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Motivation and reward for media consumption Uses and gratifications theory.

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1 Motivation and reward for media consumption Uses and gratifications theory

2 Why? Why do people spend so much time with the media? –Time spent with the media is time taken away from other pursuits. –It really isn’t ‘natural’ in an evolutionary sense. Most scholars say we are ‘entertained’ by the media and that this is a pleasurable experience

3 Choice levels Why choose media consumption rather than some other activity? –Why watch rather than do? Why pick: –A particular medium? –A particular genre? –A particular show/episode?

4 Why do we like certain content? Nature v. nurture ‘Universal’ tendencies v. individual differences

5 What has this got to do with electronic media? Ohler and Nieding argue that entertainment has survival value, especially as a form of attracting fit mates –Big brains have survival value –Entertainment is a marker for intelligence

6 What has this got to do with electronic media? Vorderer, Steen and Chan argue that entertainment is our inherited form of play, which had survival value but might not anymore—that is, when play developed it was a way to prepare for a tiger trying to eat you “Tag” as practice in predation and escape –Play had to be intrinsically motivating Dopamine, etc. tied to play/simulation

7 Uses and gratifications research “Uses and grats” asks why people attend to media content and what they get from it –The common-sense theory is that people seek out media that satisfy their wants and/or needs. –U&G research tries to build up a list of different types of gratifications that people turn to media content to provide. The goal is to match media and content to gratifications

8 Gratifications One way to classify gratifications is based on whether exposure is sought for its own sake (intrinsic motivation) or whether it is pursued to support some other goal (extrinsic motivation)

9 Gratifications Another distinction is between gratifications that are biologically based and those that are learned –Nature v. nurture Excitation/sensation seeking Mood management Social reinforcement Aesthetics Economic profitability

10 Gratifications A third distinction is between gratifications that we are aware of (conscious) and those that we are unaware of (unconscious)


12 Katz, Gurevitch and Haas (1973) developed 35 needs taken from the social and psychological functions of the mass media and put them into five categories: Cognitive needs, including acquiring information, knowledge and understanding; Affective needs, including emotion, pleasure, feelings; Personal integrative needs, including credibility, stability, status; Social integrative needs, including interacting with family and friends; and Tension release needs, including escape and diversion.

13 Intrinsic motivation Based on several factors –Novelty –Challenge –Aesthetic value –Competence –Autonomy –Relatedness

14 What is entertainment? The general idea is that entertainment relates to intrinsic satisfaction of media exposure –Enjoyment of some sort May be affective (liking) May be cognitive (gain pleasure from learning, fantasizing, etc.)

15 Entertainment Intentionalist stance –Looks for the causes of entertainment in people’s subjective mental states Objectivist stance –Looks for the causes of entertainment in “causal relations between material, physiological processes” –Certain behaviors are chosen through natural selection The behaviors are intrinsically satisfying as well as adaptive

16 McQuail, Blumler, and Brown (1972) proposed a model of “media-person interactions” to classify four important media gratifications: –(1) Diversion: escape from routine or problems; emotional release; –(2) Personal relationships: companionship; social utility; –(3) Personal identity: self reference; reality exploration; value reinforcement; and –(4) Surveillance (forms of information seeking).

17 Objectivist concerns “Although natural selection built the structures that underpin our motivational systems, those structures operate correctly only in an environment that resembles, or approximately reproduces, the environment in which these structures themselves evolved.” Vorderer, Steen and Chan (p. 10)

18 Objectivist concerns “Although natural selection operates on outcomes, behavior itself cannot be inherited. Rather, what can be passed on through genetic material is the ability and proclivity to engage in particular types of behavior under perceived types of circumstances.” Vorderer, Steen and Chan (p. 10)

19 Sensation seeking “For most persons maximal enjoyment of sensory experiences lies somewhere between familiarity and novelty.” –Zuckerman, (p. 367) –Individuals vary significantly in their motivation to experience “varied, novel, complex and intense sensations and experiences”

20 Elements of sensation Novelty Intensity Complexity

21 Excitation Theorists have argued that excitation itself generates pleasure. Simply getting the blood pumping watching an action show or playing a video game generates endorphins/dopamine

22 Mood management People will choose content that best complements their current mood –Maintains an optimal state of excitation

23 Emotional stimulation Emotion management –“Emotional stimulation or relaxation can be actively regulated by varying the strength and target of dispositional alignments based on the distance between characters and the self (Zillmann, 1994). In this perspective, pleasure and pain, as well as arousal and relaxation, are neither mutually exclusive nor polar opposites. Instead, enjoyment is seen as relief from overstimulation (through relaxation) or understimulation (through arousal).

24 Release from negative feelings Even in the case of negative content, release from the negative feelings through a happy ending is considered a source of enjoyment

25 Simulation “In a simulation substitute objects are used to enact the core causal relations of a target phenomenon.” –Hyperintelligible (real thing would be difficult to understand) –Novelty and interest (most real things are quite boring)

26 Social reinforcement Group discussion of content—being ‘in the know’ –“Watercooler effect” Parasocial interaction with characters Compensation for lost partners, lack of social circle Occasion for getting together with friends, family –Sports

27 Aesthetics Appreciation for beauty, form, etc. Some innate preferences (balance, color) but mostly learned –Develop an appreciation for art, music, etc.

28 Economic/welfare value Can learn valuable skills Information value in competitive settings Money-saving tips Health information

29 People sometimes cite reasons for consumption you would not predict Some gratifications may not be as obvious as others –Herzog’s (no relation—not even spelled the same) study of daytime radio serial listeners –Radway’s Reading the Romance –Berelson’s study of what people missed during a newspaper strike

30 Daytime serial listeners Emotional release –Enjoyed hearing of other people’s trouble Provided some compensation for their own distress Wishful thinking –Characters led lives the listeners wanted to live themselves Valuable advice –“serials provided many of their listeners with explanations as to how to handle problems that they themselves might experience” –(Lowery & DeFleur)

31 Richard Kilborn (1992: 75-84) offers the following common reasons for watching soaps: –regular part of domestic routine and entertaining reward for work –Launch pad for social and personal interaction –fulfilling individual needs: a way of choosing to be alone or of enduring enforced loneliness –identification and involvement with characters (perhaps cathartic)

32 –escapist fantasy (American supersoaps more fantastic) –focus of debate on topical issues –a kind of critical game involving knowledge of the rules and conventions of the genre

33 Reading the Romance Women used the romance novels as a form of escape from their rather humdrum lives, a means to connect with other housewives and as a way to accommodate themselves to the male- dominated world they live in

34 Transportation into narrative worlds Green, Brock & Kaufman argue that transportation is inherently enjoyable –Loss of attention to the here and now concurrent with an increase in the feeling that one is in another place and time –Transportation is a desired state Disappointment when audience member just “couldn’t get into it” Anger when someone is talking during the movie

35 Transportation People are drawn not just to happy worlds and situations but also to scary ones –“Stories enable recipients to identify and mingle with risk takers—to live life even more fully. Just as more story heroes survive risks, the story recipient can see herself as similarly invulnerable. Even if the story protagonists are doomed, the audience member is safe.” Sensation seeking?

36 Transportation may have advantages as it allows the audience member to think about past selves or to construct possible futures. It also may reflect the need to understand others

37 Transportation allows people to leave their real-world worries behind –Especially valuable to those who focus on their own shortcomings or discrepancies from an ideal self Study showed that those who had just received feedback saying they had failed watched more television

38 Transportation allows people to expand their horizons –Creates an openness to new information Identity play –Vicarious experience without associated risk Learning

39 Enjoyment through connections with characters –“Transportation into a narrative world may be a prerequisite for identification with fictional characters. Central to the process of identification is the adoption of a character’s thoughts, goals emotions, and behaviors, and such vicarious experience requires the reader or viewer to leave his or her physical, social, and psychological reality behind in favor of the world of the narrative and its inhabitants.” Parasocial interaction (‘illusion of intimacy’) Disposition theory

40 Influences on enjoyment Craftsmanship –Detail Situational influences –Distraction –Experimentally instructing viewers to focus on surface detail of a narrative –Fact v. fiction Ambiguous findings—may be that narrative plausibility is the most important –Interactivity May enhance “flow”

41 Flow Csikszentmihalyi’s study of artists and the intense pleasure of their immersion in their tasks led to the concept of “flow” and its application in media contexts.

42 Flow In an interview with Wired magazine, Csíkszentmihályi described flow as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost."

43 Flow Flow is a self-motivating experience characterized by: –Intense and focused concentration on what one is doing in the present moment, –Merging of action and awareness, –Loss of reflective self-consciousness (i.e., loss of awareness of oneself as a social actor), –A sense that one can control one’s actions; that is a sense that one can, in principle, deal with the situation because one knows how to respond to whatever happens next,

44 –Distortion of temporal experience (typically, a sense that time has passed faster than normal), and –Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, such that often the end goal is just an excuse for the process. (Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002, p. 90 quoted in Sherry, 2004)

45 Anxiety Flow Boredom Difficulty of the medium Skill in medium use

46 Video game uses and gratifications

47 Types of video game players “Play theorists have identified a number of types of players, each with a different need that gets met by the type of game they play.” –Klug & Schell

48 Types The Competitor plays to be better than other players. The Explorer plays to experience the boundaries of the play world. He plays to discover first what others do not know yet. The Collector plays to acquire the most stuff through the game. The Achiever plays to not only be better now, but also be better in the rankings over time. He plays to achieve the most championships over time.

49 The Joker plays for the fun alone and enjoys the social aspects. The Director plays for the thrill of being in charge. He wants to orchestrate the event. The Storyteller plays to create or live in an alternate world and build narrative out of that world. The Performer plays for the show he can put on. The Craftsman plays to build, solve puzzles, and engineer constructs.

50 Controlling their environment Games not only allow players to escape their environment, but to actively become involved in a new environment –Only escape is available in most entertainment media Gamers make up little stories about game characters, increasing the realistic feeling of the game Control sought is mainly predictability of actions within the game so that the player can anticipate actions of opponents and be assured that random happenings do not undo his own actions

51 MMORPG game players tend to be Achiever/Collectors “These people tend to view MMORPG games as a way to gain control in an alternative universe that is “sort of” like the one they actually live in, but is much more predictable. This forms an alternative to the world they live in, which feels (to them) random, heartless, and insensitive to their needs.”

52 Control players want order so much that they are willing to give up narrative logic for predictability

53 Vicarious experience Participants are attracted to the ability to “experience a universe they may have only imagined” –Fantasy games –History games Storytellers are attracted by this possibility Storytellers often want to see “what would have happened if—” –“What if Stonewall Jackson had not been killed 2 months earlier and Lee had him at his side in [the battle of Gettysburg]?

54 Vicarious experience Sports games are also popular for this gratification—especially those that allow for team management and strategy

55 Other lives “Similar to Storytellers, these players have a lot in common with those who enjoy traditional media such (as) books and movies. They often play games to escape into an alternate reality, to see and explore and interact with every nook and cranny of that reality.” –Having control over the environment is not as important has having the environment seem real and fleshed out –They expect random events, even want them (so long as they fit with the scenario) Volcanoes –Scenarios can be designed to allow for role playing, collection of artifacts, rebuilding after disasters, etc. –Explorers, Collectors, Performers, and Craftsmen

56 People play to compete “The stereotype is hardcore, frag-minded, trash-talking, head-to-head gamers playing Doom or Quake on the Internet and bragging about their conquests afterwards.” –“Competitive games give people a way to express their combative, aggressive tendencies in a safe, socially acceptable way.” –The player wants to establish a pecking order –This group may be maladjusted socially

57 In extreme cases, “Their success in games many times is a substitute for social acceptance and success in the real world.” Similar to those who play competitive real-life sports for “the adrenaline rush of competition and the need to establish dominance in some arena.” –The environment must be organized Standings, ladders, rankings

58 Exploring fantasy relationships Explorer, Joker, Director, Storyteller, Performer Much as the appeal of romance novels (women) or pornography (men) Not really well developed in gaming field yet –RPGs closest

59 Women are attracted by the possibilities of romantic relationships “Even if the game designer does not explicitly deal with romance in the story, the female gamers will invent it in their own head.” Chat rooms, etc. have been much more involved in ‘cyber-sex’

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