TV viewing patterns, differential gain model, and social capital activities: Cross-sectional and cohort time use data

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


George Comstock


Viewing patterns, Differential gain, Social capital, Time use, Television

Subject Categories

Communication | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study re-tested Putnam's (2000) hypothesis on causal relationships among the decline of social capital, the advent of TV, and generational change using 24-hour time-use data from a national sample. Specifically, this study attempted to test: (1) whether behavioral patterns of TV viewing are related to individual's time spent on social capital activities, (2) whether TV viewing (both of news and prime time), newspaper reading, and interpersonal communication can predict both individually and interactively social capital activities, and (3) whether there have been longitudinal interactive trends between communication activities and social capital activities.

First, the behavioral TV viewing patterns--reflecting selectivity and involvement--were hypothesized to align with demographic variables and further to extrapolate over social capital activities. The ANCOVAs showed that the TV viewing patterns were significant enough to differentiate social capital activities: the more active TV viewing group was likely to be more active in social capital activities, while the more passive (Time Passing) TV viewing was the most detrimental to formal social capital.

Second, the hierarchical regression analyses showed: (1) time-deepening behavior positively predicted social capital activities, (2) TV news time viewing was not significant while primetime TV viewing was negatively significant for social capital activities, (3) newspaper reading had a solid positive effect on formal social capital activities, (4) interpersonal communication had no significant effect or even a significant negative effect on social capital activities, (5) newspaper reading compensated fall-behind groups in other communication variables, and (6) a combination of high TV news time viewing and high newspaper reading and a combination of high TV primetime and high TV news time only resulted in a displacement effect on social capital activities. Third, four cohort analyses showed that cohort trend of TV viewing has moved in a mirror-like opposite direction to newspaper reading and social capital activities.

The overall findings supported Putnam's contentions on the cohort trends of TV viewing, newspaper reading, and social capital activities. More importantly, the analyses displayed less trodden opportunities of utilizing time-use data in communication field, as time underlies the meaning of communication and social capital activities.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.