Effects of Negative Media on Evangelical Christians' Attitudes Toward Evangelism

by Linda Hoover

Institution: Antioch University
Department: Antioch Santa Barbara: Clinical Psychology
Degree: Psy. D.
Year: 2015
Keywords: Mass Media; Religious Congregations; Social Research; Psychology; Media; Evangelical Christians; Social Norms; Ingroups; Prejudice; Religious hostility; Social Identity formation
Record ID: 2058313
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=antioch1429624111


This study examined how negative media influenced Evangelical Christians and their attitude toward evangelism practices. Using self-questionnaires, participants identified their level of in-group identification and type of internalized motivation for engaging in religious practices. After viewing a negative media clip about the professional football player, Tim Tebow, and his public expression of faith, 412 Evangelical Christians rated their fear of negative evaluation about engaging in evangelism. A control group of 31 participants completed questionnaires but received no media exposure. Consistent with previous research, the current study found that media exposure activated internalized social norms and feelings of oughtness, which were shown to be statistically significant predictors of anxiety as measured by BFNE-II scores. Internalization types were not found to be significant predictors for control group scores. Although 82% of Evangelical Christians highly identified with their in-group and 72% endorsed voluntary participation in evangelism practices, 59% of all participants registered clinically significant anxiety about evangelism regardless of exposure to negative media. Evangelism anxiety appeared be influenced by a sense of moral duty (Johnston, 2003), feelings of oughtness (Lindenberg et al., 2011), the risk of interpersonal rejection (Ingram, 1989), and fear of prejudicial treatment (Bobkowski & Kalyanaraman, 2010). Results indicated exposure to negative media activated obligatory expectations for conformity with evangelism practices. The electronic version of the dissertation is accessible at the Ohiolink ETD center http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd.