ERIC Number: ED383010
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Relationship-Enhancing Communication Skills in Prime-Time Family-Oriented Situation Comedies.
Aust, Charles F.
Television situation comedies have been criticized for their portrayal of dysfunctional family behavior. An exploratory content analysis study assessed the extent of relationship-enhancing communication skills in family-oriented, prime-time situation comedies, a genre frequently targeted for both scorn and praise. Three episodes each of five shows at the top of the Nielsen ratings of fall 1990 ("The Cosby Show,""Major Dad,""Roseanne,""The Simpsons," and "Who's the Boss?") were analyzed for nine communication skills: courtesy, self-disclosure, affection, active listening, spending special time together, praise, setting limits, problem-solving, and teaching a skill or promoting insight. Findings showed that relationship-enhancing communication skills were significantly evident, with 1,169 instances portrayed in the 15 episodes analyzed. More than half of them consisted of courtesy and self-disclosure, with courtesy being the most frequently observed skill (312 times, or 26.7%), followed closely by self-disclosure (297 times or 25.4%). Affection was expressed 154 times (13.2%). While "The Cosby Show" was the leader in portraying courtesy and affection, each program was a leader in portraying at least one relationship-enhancing skill. Children were portrayed using the skills, but less often than adults, except when spending special time together. Findings showed that these pro-social communication behaviors are evident in programs that have been sharply criticized as deleterious to viewers, such as "Roseanne" and "The Simpsons," as well as in programs garnering high praise, such as "The Cosby Show." (Contains one table of data and 31 notes.) (SR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Meeting of the Southeastern Council on Family Relations/Alabama Council on Family Relations (Mobile, AL, March 25-27, 1992). For a related study, see ED 321 330.