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The purpose of this paper is to understand how frequently are certain TV shows watched and what are the variables influencing the outcome. The survey will help us see if there are any key independent variables that influence the individuals’ TV watching habits. Every generation sees the flaws in the new generation and for the current generation, it has been argued that people watch too much television, especially those without education. It also often argued that educated people watch more intellectual shows than the uneducated. This project will allow us to see whether education plays a major role in people’s choices regarding TV. This project will also help us to see whether race or marriage status plays a role in one’s TV time choices. The project is interesting because it can show whether the general public is correct in assuming that education, age and marriage status are significant variables when it comes to TV show preferences.

Data Collection

The five dependent variables are: 1. The number of hours spent on watching of cartoons. 2. The number of hours spent on watching of educational programming. 3. The amount of hours spent on watching of reality shows. 4. The number of hours spent on watching of sports. 5. The genre of most watched TV show.  For the questions asking to measure the number of hours they spend watching reality shows, the participants had the following five choices: 0-1; 2-3; 4-5; 5-6; 7+. The scales were broader for the 2 & 3 dependent variables. The question “How often per week do you watch educational programming?” had the following five choices: Never; 1-2; 3-4; 5-6; More than six. The question “How often per week are you watching reality television?” followed the same attributes as the 2nd question. The question “Generally, how many hours of per week do you watch sports?”  allowed the participants the following five choices: Less than 1; 1-2; 3-4; 5-6, 7+. And, lastly, the question pertaining to the most watched TV show included the next 5 choices: Sports; Reality Television; Sitcoms; News, Other (with “other” not being specified).                                                          

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Meanwhile the independent variables considered in the research project were:  Age, Marital Status, Education Level and Race. Question 1 stated “How old are you?” and could have been answered from the following 5 choices: 1-12; 13-19; 20-30, 31-50, 51+. Question 2 asked about the participants’ marital status and offered the following answer choices: Married; Divorced; Separated; Single; Widowed. The question about the race had the following answer choices: White, non-Hispanic; African-American; Hispanic; Asian-Pacific Islander; Native American. The next question asked the participants’ level of education and had the following answer choices: Less than high school; High School/GED; Some College; 2 or 4 year College Degree; Masters/PhD/Professional Degree. 

Variables are called independent and dependent because they are interconnected. The process resembles a function in which a variable x (an independent variable) is inputted to yield a variable y (a dependent variable). The relationship between these two concepts can also be understood in terms of a cause and effect relationship. Independent variables cause dependent variables to be. The current study is a cross-sectional one since the experiment is done once at a specific point in time. It would have been interesting to do a longitudinal study to observe how the participants’ responses would change over a period of time.

Results

The following were the results amongst the questions pertaining to the dependent variables. For the 1st Q on the number of hours spending watching a cartoon the most popular answer was 1-2 (70%), and the least popular answer was 2-3 (30%). The rest of the answer choices received 0 votes. The answers for the 2nd Q asking about the number of hours spent on educational programming watching were 1-2 hours (60%) and 5-6 hours (10%). The Q on the amount of hours spent on reality shows had “Never” (50%) as its most popular answer and 3-4 hours (10%) as its least popular answer. For the Q on the number of hours of sports watched had, >1(50%) was the most popular answer and 7+ (10%) was the least popular answer. And lastly, the most watched genre were sports and sitcoms tied at 40%. While the least watched were “other” with 20% of the votes; news and reality shows received no votes at all.

Amongst the independent variables, the results were as follows: 90% of the participants were 20-30 years old and 10% were 31-50 years old. 70% of the participants had some college education and 30% had 4 year university education. 60% of them were single and only 10% were divorced. 40% of survey takers were Hispanic. African-American, Asian-Pacific Islander and Native American each 10% of the test takers.

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Discussion

The results tell us that none of the independent variables discussed have a significant impact on the participants’ choices regarding their TV show preferences. It seems that the least popular shows were the reality shows because 50% of the respondents said that they never watch reality shows and the most time people claimed to be watching reality shows was 3-4 hours, which compared to the  number of hours spend on watching other TV shows is not much. The marital status also seems to have no effect on the dependent variables. Answers amongst married and single people were not considerably different. It also does not seem that education was an important variable in the participants’ choices, and the race did not show a significant influence on the results either.  Unfortunately, the results are not indicative of any correlation between independent and dependent variables observed during this research project.

The survey itself has multiple flows resulting in inconclusive research. First of all, the sample is not representative and diverse enough to qualify for a comprehensive study. The sample includes participants only with some college and 4 year university students. The difference between these two groups is a very small, making it difficult to compare them. It would have been more helpful, for our purposes, to have participants with high school education and PhD holders along with the college students. The age variable also cannot be accounted for, because 90% of the participants were between ages of 20-30. It would have been more helpful if the age gaps were smaller (i.e. 20-22, 23-25 etc…) and more diverse. Another major problem with the survey is in its nature. Participants report on their own actions which can cause skewed results. For example, most people know that it is more respectable to watch educational programs than the reality shows. Hence, when reporting the hours they spend watching each of these categories, they might be more inclined to report higher hours for education programs and lower hours for reality television. If I could have the chance to redo the survey, I would consider all of the above mentioned issues. I would also consider changing some of my independent variables. After conducting the survey, I realize that marital status and the days when each participant watches TV the most are not relevant. I would substitute these questions with the following ones:

  1. How many people live in your household?
  2. How many TV sets are there in your household?

I believe these two questions are more relevant to the study as they will be more indicative of what influences people’s TV show choices. The most imperative lesson that I have learned from this project is the importance of careful consideration of the variables used in the study. It is also valuable to hypothesize the correlation between the variables before the study in order to appreciate the significance of a diverse participant pool. 

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