Texas Tech University

Passion for Superheroes Ignites Thesis Project

Alana Krafsur

Jeanette Moya

Power, strength and honor are attributes many people value. For some people, watching a larger-than-life figure exemplify these characteristics while taking on the impossible is empowering. College of Media & Communication master's student Jeanette Moya has always drawn strength from these types of characters.

Moya found a way to integrate her interest in superhero television shows into her research. When it came to choosing a thesis topic, Moya knew exactly what she wanted to study. “I want this to mean something,” Moya said. “I want it to be rewarding.”

Moya's curiosity regarding superheroes arose when she was a child. Watching television shows such as Power Rangers and X-Men gave her strength when facing challenging situations in her own life. Without watching these shows, Moya stated she would not have had the confidence to aim high in her professional and academic life.

The topic of Moya's research is how identifying with superheroes on television shows may help viewers improve their self-esteem and well-being. By conducting a series of in-depth interviews with viewers, she said she hopes to better understand the viewer relationship with superheroes. Her goal is to see if there are any benefits that viewers receive from watching these characters on television.

Dr. Bryan McLaughlin, Assistant Professor of Advertising and Moya's adviser, said her work is making important contributions to research on media effects.

“Jeanette's work is important because it challenges the typical assumptions that watching television is an unproductive leisure activity,” McLaughlin said.

“Her work illustrates that TV watching can be beneficial when people are actively engaged with a show and use that content to mindfully reflect on their own life and how they can grow as individuals.”

McLaughlin also had praise for Moya. “Jeanette is the type of student you always hope to work with as an adviser,” he said. “She is bright and inquisitive, and also eager, determined and receptive to feedback.”

Moya's positive and friendly persona has fostered many friendships in the graduate program. “I've connected with people here in a way I haven't before,” Moya said. “You have a family outside your family.”

After finishing her thesis, Moya hopes to pursue a doctoral degree and become a college professor. “I'm going to continue this path because it's fulfilling,” Moya said. “I'm really looking forward to seeing what opportunities will come in the future.” 

For more information about entertainment media research at the College of Media & Communication, visit:

https://www.depts.ttu.edu/comc/research/areas/entertainment/