Sports Media as Empathy Facilitator: The Contrasting Influence of Paralympic and Olympic Content

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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  • 1 Department of Journalism and Creative Media, College of Communication and Information Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA
  • | 2 Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communication, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA
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The number of people accessing the Paralympic Games is growing at a time when few television ratings rise, warranting study of the influence that exposure to Paralympic media has on viewers. This study contrasts two forms (Olympic, Paralympic) of exposure to sport competition while testing other potential moderating factors, including personal experiences with persons with disabilities, trait and state empathy, and attitude toward disability. An online experiment with a national sample of 411 subjects reveals further variables that influence empathy for Paralympic athletes and potentially contribute to stigma reduction. The most holistic finding uncovered was that personal experience with a disability was the biggest predictor of everything else. Experience with disability also served as a key moderator or media exposure.

Bissell (kbissell@ua.edu) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0090-1581

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