Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Hilt

Second Advisor

Dr. Marshall Prisbell

Third Advisor

Dr. Julien Lafontant


Cultivation theory suggests that television viewing influences beliefs and opinions about the real world. Also, framing theory suggests that the way we see an issue may be directly related to how media portray it. The recent pervasiveness of reality-television dating shows in prime time provides a sea of opportunities for gender communication research. The purpose here was to explore women's representations in a courtship context as depicted in ABC's The Bachelor to determine the presence of female stereotypes (RQl). Three groups of eliminated women were also compared to determine differences among them in terms of appearance and behavior (RQ2). In a mixed-methods content analysis, the women in the show were coded for general information and natural appearance (age; occupation; ethnicity; hair color, length and texture; and body type), superficial appearance (dress attire, hair style and makeup style) and behavioral traits (quiet v. loud, shy v. assertive, cold v. emotional, gentle v. strong, and unconcerned v. jealous). Major findings include the following: Most of the 25 women portrayed in The Bachelor were Caucasians; in their 20s; held professional jobs; had long, straight brown/black hair; and were considered to have an hourglass body type. They wore mostly moderately revealing to revealing clothes, displayed moderately well-groomed to well-groomed hair styles, and wore moderate makeup. Most women displayed moderately loud to loud communication characteristics, were assertive, were moderately emotional to emotional, and were rated moderate for the "gentle v. strong" attribute.. Approximately half of them were unconcerned and the other half displayed jealous behavior. The three groups of women eliminated in The Bachelor were not significantly different (Sig. > .05) on any of the items in the superficial appearance and behavioral traits categories. Because teenage girls often use the same behavior displayed by women when indicating interest in boys, and because The Bachelor calls itself a "reality-television" show - which studies have found may make viewers believe the portrayals reflect actual "reality" - the way The Bachelor is presenting women in dating contexts - from the revealing clothes they are wearing to the aggressiveness of their sexual behavior - could possibly influence teenagers who are exposed to the portrayals to replicate those same looks and attitudes.


A Thesis Presented to the School of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska at Omaha In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Communication University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2007 Glaucia Pereira Steckelberg.