Date of Award

Fall 2006

Project Type


Program or Major

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Andrew E Smith


This research gives insight to why some Americans have negative attitudes toward people on welfare. This study begins by exploring how the construct of race has manifested itself throughout televised news broadcasts and the welfare system in the United States.

This research uses a combination of content analysis, secondary research and American National Election Survey Data analysis to explain the relationship between the media and support for welfare programs. The study investigates three main hypotheses: H1: Blacks are overrepresented as perpetrators of crime in televised news broadcasts compared to the actual number of crimes committed by Blacks, H2: As trust in the media increases, favorable attitudes toward people on welfare decrease, H3: As negative attitudes toward Blacks and Hispanics increase, favorable attitudes toward people on welfare decrease. The research found that when the proportion of Blacks shown on television as perpetrators of crime is compared to the proportion of Blacks who actually commit crimes, television is representative of reality. However, television generally distorts the proportion of crime to focus on violent crime when, in reality, most crime is nonviolent. The relationship between trust in the media and attitudes toward people on welfare was found to be significant, but in the opposite direction than hypothesized. In addition, significant relationships in the hypothesized direction were found to exist between both attitudes toward Blacks and attitudes toward people on welfare and attitudes toward Hispanics and attitudes toward people on welfare. A regression model suggested that attitudes toward Blacks have more predictive power on attitudes toward people on welfare than either trust in the media or attitudes toward Hispanics.