Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication


Journalism and Mass Communication

First Advisor

Michael Dahlstrom


Proponents of science literacy claim that the public needs more knowledge about science, and the field of entertainment education demonstrates that this learning can come through entertainment programming in addition to more informative media products. While studies have examined the effects of entertainment upon science learning in a short-term experimental context, what remains unexplored is why audiences choose to consume entertaining scientific content and how they interpret the embedded science information across long-term relationships with entertainment programming. This study fills this gap by using a uses and gratifications framework to explore why and how audiences select and interpret embedded science information within popular entertainment media.

This study interviewed 45 audience members who have chosen to view at least one full season of The Big Bang Theory to explore their reasons for doing so and how they interpret the science within the program. The Big Bang Theory is a good context in which to examine these questions because it is a popular television program about science and one in which the producers have publicly stated how they want the program to effect the audience. Results suggest that all participants watch the program for purposes of diversion, although other gratifications are present. Likewise, most participants do not consider that they have learned much science from the program; yet other statements suggest that they are learning science, but conceptualize it differently than how proponents of science literacy do. Other differences are discussed based on the participant’s pre-existing knowledge and interest in science.


Copyright Owner

Xi Yang



File Format


File Size

46 pages