Examples of Content Analysis
Adams, W., & Shriebman, F. (1978). Television network news: Issues in content research. Washington, DC: George Washington University Press.
A fairly comprehensive application of content analysis to the field of television news reporting. The books tripartite division discusses current trends and problems with news criticism from a content analysis perspective, four different content analysis studies of news media, and makes recommendations for future research in the area. Worth a look by anyone interested in mass communication research.
Auter, P. J., & Moore, R. L. (1993). Buying from a friend: a content analysis of two teleshopping programs. Journalism Quarterly, 70(2), 425-437.
A preliminary study was conducted to content-analyze random samples of two teleshopping programs, using a measure of content interactivity and a locus of control message index.
Barker, S. P. (???) Fame: A content analysis study of the American film biography. Ohio State University. Thesis.
Barker examined thirty Oscar-nominated films dating from 1929 to 1979 using O.J. Harvey Belief System and the Kohlberg’s Moral Stages to determine whether cinema heroes were positive role models for fame and success or morally ambiguous celebrities. Content analysis was successful in determining several trends relative to the frequency and portrayal of women in film, the generally high ethical character of the protagonists, and the dogmatic, close-minded nature of film antagonists.
Bernstein, J. M. & Lacy, S. (1992). Contextual coverage of government by local television news. Journalism Quarterly, 69(2), 329-341.
This content analysis of 14 local television news operations in five markets looks at how local TV news shows contribute to the marketplace of ideas. Performance was measured as the allocation of stories to types of coverage that provide the context about events and issues confronting the public.
Blaikie, A. (1993). Images of age: a reflexive process. Applied Ergonomics, 24 (1), 51-58.
Content analysis of magazines provides a sharp instrument for reflecting the change in stereotypes of aging over past decades.
Craig, R. S. (1992). The effect of day part on gender portrayals in television commercials: a content analysis. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 26 (5-6), 197-213.
Gender portrayals in 2,209 network television commercials were content analyzed. To compare differences between three day parts, the sample was chosen from three time periods: daytime, evening prime time, and weekend afternoon sportscasts. The results indicate large and consistent differences in the way men and women are portrayed in these three day parts, with almost all comparisons reaching significance at the .05 level. Although ads in all day parts tended to portray men in stereotypical roles of authority and dominance, those on weekends tended to emphasize escape form home and family. The findings of earlier studies which did not consider day part differences may now have to be reevaluated.
Dillon, D. R. et al. (1992). Article content and authorship trends in The Reading Teacher, 1948-1991. The Reading Teacher, 45 (5), 362-368.
The authors explore changes in the focus of the journal over time.
Eberhardt, EA. (1991). The rhetorical analysis of three journal articles: The study of form, content, and ideology. Ft. Collins, CO: Colorado State University.
Eberhardt uses content analysis in this thesis paper to analyze three journal articles that reported on President Ronald Reagan’s address in which he responded to the Tower Commission report concerning the IranContra Affair. The reports concentrated on three rhetorical elements: idea generation or content; linguistic style or choice of language; and the potential societal effect of both, which Eberhardt analyzes, along with the particular ideological orientation espoused by each magazine.
Ellis, B. G. & Dick, S. J. (1996). ‘Who was ‘Shadow’? The computer knows: applying grammar-program statistics in content analyses to solve mysteries about authorship. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 73(4), 947-963.
This study’s objective was to employ the statistics-documentation portion of a word-processing program’s grammar-check feature as a final, definitive, and objective tool for content analyses – used in tandem with qualitative analyses – to determine authorship. Investigators concluded there was significant evidence from both modalities to support their theory that Henry Watterson, long-time editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, probably was the South’s famed Civil War correspondent “Shadow” and to rule out another prime suspect, John H. Linebaugh of the Memphis Daily Appeal. Until now, this Civil War mystery has never been conclusively solved, puzzling historians specializing in Confederate journalism.
Gottschalk, L. A., Stein, M. K. & Shapiro, D.H. (1997). The application of computerized content analysis in a psychiatric outpatient clinic. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 53(5), 427-442.
Twenty-five new psychiatric outpatients were clinically evaluated and were administered a brief psychological screening battery which included measurements of symptoms, personality, and cognitive function. Included in this assessment procedure were the Gottschalk-Gleser Content Analysis Scales on which scores were derived from five minute speech samples by means of an artificial intelligence-based computer program. The use of this computerized content analysis procedure for initial, rapid diagnostic neuropsychiatric appraisal is supported by this research.
Graham, J. L., Kamins, M. A., & Oetomo, D. S. (1993). Content analysis of German and Japanese advertising in print media from Indonesia, Spain, and the United States. Journal of Advertising, 22 (2), 5-16.
The authors analyze informational and emotional content in print advertisements in order to consider how home-country culture influences firms’ marketing strategies and tactics in foreign markets. Research results provided evidence contrary to the original hypothesis that home-country culture would influence ads in each of the target countries.
Herzog, A. (1973). The B.S. Factor: The theory and technique of faking it in America. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Herzog takes a look at the rhetoric of American culture using content analysis to point out discrepancies between intention and reality in American society. The study reveals, albeit in a comedic tone, how double talk and “not quite lies” are pervasive in our culture.
Horton, N. S. (1986). Young adult literature and censorship: A content analysis of seventy-eight young adult books. Denton, TX: North Texas State University.
The purpose of Horton’s content analysis was to analyze a representative seventy-eight current young adult books to determine the extent to which they contain items which are objectionable to would-be censors. Seventy-eight books were identified which fit the criteria of popularity and literary quality. Each book was analyzed for, and tallied for occurrence of, six categories, including profanity, sex, violence, parent conflict, drugs and condoned bad behavior.
Isaacs, J. S. (1984). A verbal content analysis of the early memories of psychiatric patients. Berkeley: California School of Professional Psychology.
Isaacs did a content analysis investigation on the relationship between words and phrases used in early memories and clinical diagnosis. His hypothesis was that in conveying their early memories schizophrenic patients tend to use an identifiable set of words and phrases more frequently than do nonpatients and that schizophrenic patients use these words and phrases more frequently than do patients with major affective disorders.
Jean Lee, S. K. & Hwee Hoon, T. (1993). Rhetorical vision of men and women managers in Singapore. Human Relations, 46 (4), 527-542.
A comparison of media portrayal of male and female managers’ rhetorical vision in Singapore is made. Content analysis of newspaper articles used to make this comparison also reveals the inherent conflicts that women managers have to face. Purposive and multi-stage sampling of articles are utilized.
Kaur-Kasior, S. (1987). The treatment of culture in greeting cards: A content analysis. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University.
Using six historical periods dating from 1870 to 1987, this content analysis study attempted to determine what structural/cultural aspects of American society were reflected in greeting cards. The study determined that the size of cards increased over time, included more pages, and had animals and flowers as their most dominant symbols. In addition, white was the most common color used. Due to habituation and specialization, says the author, greeting cards have become institutionalized in American culture.
Koza, J. E. (1992). The missing males and other gender-related issues in music education: A critical analysis of evidence from the Music Supervisor’s Journal, 1914-1924. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco.
The goal of this study was to identify all educational issues that would today be explicitly gender related and to analyze the explanations past music educators gave for the existence of gender-related problems. A content analysis of every gender-related reference was undertaken, finding that the current preoccupation with males in music education has a long history and that little has changed since the early part of this century.
Laccinole, M. D. (1982). Aging and married couples: A language content analysis of a conversational and expository speech task. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon.
Using content analysis, this paper investigated the relationship of age to the use of the grammatical categories, and described the differences in the usage of these grammatical categories in a conversation and expository speech task by fifty married couples. The subjects Laccinole used in his analysis were Caucasian, English speaking, middle class, ranged in ages from 20 to 83 years of age, were in good health and had no history of communication disorders.
Laffal, J. (1995). A concept analysis of Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Tale of a Tub’ and ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ Computers and Humanities, 29(5), 339-362.
In this study, comparisons of concept profiles of “Tub,” “Gulliver,” and Swift’s own contemporary texts, as well as a composite text of 18th century writers, reveal that “Gulliver” is conceptually different from “Tub.” The study also discovers that the concepts and words of these texts suggest two strands in Swift’s thinking.
Lewis, S. M. (1991). Regulation from a deregulatory FCC: Avoiding discursive dissonance. Masters Thesis, Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University.
This thesis uses content analysis to examine inconsistent statements made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its policy documents during the 1980s. Lewis analyzes positions set forth by the FCC in its policy statements and catalogues different strategies that can be used by speakers to be or to appear consistent, as well as strategies to avoid inconsistent speech or discursive dissonance.
Norton, T. L. (1987). The changing image of childhood: A content analysis of Caldecott Award books. Los Angeles: University of South Carolina.
Content analysis was conducted on 48 Caldecott Medal Recipient books dating from 1938 to 1985 to determine whether the reflect the idea that the social perception of childhood has altered since the early 1960′s. The results revealed an increasing “loss of childhood innocence,” as well as a general sentimentality for childhood pervasive in the texts. Suggests further study of children’s literature to confirm the validity of such study.
O’Dell, J. W. & Weideman, D. (1993). Computer content analysis of the Schreber case. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 49(1), 120-125.
An example of the application of content analysis as a means of recreating a mental model of the psychology of an individual.
Pratt, C. A. & Pratt, C. B. (1995). Comparative content analysis of food and nutrition advertisements in Ebony, Essence, and Ladies’ Home Journal. Journal of Nutrition Education, 27(1), 11-18.
This study used content analysis to measure the frequencies and forms of food, beverage, and nutrition advertisements and their associated health-promotional message in three U.S. consumer magazines during two 3-year periods: 1980-1982 and 1990-1992. The study showed statistically significant differences among the three magazines in both frequencies and types of major promotional messages in the advertisements. Differences between the advertisements in Ebony and Essence, the readerships of which were primarily African-American, and those found in Ladies Home Journal were noted, as were changes in the two time periods. Interesting tie in to ethnographic research studies?
Riffe, D., Lacy, S., & Drager, M. W. (1996). Sample size in content analysis of weekly news magazines. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly,73(3), 635-645.
This study explores a variety of approaches to deciding sample size in analyzing magazine content. Having tested random samples of size six, eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, and sixteen issues, the authors show that a monthly stratified sample of twelve issues is the most efficient method for inferring to a year’s issues.
Roberts, S. K. (1987). A content analysis of how male and female protagonists in Newbery Medal and Honor books overcome conflict: Incorporating a locus of control framework. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas.
The purpose of this content analysis was to analyze Newbery Medal and Honor books in order to determine how male and female protagonists were assigned behavioral traits in overcoming conflict as it relates to an internal or external locus of control schema. Roberts used all, instead of just a sample, of the fictional Newbery Medal and Honor books which met his study’s criteria. A total of 120 male and female protagonists were categorized, from Newbery books dating from 1922 to 1986.
Schneider, J. (1993). Square One TV content analysis: Final report. New York: Children’s Television Workshop.
This report summarizes the mathematical and pedagogical content of the 230 programs in the Square One TV library after five seasons of production, relating that content to the goals of the series which were to make mathematics more accessible, meaningful, and interesting to the children viewers.
Smith, T. E., Sells, S. P., and Clevenger, T. Ethnographic content analysis of couple and therapist perceptions in a reflecting team setting. The Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 20 (3), 267-286.
An ethnographic content analysis was used to examine couple and therapist perspectives about the use and value of reflecting team practice. Postsession ethnographic interviews from both couples and therapists were examined for the frequency of themes in seven categories that emerged from a previous ethnographic study of reflecting teams. Ethnographic content analysis is briefly contrasted with conventional modes of quantitative content analysis to illustrate its usefulness and rationale for discovering emergent patterns, themes, emphases, and process using both inductive and deductive methods of inquiry.
Stahl, N. A. (1987). Developing college vocabulary: A content analysis of instructional materials. Reading, Research and Instruction, 26 (3).
This study investigates the extent to which the content of 55 college vocabulary texts is consistent with current research and theory on vocabulary instruction. It recommends less reliance on memorization and more emphasis on deep understanding and independent vocabulary development.
Swetz, F. (1992). Fifteenth and sixteenth century arithmetic texts: What can we learn from them? Science and Education, 1 (4).
Surveys the format and content of 15th and 16th century arithmetic textbooks, discussing the types of problems that were most popular in these early texts and briefly analyses problem contents. Notes the residual educational influence of this era’s arithmetical and instructional practices.
Walsh, K., et al. (1996). Management in the public sector: a content analysis of journals. Public Administration 74 (2), 315-325.
The popularity and implementaion of managerial ideas from 1980 to 1992 are examined through the content of five journals revolving on local government, health, education and social service. Contents were analyzed according to commercialism, user involvement, performance evaluation, staffing, strategy and involvement with other organizations. Overall, local government showed utmost involvement with commercialism while health and social care articles were most concerned with user involvement.
For Further Reading
Abernethy, A. M., & Franke, G. R. (1996).The information content of advertising: a meta-analysis. Journal of Advertising, Summer 25 (2),1-18.
Carley, K., & Palmquist, M. (1992). Extracting, representing and analyzing mental models. Social Forces, 70 (3), 601-636.
Fan, D. (1988). Predictions of public opinion from the mass media: Computer content analysis and mathematical modeling. New York, NY: Greenwood Press.
Franzosi, R. (1990). Computer-assisted coding of textual data: An application to semantic grammars. Sociological Methods and Research, 19(2), 225-257.
McTavish, D.G., & Pirro, E. (1990) Contextual content analysis. Quality and Quantity, 24, 245-265.
Palmquist, M. E. (1990). The lexicon of the classroom: language and learning in writing class rooms. Doctoral dissertation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.
Palmquist, M. E., Carley, K.M., and Dale, T.A. (1997). Two applications of automated text analysis: Analyzing literary and non-literary texts. In C. Roberts (Ed.), Text Analysis for the Social Sciences: Methods for Drawing Statistical Inferences from Texts and Tanscripts. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Roberts, C.W. (1989). Other than counting words: A linguistic approach to content analysis. Social Forces, 68, 147-177.
Issues in Content Analysis
Jolliffe, L. (1993). Yes! More content analysis! Newspaper Research Journal, 14(3-4), 93-97.
The author responds to an editorial essay by Barbara Luebke which criticizes excessive use of content analysis in newspaper content studies. The author points out the positive applications of content analysis when it is theory-based and utilized as a means of suggesting how or why the content exists, or what its effects on public attitudes or behaviors may be.
Kang, N., Kara, A., Laskey, H. A., & Seaton, F. B. (1993). A SAS MACRO for calculating intercoder agreement in content analysis. Journal of Advertising, 22(2), 17-28.
A key issue in content analysis is the level of agreement across the judgments which classify the objects or stimuli of interest. A review of articles published in the Journal of Advertising indicates that many authors are not fully utilizing recommended measures of intercoder agreement and thus may not be adequately establishing the reliability of their research. This paper presents a SAS MACRO which facilitates the computation of frequently recommended indices of intercoder agreement in content analysis.
Lacy, S. & Riffe, D. (1996). Sampling error and selecting intercoder reliability samples for nominal content categories. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 73(4), 693-704.
This study views intercoder reliability as a sampling problem. It develops a formula for generating sample sizes needed to have valid reliability estimates. It also suggests steps for reporting reliability. The resulting sample sizes will permit a known degree of confidence that the agreement in a sample of items is representative of the pattern that would occur if all content items were coded by all coders.
Riffe, D., Aust, C. F., & Lacy, S. R. (1993). The effectiveness of random, consecutive day and constructed week sampling in newspaper content analysis. Journalism Quarterly, 70 (1), 133-139.
This study compares 20 sets each of samples for four different sizes using simple random, constructed week and consecutive day samples of newspaper content. Comparisons of sample efficiency, based on the percentage of sample means in each set of 20 falling within one or two standard errors of the population mean, show the superiority of constructed week sampling.
Thomas, S. (1994). Artifactual study in the analysis of culture: A defense of content analysis in a postmodern age. Communication Research, 21(6), 683-697.
Although both modern and postmodern scholars have criticized the method of content analysis with allegations of reductionism and other epistemological limitations, it is argued here that these criticisms are ill founded. In building and argument for the validity of content analysis, the general value of artifact or text study is first considered.
Zollars, C. (1994). The perils of periodical indexes: Some problems in constructing samples for content analysis and culture indicators research. Communication Research, 21(6), 698-714.
The author examines problems in using periodical indexes to construct research samples via the use of content analysis and culture indicator research. Issues of historical and idiosyncratic changes in index subject category heading and subheadings make article headings potentially misleading indicators. Index subject categories are not necessarily invalid as a result; nevertheless, the author discusses the need to test for category longevity, coherence, and consistency over time, and suggests the use of oversampling, cross-references, and other techniques as a means of correcting and/or compensating for hidden inaccuracies in classification, and as a means of constructing purposive samples for analytic comparisons.