Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

B. Gail Wilson

Second Advisor

Mark Piwinsky

Third Advisor

Rachel Porter


Human trafficking is the largest criminal activity in the world and frequently defined as intricate and complex. The realities this modern day slavery are often confusing and misunderstood due to stereotypes portrayed through the media. Feature films provide an opportunity to explore the realities of trafficking and create an awareness that breaks down stereotypes and strengthens anti-trafficking efforts. The purpose of this study was to investigate audiences’ perception of human trafficking and their motivation to become agents of after viewing feature films containing narratives on human trafficking. The study utilized a pre/post-test approach to determine if feature films had an effect on the audiences’ perception. Under the framework of different voices theory and proper distance concept, the researcher expected to find differences in gender responses based on the genre of movie participants were exposed to. The findings from this study concluded that films on human trafficking have an impact on audiences regardless of genre. The study also showed that films identified as difficult to watch can still promote a desire to become active in anti-trafficking efforts. Future research is needed to further explore the long term impact on audiences’ perception of human trafficking and their desire to become agents of change in anti-trafficking efforts.