institutions and the Facilitation of Public Engagement in the American South
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Hirschy, Jeff; Riter, Robert B.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Across the American South, civil rights memory institutions created by city and state governments and private organizations, preserve and communicate complex civil rights histories. Each of these institutions, for different reasons, influenced by their particular cultural, historical, and community contexts, emerged to preserve and present this information to their communities. In addition to their individual contexts, each institution has various organizational and community contexts, for example mission statements or community support and interest, that helps to drive their relationships with their chosen communities. These archival and historical elements influence the facilitation of relationships between civil rights memory institutions, their communities, and the generation of new ideas and concepts. Examples of this engagement can be seen at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Mississippi. This study will investigate how contexts, generated by the histories of Birmingham and Mississippi, inform how these institutions were created, organized, and how they engage with their chosen communities.
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    Representation, Public Practices, and Women of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Willis, George Paul; Horsley, Jacqueline S; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    On the Poarch Band of Creek Indians reservation, men are publicly recognized in the community on a frequent basis. Informed by Indigenous feminist theory, the purpose of this research is to understand how women of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians consider their presence in the public memory at three public displays curated by their own tribe: The Creek Travel Plaza, The Wind Creek Casino, and The Poarch Band of Creek Indians Museum (Kerretv En Cuko), all located in the Atmore, Alabama area. This research also seeks to understand how gender matters to Indigenous women’s experience the tribal displays. Seven women of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians were purposefully selected and interviewed on their reservation. Utilizing a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, interview transcriptions were analyzed and constructed into four themes: humble/rough beginnings, display strengths/deficiencies, backbone, (re)orientation /”we’re still here.” With the inclusion of these themes, a narrative was produced by balancing interpretations, excerpts and paraphrasing interview responses. The participants consider the three tribal public displays as a way to bolster their legitimacy as Indigenous people and to correct inaccurate cultural knowledge for their own tribal members. In addition to this, the women of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians find their own presence in the tribe’s public memory as understandably deficient in the past but rather invisible as they are fortified in public places today.
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    Effectiveness of Persuasive Attacks on Perceptions of Blame and Offensiveness for a Sexual Assault on a College Campus
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Cordingly, Lindsay Megan; Brown, Kenon A.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Benoit and Dorries (1996) identified strategies known as kategoria, or persuasive attacks, used to initiate attacks against a person or organization that has engaged in wrongdoing, affording researchers a framework for empirical analysis. There are two categories of strategies: increase responsibility and increase offensiveness. Based on a review of previous research, an empirical investigation of persuasive attacks has not yet been undertaken. Therefore, the present study empirically tests the effects of two types of persuasive messages through an experiment investigating sexual assault allegations on a college campus. The overarching goal is to understand the impact of persuasive attacks against different actors (university, suspect, and victim) present in media articles on perceptions of responsibility and/or offensiveness of a transgression. The study utilized an experimental design, a 3 (target of attack: university, suspect, victim) x 3 (type of persuasive attack: increase responsibility, increase offensiveness, increase responsibility and offensiveness) x 2 (gender of victim) between-subject factorial design. Findings indicated that presence of persuasive attacks to increase responsibility are effective when the target of the attack was the university or victim, but not when the target was the suspect. Additionally, the presence of persuasive attacks to increase offensiveness were effective against the university, but not against the suspect or the victim. Demographic analysis suggested that respondent gender, income level, education level, and age are all significant predictors of university and suspect responsibility levels; however, age was not a significant predictor of victim responsibility levels. Findings also indicated that even though there was not a statistically significant difference in suspect responsibility levels, the suspect was perceived as having a high level of responsibility regardless of whether a persuasive attack was present. Findings also suggested there was no statistically significant difference whether the victim was male or female. There was a statistically significant finding that implied a significant interaction between attack type and attack target influencing levels of university responsibility, but only when the target of the attack is the university or victim. Finally, findings suggest that there is a small negative correlation between perceived responsibility of the suspect and the perceived responsibility of the victim; if the victim was viewed as more responsible, the suspect was viewed as less responsible.
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    “No Plan B Whatsoever”: Student Perception of Vocational Preparedness with Career Ambiguous Majors
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) George, Hannah K; Carmack, Heather J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Organizational socialization is the process of “becoming” within a defined group. This process begins with Anticipatory Socialization and the initial exposure to norms, behaviors, culture, and expectations of a defined organization. For the majority of individuals, an academic major relating to a future career is the first step in this journey; but how do students with a career-undefined major make sense of the skills learned in college and attribute them to future vocations? This dissertation uses Weick’s (1993) theory of Organizational Sensemaking, Jablin’s (1985) theory of Organizational Assimilation, and Knapp et al.’s (1981) concept of memorable messages to understand what employable skills students in career-undefined major feels they are learning, and what skills they feel they are lacking. Participants confirmed the sources of anticipatory socialization as described in Jablin’s 2001 work and identified a new source of “nonfamilial adults.” Messages and lasting impressions were gathered from intentional conversations as well as actions observed and deemed memorable by the participant, providing a context of Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977). Student-defined employable skills learned in the career-ambiguous major open the possibility for an additional stage in the Organizational Assimilation process that proceeds Vocational Anticipatory Socialization. Building on the ontology of the phrase “real job,” these messages obtained by vocational osmosis fit into the realm of “work socialization” (Clair, 1996, p. 265), which provides a space for messages outside of the specific organizational context. The stage of Workplace Anticipatory Socialization is where liberal arts majors and soft skills can have the most impact on student development, prior to encountering a specific organization or occupation. Recommendations are also presented for curriculum and assessment of career-ambiguous academic programs, based upon the information presented by students.
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    “I Pledge Allegiance”: Examining Motivations for Sport Fanship and Fandom in the American South
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Towery, Nathan A.; Billings, Andrew C.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    There are a number of motivations that exist in the formation of collegiate fanship and fandom. Through a mixed-method approach, this dissertation provides an in-depth examination into the motivations individuals have when establishing allegiances for collegiate sports teams. Through a qualitative investigation of 20 interviews of collegiate sports fans, deep meaningful descriptions of motivations were discovered. Qualitative results were then empirically tested through a survey administered to 411 collegiate sports fans that reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) was used as the theoretical framework for this dissertation to further understand the formation of groups and the in-group/out-group dynamic. Academic, as well as applied, implications for team identification, fan identification, rivalry, Basking in Reflected Glory, Glory Out of Reflected Failures, and state pride are all present. Family, social viewing, age, as well as many other motivations, emerged as strong motivating predictors.
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    A Brand New Game: a Phenomenalogical Study of How Student-Athletes and Mentors are Managing Personal Branding
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Adamson, Alyssa C; Armstrong, Cory L.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand how student-athletes are guided and mentored to develop and manage their personal brands within their respective athletic departments. With the introduction of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) legislation across the United States, this has emerged as a pressing topic within collegiate amateur athletics for both student-athletes and university and athletic department administrators. Nineteen total participants split between current and former student-athletes and current athletics mentors from a middle-tier NCAA Division I, were interviewed in a semi-structured interview process about their perceptions and experiences in student-athlete personal brand development and management. Interview responses were evaluated using separate research questions for current and former student-athletes and athletics mentors. Research questions for student-athletes focused on whether they perceived they had a brand and if they believed they had the tools to manage their brand. Research questions for mentors centered on what they perceived their role in the brand management process was. One major theme that presented itself was that student-athletes either did not perceive themselves as having a brand or did not feel like they were given the tools to successfully build their own brand. However, student-athletes did respond that athletic academic mentors did shape the way they networked with alumni and impacted the academic achievements they strove for demonstrating that there was a component of brand building on-going within the student-athlete phase of life. In contrast to what student-athletes reported, many athletic academic mentors responded that they perceived they had little to no role in helping build a student’s brand and most mentors believed other members of the athletic and academic community should be responsible for training. This juxtaposition in thinking between student-athletes and mentors emerged as the main point of emphasis in the results of this study.
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    "The World Ain't All Sunshine and Rainbows": Enacting the Athlete Identity Narrative in Stigmatizing Mental Health Communication
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Zengaro, Elisabetta; Bissell, Kimberly; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The purpose of this dissertation was to examine how athletes construct mental health by researching how mental health is communicated to athletes and the role of athlete identity in contributing to stigma of mental health. The following research questions guided this research: 1) What influences athletes’ interpersonal communication about mental health? 2) How do social media outlets and online forums impact athletes’ communication about mental health? 3) What role does athlete identity have in stigma of mental health? Using the theoretical framework of the communication theory of identity as a guide, this dissertation examined how multiple frames of identity contribute the construction, communication, and perceived stigma of mental illness in college sports through a qualitative design where data were collected through individual interviews with 30 former and current college student-athletes and fieldnote observations. Participants were recruited through snowball sampling. They completed an online questionnaire to collect basic demographic information and completed the individual interview on Zoom. Individual interviews were conducted via Zoom, an online video conferencing platform to abide by public health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results of a thematic and narrative analysis in Chapter Four, yielded five themes: “Athlete Identity: Constructing the Narrative of What is an Athlete,” “Illness as a Mentality: The Toughness/Weakness Narrative in Navigating Mental Illness,” “Staying Strong: How Athlete Identity Contributes to the Stigma of Communicating Mental Illness,” “Social Media: Breaking the Barrier of Communication,” and “Moving Forward: Normalizing Mental Illness Disclosure in Sports.” Woven together, these results create a narrative that demonstrates how athlete identity affects the stigma and communication of mental illness in the sport environment. These findings add to gaps in existing literature of how mental health is communicated and defined in the sport environment.
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    "Hardly Home But Always Reppin'": Celebrity Transnational Athletes and Representations of National Identity
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Anderson, Johnathan S; Britt, Rebecca K; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Expanding on national identity literature that tends to focus its analysis on sports mega-events such as the Olympics or the World Cup, this project sought to examine the ways that certain athletes are both presented and serve as symbols of national identity for their home countries year-round, not just when they are acting as physical representations of their nation during international competition. Using a thematic analysis of both online coverage and Instagram posts of three celebrity soccer players (Christian Pulisic, Mohamed Salah, and Son Heung-min), this study discerned themes from across two distinct time periods: the 2018 World Cup (June – July 2018) and the second half of the 2019-20 Premier League season (January – June 2020) to illustrate how these athletes are being represented, and presenting themselves, as national cultural icons for the formation and affirmation of national identity in their home nations. The analysis found several primary themes, including representations of their athletic identity as both a competitor and a person, their impact on their nation in terms of what they are and what they do for the nation, and the comparisons and nicknames used to categorize and make sense of these athletes in terms of both their status as a citizen of their home nation as well as their status among the global elite in the sport.
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    Engaging Youth in the Hybrid Media Environment: Media Technological Attributes' Effects on Young People's Internet Political Efficacy During Second Screening
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Liu, Yiben; Lowrey, Wilson; Panek, Elliot; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Young people’s political engagements are important to the development of democracy. Though described as reluctant to engage in politics, when young people are invited to participate in politics on their own terms, they are more willing to participate. Second screening - using a supplement device alongside TV watching - is assumed to be a potentially effective tool to engage young people. Enabled by communication technology such as portable digital devices, wireless Internet accessibility, and extensive operating systems which make the portable devices “smart” (facilitating wider software, Internet, and multi-media functionality), second screening creates a hybrid media environment. This study aims to explore whether and what media technological attributes potentially work on young people's sense of political efficacy during second screening activities. Incorporating Eveland’s "mix-of-attributes" framework, a mixed-method design was developed to examine media effects through media technological attributes. Two focus group interviews were conducted to develop a set of perceived technological attributes of the convergent media use during second screening. Seven attributes were developed: easy access, recency, user control, hypertextuality, meantime manner, convenience, and lack of hierarchy. These attributes are expected to have potential influences on people’s political efficacy. The direct and indirect relationships among perceived technological attributes, second screening, and Internet political efficacy were tested through a survey. The measurement items of perceived technological attributes were examined. This paper 1) develops technological attributes potentially influencing youth political efficacy, 2) generates measurement items to represent the construct, 3) assesses the validity of the items, and 4) tests the direct relationships between technological attributes and Internet political efficacy, as well as their indirect relationships through second screening.Understanding media effects through its technological attributes not only advances media effect theory by addressing the challenge of understanding continuous media convergence and hybridization, but also provides practical implications for media users and creators. Besides, communicators can develop better media strategies to engage and mobilize the public once we understand what specific technological attributes are at play. However, this study by no means downplays the importance of social and human factors. This paper takes a middle route between technology determinism and social constructivism.
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    Gathering, Lathering, and Rathering Through the Pandemic: Comparing Theory of Planned Behavior and Expectancy Violations Theory Through the Lens of the College Student Experience
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Baldinelli, Sharon E.; Bissell, Kimberly; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    COVID-19 offered an unprecedented opportunity to apply two well-established theories in the context of a pandemic within a specific environment. The theory of planned behavior and expectancy violations theory brought insight into health behaviors and behavioral intention of college students on one major university campus. In addition, this study found that conceptual linkages between these two theories in the areas of attitudes, expectancy outcomes and perceived behavioral control. This study used survey methodology to examine how participants engaged in on-campus educational activities while being informed through the University of Alabama messages and other mainstream media. Participants’ trust in themselves, their opinion leaders, and University of Alabama administration were also evaluated. Results indicated that the theoretical constructs of the theory of planned behavior and expectancy value theory appear to work in tandem to predict participation of on-campus activities. This study provides a baseline for communication, potential actions, and trust for further research. Health professionals can utilize these findings for addressing health care concerns. Findings may also be useful for crisis or emergency leaders to craft their messaging for influencing college students and their decision-making strategies. Finally, this work suggests that these two theories be re-examined for potential new connections.
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    In-Group Versus Out-Group: Examining Truth-Bias and Language Use in Inter-Group Communication
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Fan, Xiaoti; Griffin, Darrin J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This dissertation is guided by the central premise of truth-default theory that examined whether truth-bias holds for communication with out-group members compared to communication with in-group members. Additionally, this dissertation investigated whether suspicion trigger sensitivity is higher for out-group members than in-group members. Participants were recruited to watch four speakers from the U.S. and China, and judged their honesty. The results suggested that people hold a stronger truth-bias towards those perceived as in-group members when that member shared the same opinion as them on the social issue. However, the results did not reveal a stronger truth-bias towards those who shared and valued the same culture. Moreover, all participants showed a higher suspicion trigger sensitivity towards out-group members who were from the different culture as them, and higher suspicion trigger sensitivity was also evident for those who shared different opinions on a social issue. Additionally, an investigation of language patterns was conducted that explored 24 speakers’ language usage when discussing a personal relationship topic and a social topic. Language patterns of all speakers were analyzing in their use of first personal pronouns, negative emotion words, motion words, and exclusive terms.
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    Politics-Free in the Sports World?: an Empirical Examination of the Social and Marketing Implications of Athlete Activism
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Park, Bumsoo; Billings, Andrew; Brown, Kenon; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Despite countless arguments pertaining to the desired separation of political elements from sports, the intersection of sports and politics can be found more visibly and frequently through athletes and their involvement in sociopolitical issues. Additionally, given the increasing number of athlete activism, notably coupled with recent Black Lives Matter movements as well as the critical social and marketing impacts of athletes, it is imperative to further delve into athlete activism. Thus, this dissertation examines (a) whether and how differently people perceive athlete activism, with a focus on the role of news media exposure and (b) the subsequent effects of athlete activism through a 2 (What: attitude-consistent vs. counter-attitudinal) x 2 (about Who: an in-group athlete vs. an out-group athlete) x 2 (How: selective vs. forced) experimental study. Based on various theoretical underpinnings, including media effects, selective exposure, and social identity theory, a total sample of 378 participants recruited from Amazon MTurk was empirically analyzed via statistical tests such as ANCOVA and regression. The results showed the significant moderating role of news media exposure (attitude consistency) in that there were attitude differences between participants in the attitude-consistent news report condition and participants in the counter-attitudinal news report condition. Additionally, this dissertation found that people’s political attitudes can be reinforced and polarized through attitude-consistent media consumption as participants’ attitudes became either more negative or more positive (depending on their prior attitudes) after exposure to the attitude-consistent news exposure. A strong positive relationship between attitude toward the protesting athlete and attitude toward the endorsed brand, along with the moderating role of the sponsorship decision was revealed, implying the importance of sponsorship decision when its sponsored athletes are involved in controversial issues. Lastly, this dissertation identified the positive relationship between athlete activism and political participation, supporting the idea that athletes have the power to change our society as well as showing the inextricable link between sports and politics.
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    Brushes with Stardom: Interpreting Interpersonal Interactions Between Athletes and Fans
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Hakim, Samuel David; Billings, Andrew C.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    This dissertation explored the impacts of interpersonal interactions between sports fans and famous sports figures (FSFs) and how these meaningful interactions may transform fan identity. A total of 531 participants participated in a mix method survey to address elements of fame, meaningfulness of an interpersonal engagement with a FSF, and relationships between fan identity and interpersonal variables including fanship, rapport, parasocial interaction, and fan identity to navigate the impact of a serendipitous interaction. Participants conceptually define fame, and a grounded theory approach was used to analyze responses. Results indicate that fans perceived fame as one of the following nine categories - (1) name recognition and general recognizability, (2) playing at the highest level of professional or college, (3) contribution and legacy to sports, (4) marketability, (5) FSF’s individual skills, accolades and accomplishments, (6) team association and affiliation, (7) community engagement, (8) media (social and traditional), (9) role model and pro-social characteristics. Results imply that current sports communication variables used to capture fame, may not accurately represent how fans are presently defining fame, and future research utilizing fame may benefit from a recalibration of how fame is measured. Participants recalled an experience when they met a FSF in-person coincidentally, and expressed elements of the interaction that made this unique engagement memorable and meaningful. Through a grounded theory approach, interactions with FSFs were categorized as meaningful in the following seven ways - (1) Memento, (2) Nonverbal Behaviors, (3) Surrealism, (4) Authenticity, (5) Affability, (6) Aspiration, and (7) FSF Disappointment. Each category defines how fans develop these memories and how they perceive them post-interaction. Last, participants distinguish interpersonal and sports fan significance through several sports and interpersonal measures. Results indicate that the interpersonal variables along with the sports fan centered variables had numerous significant positive relationships as well as described differences between fan identity levels. Results signify that interpersonal interactions with FSFs are impactful for many fans and fan identity values, and attitudes may shift in positive and negative directions based on brief moments shared. Theoretical contributions to sports and human communication are discussed with implications for future research on fan-athlete (FSF) communication.
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    Transition, Turbulence, and Relationship-Focused Coping During Pregnancy After Perinatal Loss
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Opayemi, Oluwadamilola; Pederson, Joshua R.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The findings of clinical studies reveal that the subsequent pregnancy after perinatal loss (PAL) is a stressful experience for parents. However, these studies have mainly focused on stressors related to the pregnancy itself. The dissertation study attempted to understand how couples experience the waiting period before conceiving after a perinatal loss and the timeframe of the subsequent pregnancy. Additionally, the goal of the current study was to address two existing gaps in perinatal loss research within the field of communication and relationship research. First, limited studies illustrate couples' resilience during the period after perinatal loss and subsequent pregnancy. The current study adopts Solomon and colleagues' (2016) Relational Turbulence Theory (RTT) and Coyne and Smith's (1991) Relationship-Focused Model (RFCM) as the theoretical frameworks to explore couples' perception of self, partner, and relationship during the waiting period and subsequent pregnancy. Second, extant research within the field has explored couples' experience of perinatal loss, emphasizing grief and bereavement of the pregnancy. Limited research exists on relationship functioning and maintenance as couples navigate the period after perinatal loss. Nelson and colleagues (2017) conceptualized the waiting period as the time after period loss when couples are ready for another pregnancy. Eight heterosexual married couples participated in the study. After an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith et al., 1999) of the data collected using individual and couple interviews, the findings of my study present how couples make sense of PAL as a transitional event, issues of relational turbulence and interdependence (Solomon et al., 2016) that characterized their experience. Given the tendency of PAL to create relationship strain and stress, the couples in my study adapted behaviors similar to active engagement and protective buffering (Coyne & Smith, 1991) to navigate this experience. Despite this study's success, the methodological limitation related to its homogenous sample includes the absence of participants involved in committed same-sex relationships and cohabiting couples. Nevertheless, the study presented five practical implications for professionals and individuals and are committed to helping couples navigate the period of PAL as well as several theoretical contributions to RTT and RFCM.
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    Bridging Self-Concept Maintenance and Truth-Default Theories
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Laningham, Andrew Jospeh; Griffin, Darrin J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The present research examines the effects of topic intensity, categorization, and the raising of attention to moral standards have on honesty in communication. This study sought to extend a theory of deception from behavioral economics, self-concept maintenance (Mazar et al., 2008), to the field of communication studies. Participants gave two extemporaneous speeches about their opinions on two social topics, one high-intensity and one low-intensity. Participants also completed a questionnaire in which they wrote about their speeches in an open-ended format and completed self-reported honesty measures. Half of the participants in the study received honesty reminders throughout the duration of the study. Analyses revealed that writing about a high-intensity topic significantly lowered the amount of self-references participants used, and significantly raised the amount of negative emotion present in their word choice as compared to writing about a low-intensity topic, which is an indication of deceit in communication. Writing about a high-intensity topic also lowered the amount of authenticity used in the word choice of participants. However, the intensity of the topic had no significant effect on the self-reported honesty scores of participants. Honesty reminders had no significant effect on the word choice of participants nor their self-reported honesty. The findings of this study provide insight into the effects of topic intensity and communication context on honesty and the self-concept of communicators, as well as reveal the extent to which the tenets of self-concept maintenance (Mazar et al., 2008) extend to communication. Limitations and future research are discussed.
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    A Public Health Emergency: Using the Cause Model to Understand Journalists' Implementation of Suicide Reporting Guidelines
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Eckhart, Nicholas; Parrott, Scott; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The present dissertation uses the framework of social cognitive theory’s environmental determinant to understand the World Health Organization’s suicide reporting guidelines implementation as a public health intervention. Reporting guidelines like these specifically influence the media environment, having a unique impact on readers who are at risk of death from suicide. Previous research has evaluated not only the effectiveness of these guidelines, but also journalist adherence and perceptions. However, to this date, little research exists regarding journalists in the United States. Therefore, the present study used the CAUSE model to evaluate where gaps exist in the current dissemination of suicide reporting guidelines and their subsequent use. Additionally, the hierarchy of influence was used to understand who within the organization would have the greatest impact on suicide reporting guideline adherence in the newsroom. To achieve this, forty journalism professionals from national and state-level news organizations were surveyed about their awareness, efficacy, use, and willingness to use suicide reporting guidelines. Findings suggest that (a) while many journalists were only somewhat familiar with suicide reporting guidelines, most felt they would be effective at reducing deaths from suicide, (b)they believed that they presently followed these guidelines, and (c) they would be willing to follow them in the future if office leadership supported their use and also used the guidelines in their own work. These results present a fascinating baseline for future research, and also starkly contradict findings in studies of journalism professionals in other countries.
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    Post-truth and rhetorical citizenship in the Philippines: campaigns against truth and how to fight back
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Tatcho, Orville; Ohl, Jessy; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The Oxford English Dictionary declared “post-truth” the 2016 Word of the Year, an adjective “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief” (McComiskey 5). Post-truth gained conceptual traction in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump in the United States and the exit of United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit). Both events were driven by disinformation campaigns in which raw emotions and unsubstantiated belief overwhelmed reason and rational deliberation. There is, however, a need to look at instantiations of post-truth beyond Western contexts and toward the Global South for a more holistic and rhetorically nuanced understanding of post-truth as a global epistemological issue. This dissertation is an intervention in this regard as I situate post-truth as a rhetorical strategy in contemporary political discourse in the Philippines. With such focus, this project decenters Western experiences in post-truth and argues that post-truth is a discursive construction with material and performative elements aimed at flooding democratic discourse and deliberation with political spin and weaponized rhetoric. Through three case studies that variably draw on Robert Scott’s rhetoric is epistemic thesis; Dana Cloud’s discursive strategies of affect, spectacle, embodiment, narrative, and myth; and Christian Kock and Lisa Villadsen’s conceptual frame of rhetorical citizenship, this dissertation aims to provide a productive criticism of the rhetoric of political figures and pundits in the Philippines by also theorizing paths of resistance against post-truth. The first case study concerns how incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte used post-truth in shaping perceptions on his “war on drugs.” The second case study looks into former First Lady Imelda Marcos as a post-truth icon whose narratives are countered in The Kingmaker documentary film. Finally, the third case study situates post-truth in the anti-intellectualism of Facebook pages maintained by Duterte’s propaganda machine. Each case study, structured according to James Martin’s method of rhetorical political analysis (RPA), is divided into three sections: rhetorical context, argument, and effect. As “truth” and “post-truth” are issues entwined in agency, this dissertation invites rhetorical citizenship as a corrective to post-truth.