Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

Communication, Media and Theatre Arts

Committee Member

Tsai-Shan Shen, Ph.D, Chair

Committee Member

Dennis Patrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael Tew, Ph.D.


Horror films portray female characters as sexual, helpless victims. When horror films attempt to portray female characters as the hero, this sends a message to audiences that women can be strong and independent. An experiment was conducted to test an audience's perceptions gender stereotypes of women in the horror film, Scream. Results indicate that stereotypes present in the horror film effected the participants' perception of women as competent heroes. Female participants were also more likely to perceive women as more competent than male participants. Then, from a qualitative standpoint, five individuals were interviewed about their perceptions of characters in their favorite films. These interviews helped give insight into why audiences continue to enjoy films even though mainstream films tend to overly exaggerate female stereotypes in most genres of film.ree