Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Shawn Utsey, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Zewelanji N Serpell, Ph.D.


Relational aggression, behaviors that manipulate social relationships, is a pressing issue among Black college women (Dahlen, Czar, Prather, & Dyess, 2013). As a result of experiencing and using relational aggression, Black women may experience diminished interpersonal interactions and poorer overall psychological well-being (Gomes, Davis, Baker, & Servonsky, 2009). The present study examined how Black reality television (BRTV) models relationally aggressive behaviors for viewers. According to Cultivation theory, television has the power to influence the social reality (i.e. attitudes and perceptions) of individuals who consume high amounts of television (Gerbner et al, 2002), while Identification theory suggests that deep cognitive and emotional connection with a media character can lead to imitation (Cohen, 2001). Data was gathered from 93 Black college women through a survey measuring relational aggression, BRTV television consumption and media identification. Participants were randomly assigned a BRTV viewing condition (a non –aggressive BRTV or aggressive BRTV). Results indicated that aggressiveness of the BRTV program and continued exposure to BRTV did not significantly increase relational aggression over time. In contrast, relational aggression was found to significantly decrease across both viewing conditions. Regression analyses revealed that identification did not significantly mediate the relationship between continued exposure to BRTV and relational aggression. Implications and recommendations for future research on relational aggression among Black women were also examined.


© Ashley Hill

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