Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

Mary Beth Leidman, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Jay Start, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Zachary Stiegler, Ph.D.


This 40-item survey study evaluates perceptions of user generated content (UGC) as found on YouTube by undergraduate college students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. A random sample of 182 volunteer undergraduate students over the age of 18 completed an online survey to investigate if less or more dependent users (as defined by fulfilled needs such as information seeking, entertainment, interpersonal utility, etc.) affected one's UGC aesthetic preferences of sound clarity, editing style, and other entertainment-based characteristics. The investigation is theoretically grounded by the Media Systems Dependency theory that suggests that as users become dependent upon a medium, they are more likely to become affected by that medium. T-test analyses compared users' dependency upon UGC with their ratings of likelihood to continue watching or stop watching UGC based on aesthetic quality issues. Results indicated differences between dependency levels concerning sound clarity, but not editing style. Results also showed that users rated entertainment-based UGC characteristics such as humor content as more important than any other characteristic, including aesthetics. These YouTube preferences for convenience and enjoyment rather than high-production mainstream media can provide insight to the changing online landscape.