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Research Proposal On A Descriptive Study On The Effects Of Different Values Embedded In Chinese And American TV Programs To Chinese Youth

A Descriptive Study on the Effects of Different Values Embedded

in Chinese and American TV Programs to Chinese Youth:


            This paper discusses in detail the research proposal on the different values seen in Chinese and American TV programs. In particular, the research will focus on determining the embedded values in Chinese and American TV programs and how they affect those who watch these programs. In this research proposal, the background, context and theme of the study are presented. Moreover, the objectives of the study and the research statements are formulated. Here, vital concepts, questions and assumptions are stated. Finally, the scope and limitation of the study, methodology to be used and the significance of the research are discussed.

1.0. Introduction

1.1. Background of the Study

China has experienced rapid economic growth during the past two decades, more than any other large country. To compete for the attention and buying power of its growing number of middle-class consumers, foreign and local companies are increasing their advertising as well as television expenditures in China (Song and Wong 1998). According to Hong (1998), major transnational television programmers have poured into Asia with a particular interest in China's potentially huge market. With this, many U.S. and Western European broadcasting companies are fast exploiting the newly discovered consuming power of China (Ma, 1997). Moreover, transnational companies based in the United States continue to expand their markets in China, with its one billion plus population; China has become a coveted market (Lin, 2001).

Since the 1970s, a number of studies have investigated the impact of U.S. television programs on foreign audience. As Ware and Dupagne (1994) remark, these studies can be classified into six categories: perceptions of America/Americans; preference for American goods; attitudes towards own culture/lifestyle; attitudes towards America; perceptions of own country; and desire to emigrate.

Among these studies, the cultivation theory is one of the mostly used theoretical bases (Kwong, 1997). As developed by Gerbner (1990), cultivation analysis assumes that heavy exposure to television entertainment cultivates conceptions which reflect television's most stable and repetitive portrayals (Kwong, 1997).

According to Gerbner (1990), mass media influence people's view of reality. If the mass media and the receivers come from different cultures, the influence may be different. International cultivation analysis is conducted as researchers notice that U.S. programs present values, life-styles, and ideologies that are contradictory to the culture of the countries where U.S. programs are imported (Kwong, 1997).

This influence is evident in China. The introduction of satellite broadcasting has severe implications in the cultural norms within the Chinese community. In particular, Chinese youth displayed changes not only in their preferences on television shows but also in their cultural choices and preferences, leaning towards American shows rather than domestic programs (Ma, 1997).

The “Westernization” is most profound on Chinese youth because of their boundless exposure to different media particularly satellite broadcasting (McIntyre, Zhang & Tin, 2003; Xiaoming, 2000). This trend suggests that the protectionism imposed by Chinese traditions is radically penetrated by American TV programs. As a result, Chinese youth has been veering away from the traditional Chinese culture.

During the 1990s television audiences have become increasingly harder to hold onto, the taste of Chinese youth is more sophisticated and they are more selective about leisure-time activities (Hong, 1998). Because of the opening of television program importation, Chinese youth have opportunities to watch programs of different themes and styles. With the access to a variety of choices provided by both domestic television services and foreign television services, viewers are no longer as loyal as they were to their own country's programmers.

Substantial scholarship has focused on the relationship between the media and cultural values. For some, the goal has been to illuminate the ways in which particular media messages reinforce and propagate existing cultural values (Carbaugh, 1988). For others the primary interest has been in the ways in which the media may operate as a threat to existing cultural values. Many critical scholars claim that foreign media play a significant role in changing indigenous value systems and cultures.

            Research examining media effects in China is unusual because China limited communication with most of the world for about 30 years. Even after China normalized its economic and political relations with other countries in the late 1970s, foreign media penetration was minimal and the sources were limited to some socialist countries (Wang & Chang, 1996). With the recent development of China's open-door policy, the volume of imported television has increased along with the diversity of program categories and national sources.

However, research shows that these policies may not have been very effective in terms of preserving traditional values. Pan and Wei (1997), in their examination of value change in China in relation to media exposure, found that exposure to imported films and television programs was related to "reduced concern for fulfilling one's family responsibilities, a greater desire for free choice in mate selection, and higher degree of hedonism" (p. 15).

Chinese television programming mirrors the current socio-economic reforms and demonstrates current Chinese people's desires, struggles, and expectations in the process of economic reform. Domestically produced media also reflect the increasing competition from imported media, which has resulted in the increasing presence of nontraditional themes in Chinese-produced programming (Zhao, 1999). This trend is exacerbated by the recent liberalization in China. For example, Zhang and Harwood (2001) examined value themes in Chinese television commercials using content analysis procedures. They found that several modern value themes (modernity/technology, beauty/youth, and enjoyment/pleasure) were used frequently in Chinese television advertising (Cheng & Schweitzer, 1996) in addition to the traditional. After examining and analyzing current television programming in modern China, Zhao (1999) argues that Chinese television programming has been pushed by market competition, and that consumerism and hedonism are the prevalent themes.

Television is not simply an entertainment medium as it has the ability to communicate the norms, rules, and values of a society (Harwood & Zhang, 2002). Gerbner et al. (1986) state that the major social function of television is defining the world, legitimizing social order, and cultivating cultural values. Likewise, Ball-Rokeach and DeFleur (1990) consider that mass communication is an important part in creating the conditions for development of values and value priorities.

1.2. Researcher’s Point of View

With these considerations, I find it necessary to investigate how values are embedded in Chinese and American TV programs. Particularly, I am interested in determining who identifies with the values in Chinese and American TV programs, respectively.  Moreover, I find it important to examine how viewers perceive these values and how their perceptions affect them in relation to their cultural values. With the proliferation of American TV programs, I think it is inevitable for Chinese people’s cultural values to be affected. Therefore, the research will explore the relationship between exposure to Chinese and US TV programs and the conceptions of traditional values among the Chinese youth in China.

2.0. Research Statement

2.1. General Purpose of the Study

Generally, the purpose of the research is to conduct a descriptive study on the different values embedded in Chinese and American TV programs. The research will specifically seek to identify the effects of these programs on Chinese youth. 

2.2. Research Questions

To support the aforementioned fundamental purpose, the research will specifically attempt to answer the following questions:

1.    What are the dominant values present in Chinese TV programs?

2.    What are the dominant values present in American TV programs?

3.    What are the perceptions of Chinese youth to the values shown in Chinese TV programs?

4.    What are the perceptions of Chinese youth to the values shown in American TV programs?

5.    How are Chinese youth affected by Chinese TV programs in terms of cultural values.

6.    How are Chinese youth affected by American TV programs in terms of cultural values?

2.3. Vital Concepts

The project will consider the following concepts significant to the development of the study:

1.         Gerbner (1990) states that the Cultivation Theory is one of the most important and widely applied theories addressing the effects of media on beliefs and values, adding that "cultivation means the specific independent contribution that a particularly consistent and compelling symbolic stream makes to the complex process of socialization and enculturation" (249). Moreover, according to Zaharapolous (1997), "the cultivation hypothesis states that the more television people watch, the more likely they are to hold a view of reality that is closer to television's depiction of reality"  (31).

2. Chinese youth are less culture and are more open to Western lifestyles and accompanying products (McNeal & Ji, 1999). An important reason Chinese youth attract attention from Western marketers is because Chinese consumers in general, and Chinese youth in particular, have aspirations for Western lifestyles (Ha 1996). Further, McIntyre, Zhang and Tin (2003) argued that youths and adolescents are still in the process of finding meaning thus, they are more open to anything new. Hence, the advent of American shows and programs and their habitual exposure to such shows may precipitate the evolution of their cultural orientation.

3. According to Pan and Wei (1997) conclude that Western, particularly American media eroded traditional Confucian values and increased the salience of individualistic values. Since TV programs are reflections of social, cultural, and political ideologies in general, American TV programs may introduce different life styles and goals to Chinese viewers.

2.4. Assumptions

Based on the research questions and the above basic concepts, the research project will work out on the following assumptions:

1.    The dominant values present in Chinese TV programs are geared towards preservation of Chinese tradition, 

2.    The dominant values present in American TV programs are geared towards modernity and liberalization.

3.    Watching Chinese TV programs makes Chinese youth appreciate their cultural values more than American values.

4.    Chinese youth still values Chinese traditional culture despite the proliferation of American TV programs.

3.0. Overall Project Aim

            The project primarily aims to explore how Chinese youth are affected by Chinese and American TV programs with regard to cultural values by examining the values content in both programs.

4.0. Objectives

            To carry out the overall aim, the following aims will be realized:

1.    I will assess and evaluate the values embedded in Chinese TV programs and American TV programs.

2.    Then, I will review the available literature pertaining to Chinese and American culture, Chinese and American TV industry, values embedded in Chinese and American TV programs, and how they affect Chinese youth.

3.    Consequently, I will identify main issues and problems based on the literature review and on the assessment and evaluation of the values found in Chinese and American TV programs.

4.    Moreover, to come up with pertinent findings, I will conduct a survey and interview on the impact of Chinese and American TV programs to Chinese youth.

5.    Finally, based on the results of the primary and secondary data, I will generate insightful conclusions and provide significant recommendations.

5.0. Methodology

5.1. Outline of the Methodology

1. Assessment and evaluation of the values embedded in Chinese and American TV programs

a.    I will conduct a consensus among my peers to determine what values are found in Chinese and American TV programs.

b.    I will then synthesize the outcome of the consensus.

c.    Afterwards, I will gather data from the local Chinese stations and the American Satellite Broadcasting pertaining to their programs.

d.    Finally, I will collate all the results and make a summary.

2. Reviewing the literature.

a.    I will gather all relevant literature from libraries and the Internet.

b.    I will organize the literature according to topic.

c.    I will identify the headings and subheadings.

d.    I will cite references.

e.    I will synthesize the literature.

f.     I will identify issues and problems to be addressed in the research.

3. Conducting a survey on customer satisfaction

a.    I will identify the general population for the survey.

b.    Then, I will design the instrument (survey-questionnaire)

c.    Afterwards, I will validate the instrument.

d.    After the validation, I will present the instrument to the supervisor for approval.

e.    I will administer the instrument.

f.     Finally, with the help of a statistician, I will make the statistical analysis.

2.    Analysis of the results.

a.    I will conduct a preliminary analysis of the results of the survey and interview.

b.    Then the supervisor will check the preliminary analysis.

c.    Afterwards, I will conduct detailed analysis of the results.

3.    Presentation of findings and recommendations.

a.    I will review the findings.

b.    I will draft project for submission.

5.2. Method of Research Used

For this study, descriptive research method will be utilized. In this method, it is possible that the study would be cheap and quick. It could also suggest unanticipated hypotheses. Nonetheless, it would be very hard to rule out alternative explanations and especially infer causations. Thus, this study will use the descriptive approach. This descriptive type of research utilizes observations in the study.  To illustrate the descriptive type of research, Creswell (1994) states that the descriptive method of research is to gather information about the present existing condition. 

The purpose of employing this method is to describe the nature of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study and to explore the cause/s of particular phenomena. I opt to use this kind of research considering my desire to obtain first hand data from the respondents so as to formulate rational and sound conclusions and recommendations for the study.

To come up with pertinent findings and to provide credible recommendations, this study will utilize two sources of research: primary and secondary. The primary research data will be obtained through this new research study; questionnaire survey and in-depth interview will be conducted. On the other hand, the secondary research data will be obtained from previous studies on the same topic. 

This research will base its findings partially through quantitative research methods because this permitted a flexible and iterative approach. During data gathering the choice and design of methods will be constantly modified, based on ongoing analysis. This will allow for the investigation of important new issues about changes in values and questions as they arose, and will allow me to drop unproductive areas of research from the original research plan.

This study will also employ qualitative research method because it will intend to find and build theories that will explain the relationship of one variable with another variable through qualitative elements in research. Through this method, qualitative elements that do not have standard measures such as the respondents’ behavior, attitudes, opinions, will be analysed. 

Furthermore qualitative research is multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Accordingly, qualitative researchers deploy a wide range of interconnected methods, hoping always to get a better fix on the subject matter at hand.

For this research design, I will gather data, collate published studies from different local and foreign universities and articles from books and journals; and will make a content analysis of the collected documentary and verbal material. Afterwards, I will summarize all the information, make a conclusion based on the hypotheses posited and provide insightful recommendations.

5.3. Profile of Respondents

A target sample of 100 households will be studied, composed of 20 households in each of five major satellite program receivable districts in Chengdu. Through this, each of the districts will be equally represented in the study. A youth, who regularly watches Chinese and American TV programs, from each of the households will be the general population. These youth belong to the 15-18 age group, and are studying.  For this study, gender, religion, economic status will be regarded as well. I think these factors affect values contribute to the Chinese youth’s perceptions on the values presented in Chinese and American TV programs.

A household study will be conducted because it provides an opportunity for me to speak to the respondents in the “natural” setting in which they make use of the audiovisual products and satellite broadcasting services to which they have access, and because the household as a site for this kind of predominantly qualitative research has become so thoroughly theorized in the literature. Moreover, the sampling will be purposive since the research had specifically asserted that only 15-18 year-old students will be included. A total of 100 households will be included since it is representative of the sample population without consuming too much time in interviewing given the timeframe for the research.

5.4. Validation and Administration of the Instrument

The data collection instrument will be a structured questionnaire that will be based on Likert scale. A Likert Scale is a rating scale that requires the subject to indicate his or her degree of agreement or disagreement with a statement. By rating scale we mean the scales that are usually used to measure attitudes towards an object, the degree to which an object contains a particular attribute, (Like or dislike), toward some attribute, or the importance attached to an attribute. The equivalent weights for the answers will be:

Range                                                Interpretation

      4.50 – 5.00                                        Strongly Agree

3.50 – 4.00                                        Agree

2.50 – 3.49                                        Uncertain

1.50 – 2.49                                        Disagree         

0.00 – 1.49                                        Strongly Disagree


The use of the questionnaire will provide me the ability to test the views and attitudes of the respondents. The distribution and collation methods that will be used to manage the questionnaire process will ensure anonymity.

For validation purposes, the researcher will initially submit a sample of the set of survey questionnaires for approval; the survey will be initially conducted to five respondents.  After the questions are answered, I will ask the respondents for any suggestions or any necessary corrections to ensure further improvement and validity of the instrument.  The researcher will again examine the content of the survey questions/statements to find out the reliability of the instrument. Afterwards, I will exclude irrelevant questions and changed words that would be deemed difficult by the respondents, to much simpler terms. The researcher will exclude the five respondents who will be initially used for the validation of the instrument.  The researcher will tally, score and tabulate all the responses in the provided questionnaire.

For the interview part, open-ended questions will be used to obtain as much information as possible about how the interviewee feels about the research topic.  Interviews will take a maximum of 30 minutes. The questions will be based on the research questions for this project; the research supervisor will review, refine and approve the questions. I will design a semi-structured interview. Here, I will encourage the interviewee to clarify vague statements and to further elaborate on brief comments. I will not share my own beliefs and opinions.

I think it is important to consider several problems that might be encountered during the research process. I fear that respondents may not take the survey-questionnaire seriously, as some of them might have no time in answering. Moreover, I feel that the survey might be limited by lack of time.


6.0. Project Time Plan 


Ball-Rokeach, S., & DeFleur, M. (1990). Theories of communication (5th ed.). New York: Longman.


Carbaugh, D. A. (1988). Talking American: Cultural discourse on Donahue. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.


Cheng, H., & Schweitzer, J. C. (1996). Cultural values reflected in Chinese and U.S. television commercials. Journal of Advertising Research, 36, 27-45.


Gerbner, G. (1990). Epilogue: Advancing on the path of righteousness. In N. Signorielli & M. Morgan (Eds.), Cultivation analysis (pp. 249-266). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.


Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1986). Living with television: The dynamics of the cultivation process. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Perspectives on media effects (pp. 17-40). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


Ha, L. (1996), "Concerns about Advertising Practices in a Developing Country: An Examination of China's New Advertising Regulations," International Journal of Advertising, 15 (2), 91-102.


Hong, J. (1998) The Internationalization of Television in China: The Evolution of Ideology, Society, and Media since the Reform. Praeger Publishers.

Kwong, K. F. (1997) Cultural impact of U.S. television programs on Chinese youth in Hong Kong. Available at []. Accessed [07/10/03]

Lin, C. A. (2001) Cultural values reflected in Chinese and American television advertising. Journal of Advertising, Vol. 30.


Ma, Y. (1997) Interview with Ma, senior official of China's Ministry of Radio, Film, and Television.


McIntyre, B., Zhang, W. and Tin, S. (2003)

Western Mass Media Exposure and Chinese Cultural Values:  The Case of Hong Kong. Paper submitted 16 January 2003 for presentation at the Second Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences, 12-15 June 2003, Honolulu, HI.


Pan, Z. D., & Wei, R. (1997). After diversity of media content: Media exposure and cultural values, Journalism and Communication Research, 4, 38-51.


Song, T. B. and Wong, L. (1998), Getting the Word Out. China Business Review, 25 (5), 22-25.

Wang, J., & Chang, T. K. (1996). From class ideology to state manager: TV programming and foreign imports in China, 1970-1990. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 40, 196-207.

Ware, W. and Dupagne, M. (1994). Effects of U.S. television programs on foreign audiences: A meta-analysis. Journalism Quarterly, 71, 947-959.

Xiaoming, H. (April 2000) Party Dominance vs. Cultural Imperialism: China's Strategies to Regulate Satellite Broadcasting. Communication Law and Policy. Vol. 5, No. 2: 155-182(28).


Zaharopoulos, T. (1997). U.S. television and American cultural stereotypes in Greece. World Communication, 26, 30-45.


Zhang, Y. B., & Harwood, J. (2001). Cultural values in Chinese television commercials. Unpublished manuscript, University of Kansas.


Zhao, B. (1999). Mouthpiece or money-spinner? The double life of Chinese television in the late 1990s. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2, 291-305.




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