Making movies that matter : how documentary films persuade viewers' beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This exploratory triangulated study attempts to better explain how two current social issue documentaries, FLOW: For the Love of Water and Food Fight, use persuasion and how viewers react utilizing textual analyses and focus groups. Specifically, the two films were analyzed for three persuasive appeals including informational appeals, emotional appeals, and fear appeals. A total of 25 participants attended four focus groups (two per film) and were given pre- and post-film viewing questionnaires to gauge gratifications sought and obtained from documentary films. Participants then discussed how the films affected beliefs, attitudes, and potential behaviors. The results of this study show that the two films were very different in persuasive appeals although participants from both films reported information as the main gratification sought from documentary films and many participants reported obtaining most of the gratifications from the films. Both films were successful in the persuasion of some beliefs, attitudes, and potential behaviors. Despite this, these two documentaries could have been more effective in influencing behaviors had certain issues been addressed. Implications and future research are discussed.
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