Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisorBering, Jesse
dc.contributor.authorGleeson, Summer
dc.identifier.citationGleeson, S. (2019). Putting Meaning in Naturalism: The Role of Science Films and Support for Evolution (Thesis, Master of Science Communication). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractOnly 19% of Americans believe that human beings evolved over millions of years and that this occurred without any divine creator, according to recent Gallup polls (Swift, 2017). Despite overwhelming supportive evidence for evolution theory (ET), the public remains hesitant; instead, many continue to embrace creationist accounts, including Intelligent Design Theory (IDT). While the reasons behind this phenomenon are numerous and complex, underlying psychological factors have demonstrated strong abilities to influence such beliefs. The present research examined how one such psychological factor, the fear of death, can influence support for worldviews that provided different accounts (or absence thereof) of life’s meaning. Meaningful and meaningless accounts for the origins of life, based on creationist and naturalist worldviews, were presented to participants through 2-minute science films with narrations either explaining creationist or naturalist accounts. They then read two similarly worded articles discussing the evidence for ET and for IDT, reporting their support for each theory. Because ET alone provides no comfort for existential concerns, death-primed participants were expected to show less support for this theory after watching the meaningless film. Instead, agnostic participants remained supportive of ET and were less supportive of IDT. I suggest through these findings where communication of ET to the public could improve, not only through how the theory is presented, but also through which mediums. The study informed the production of the creative component of this thesis: Changing the Game: A Theory on the Fringes of Darwinism, a 25-minute natural history documentary detailing ‘niche construction theory’. The theory suggests that species can impact their own evolutionary paths by changing their environments. This perspective offers a greater sense of meaning in the origins of life than traditional natural selection, and thus may be an effective tool for communicating evolution to the public.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.titlePutting Meaning in Naturalism: The Role of Science Films and Support for Evolution
dc.language.rfc3066en for Science Communication of Science Communication of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
 Find in your library

Files in this item


There are no files associated with this item.

This item is not available in full-text via OUR Archive.

If you are the author of this item, please contact us if you wish to discuss making the full text publicly available.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record