Date of Award

6-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Propp

Second Advisor

Dr. Heather Addison

Third Advisor

Dr. Autumn Edwards

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

This study examined American college students’ perceptions of Africans. Knowledge Gap and Systems Theory were applied to creating and discussing the research questions. Systems Theory addresses processes and levels of information transfer (Westley & Maclean, 1965). It requires an understanding of the sources, channels, messages, and the people who receive information in a communication encounter. Knowledge Gap Theory, on the other hand, states that when information circulates in a system, gaps in knowledge are formed and these gaps increase as more information enters the system (Tichenor, Donohue, & Olien, 1970). The results showed that consumption of radio and newspaper news, engagement with international news, and contact with Africans in academic, social, and work environments influenced American college students’ perceptions about Africans.