American television programs have been criticized for being filled with images endorsing capitalist consumerism and for being weighted toward the upper middle classes. This study proposed that heavy viewing of these distorted representations may culminate in decreases in viewers' life satisfaction. A path model investigated this supposition, based on material value and social comparison perspectives. Surveys were administered to 225 adults in a northeastern town in the United States, and the data were subjected to path analysis. The findings of this study suggest that heavy television viewing may be associated with material value, estimates of other people's affluence, and perceived gaps between the self and others in material affluence. Of importance, the findings also suggest that the perceived gaps between the self and others may be associated both with dissatisfaction with personal life and dissatisfaction with current social equality, whereas material value may be associated only with dissatisfaction with personal life.
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