third-person phenomenon; gender; religion; media; perceptions of danger; comparative study


This article focuses on the third-person perception (TPP) of Amish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women. TPP’s central insight is that consumers believe media influences “her/him” (the third person) much more than “me” (the first person). Since media technologies pose challenges to these women’s sense of religious devotion, their TPP toward secular media contributes to the discussion about religion, gender, and media. The study uses quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including a survey, participant observation, and interviews, to answer three research questions: (1) Do Amish and Ultra-Orthodox women have the third-person perception, reflected by their estimation that the negative influence of secular media will be greater on others than on themselves? (2) What are these women’s perceptions of secular media’s potential danger to their community, family, and themselves? (3) What can we learn when comparing women’s perceptions in these two religious settings about secular media influences? The results show that nearly all Amish and Ultra-Orthodox women perceive that secular media holds potential danger for their community, family, and themselves and that no support exists in this study to argue that these women are experiencing the TPP. Their qualitative responses reflect their perceptions about potential dangers to their community, family, and selves. The comparison addressed the two groups’ key similarity: the high perception of the media’s risks and dangers. Simultaneously, it also reveals a key difference: Amish women keep thinking about their resources—mind, soul, and time—while Ultra-Orthodox women’s responses show that they are much more familiar with popular culture. [Abstract by author.]


I would like to thank the JAPAS lead editors—Cory Anderson, Steven Reschly, and Rosanna Hess—and Autumn Groat for their helpful editing, Sapir Academic College for its support, the many anonymous Amish and Ultra-Orthodox women who participated in this study, and my Lancaster County, PA, hosts. This research was supported by a Fulbright Foundation post-doctoral grant, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute’s scholar-in-residence research grant, and a Memorial Foundation research grant.



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