National identity and media system dependency in Belize

  • National identity and media system dependency in Belize

by Larry Elliott.


This research, based on media dependency theory, examined associations between media exposure–dependency and feelings of national identity among young people in Belize, Central America. The researcher used a cross-sectional survey design to collect data from 424 students at six secondary schools. The survey measured exposure to and dependency on television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and interpersonal sources of information, Belize was chosen to test relationships between media and national identity because national independence and satellite-delivered U.S. television arrived almost simultaneously in 1981. The former British colony, where English is the official language, had no television industry at the time. The survey sample represented the first “television generation” in Belize.


Survey participants reported watching about four hours of U.S. television daily, but data analysis found no significant correlations between their television exposure and feelings of national identity.


Correlation analysis found a significant association between exposure to Belize magazines and national identity as measured on a 13-item “national identity index.” Those with higher exposure to magazines published in Belize also were more likely to report stronger feelings of Belizean national identity.


Correlation analysis indicated a statistically significant positive relationship between strength of national identity and frequency of contact with friends or relatives living outside Belize. Those most likely to hear from people in other countries were most likely to evaluate Belize more positively, perhaps because interpersonal sources passed along news that made Belize look good by comparison.


A multiple regression model predicting strength of national identity feelings indicated that a survey participant’s positive comparison of life in Belize with life in the United States was the most likely predictor of a strong national identity. The survey results indicate that exposure to some media and interpersonal information sources correlated with feelings of national identity in Belize.


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Elliott, L. S. (1995). National identity and media system dependency in Belize. University of Florida. Retrieved from:

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