Title page for ETD etd-1104103-113636

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Deshotel, Kelly Thompson Losch
Author's Email Address klosch1@lsu.edu
URN etd-1104103-113636
Title Behind the Scenes: Uncovering the Structures and Manipulations of Tabloid Talk Show Workers, Guests and Audiences
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David Kurpius Committee Chair
Lori Boyer Committee Member
Ronald Garay Committee Member
  • social comparison theory
  • cultivation theory
  • social learning theory
Date of Defense 2003-11-03
Availability unrestricted
How talk show workers, guests and audiences behave behind-the-scenes is largely a mystery to the public. This research focuses on the behind-the-scenes workings of a daytime syndicated talk show to better understand the motivations of talk show guests and how talk show workers manipulate guests and audiences. While researchers have conducted studies of talk show guests using formal interviews and questionnaires, no researchers have posed as covert observers to study talk shows.

The researcher conducted participant observation to study the behaviors of those involved with the on and offstage talk show structure. The researcher interned for the show without revealing she was conducting a study. She anticipated the workers', guests' and audiences' behaviors would not be affected by her presence. The researcher was able to participate in the talk show environment, ultimately being accepted by those under study.

This study found that talk show workers manipulate guests and audiences to engage in onstage behavior that potentially increases ratings. This research also determined additional reasons why guests appear on talk shows. Due to those under study perceiving the researcher as an intern, they behaved as if she was a natural part of the environment, not an observer recording their actions.

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