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Week 9 Notes

by: Eric Jackson

Week 9 Notes COMM370010

Eric Jackson

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Here are the notes from this week - parasocial interactions, mood management, excitation transfer, and flow theory. The next exam is on Monday the 9th - I'll be posting the study guide by Thurs...
Theories of Mass Communication
Angelini,James R.
Class Notes
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Eric Jackson on Sunday November 1, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to COMM370010 at University of Delaware taught by Angelini,James R. in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 10 views.


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Date Created: 11/01/15
Theories of Mass Communication Week 9 Appeal of Suspense - People want to experience positive outcomes of protagonist or hero - But what if they’re not sure if the hero will succeed?  suspense! - Audience must experience the negative feelings to get to the (hopefully) positive outcome that results at the end o To some, these negative feelings can be just as pleasurable as the positive ones at the end Elements of Suspense - Uncertainty about the unknown – audience does not know what will happen next – leads to nervousness and anxiety - Worry about what the hero has to go through - Threat of a negative outcome is always a possibility throughout - Happy ending at the end of the suspense heightens because of all of the negativity that precedes it Zillman (1980) – VERY IMPORTANT MASS COMMUNICATION THEORIST - Focus on one of the paradoxes of mass communication - The paradox in question here: why do people enjoy the negative feelings associated with suspenseful media content (nervousness, anxiety, etc.)? - Questions the masochistic qualities of people - Arousal-Jag Approach o Suspense is uncomfortable and unpleasant – very emotionally draining o Pleasure occurs when suspense is resolved o Greater suspense, greater relief, greater pleasure  the payoff is worth it o Lower aversion will not have as large of a level of pleasure because not as far of a drop in negative emotions PARASOCIAL INTERACTIONS/RELATIONSHIPS Parasocial relationship: one-sided relationship in which one party knows a great deal about the other, but the other does not - The other person doesn’t return those same feelings or may not even know that the other person exists - Ex: relationships between celebrities and fans\ - These have become increasingly common as TV shows and film popularity rise o These people are “brought into our homes” daily or weekly Theories of Mass Communication Week 9 o Especially with reality television we can see the “inner lives” of celebrities - Parasocial interactions create a bond of intimacy o People feel like what favorite celebrities do impacts their lives in a personal way o Ex: sports teams, bands o Don’t know them personally on a one to one level - These interactions are promoted actively in much of TV o Characters address the camera directly  fostering a relationship with us that isn’t actually real o Talk shows do this by going into audience to answer audience questions or addressing broad-reaching topics o Soap operas involve overly romanticized versions of everyday interpersonal activity o Sports create this connection between players and fans by telling people the players’ stats MOOD MANAGEMENT Another theory by Zillman (1988) – DON’T FORGET ABOUT HIM - Based on selective exposure research – people choose to expose themselves to media that supports their existing attitudes and beliefs - Entertainment media are used by people to regulate their moods/emotions o Want to elicit specific emotional response and choose specific media to do so - Individuals will: o Strive to rid themselves of bad/unhappy mood – go away negative feelings o Strive to perpetuate and maintain intensity of good moods  For both of these you can use positive media to reinforce or switch your mood o These choices might be a conscious or unconscious actions!  Sometimes the mood just makes you make the choice – you don’t explicitly say “I’m happy so I’m going to watch this”  Which media you choose doesn’t have the same media on you as it may on other people Mood and Media - What about media content can affect moods? o Excitatory potential – level of arousal or excitement  Fast-paced music has high level of arousal  Fast camera movements/changes has higher excitatory potential  Violence or sex have high excitatory potential o Absorption potential – potential for an audience member to get lost in the narrative/storyline Theories of Mass Communication Week 9 o Semantic affinity – how alike is audience member’s mood to emotions being generated by emotions being generated by media  Need low semantic affinity to change mood o Hedonic valence – pleasure derived from media (varies from person to person) – how positive or negative something is is different from person to person - Based on experience with media content, people have learned what kind of content is exciting, calming, pleasurable, not pleasurable o Tend to avoid content that does not provide positive emotions o People use media content to regulate arousal  Valence (positive or negative)  Level of arousal (excited or calm)  Dominance (in or out of control) o People use media content to increase feelings of pleasure Research Example – Hormones and Program Choices - Appeal of TV programs to women during their menstrual cycle - Women have positive emotions during ovulation - First asked questions about their media preferences o Given a list of 25 – 10 dramas, 10 sitcoms, 5 news programs - Also asked questions about menstrual cycle - Researchers believed when hormones were lowest women would want to watch sitcoms more than anything else - When hormones were highest, believed women would want to watch more dramas (esp. more sexually-charged ones) - Attributed this to mood management Research Example – Mood and Music - Knobloch and Zillman - Asked to rate 20 men/women’s neutral expressions as a certain emotion o Some were given positive feedback as they went along, others got negative feedback, and some got no feedback - Next, they were asked to choose between 15 different songs and could listen for ten minutes while the researchers “prepared” - People who got negative feedback were more likely to listen to joyful, upbeat music Appeal of Sad Films - Downward Comparison (social comparison theory) o Someone evaluates themselves against a group with more serious troubles than their own – positive effects of comparisons o Sometimes makes us feel better to see others not doing so well - Meta-Emotions o Emotions about emotions o People just like to feel sad every once in a while Theories of Mass Communication Week 9 Disposition Theory - Important concept: Empathy o Empathy is being aware of and understanding feelings and thoughts of someone else o Think about when someone tells you positive news – they got engaged, got into med school, etc. – if you feel positive too then you are expressing empathy - How does empathy relate to mass communication? o Enjoyment of media content is a function of viewer’s emotional responses to characters and to those outcomes experienced by those characters o Enjoyment increases when:  Liked characters experience positive outcomes  Disliked characters have something bad happen to them o Enjoyment decreases when:  Liked characters experience negative outcomes  Disliked characters have good things happen to them  Woah no way didn’t expect these Affective Dispositions - Viewers form “alliances” with characters – you bond with them o Share in our favorite character’s successes o Doesn’t have to be with primary characters but it most often is o Despise and root against some characters - Feelings range o Extremely positive  Indifference  Extremely Negative o How you feel about a character may not always be constant o This will change as we judge the rightness and wrongness of character actions Model of Disposition Formation - Guess who studied this?  Zilllman! - Developed a seven step process 1. Perception and assessment – see what character does 2. Moral judgement – audience member judges actions of character as appropriate and moral or not 3. Affective disposition – for moral route, positive emotions develop; for amoral route, negative emotions develop 4. Apprehension/Anticipation – audience member hopes for positive outcome for moral character or a negative outcome for amoral character  Apprehension – you don’t want bad things to happen to good character and vice versa (worrying)  Anticipation – you want good things for good characters (what you want) 5. Perception/Assessment – audience member views outcomes and attaches some sort of emotion towards them Theories of Mass Communication Week 9 6. Response to outcomes – decides how they now feel about the character and story 7. Moral judgement – assessment of the entire media production; basically whether or not you approve of the story Back to Disposition Theory - Been applied to describe audience enjoyment for a variety of media content o Dramatic fiction o Crime dramas o Sports o News - Used in conjunction with: o Mood management o Selective exposure o Uses and gratifications o Parasocial interactions EXCITATION TRANSFER Primarily concerned with physiological arousal, basically the excitement and anticipation that someone gets from experiencing a piece of media. - Can manifest as speed up of heart rate, increased sweating, etc. - Often “labeled” based on context – mood labels how it is interpreted o When context is pleasurable  arousal is labeled as “pleasure” o More arousal = more pleasure - Can also be due to negative stimuli – labeled as “unhappiness” or “displeasure” - Suspense is successful if it is arousing - Arousal does not dissipate quickly – why? o Residual levels of arousal impact subsequent experiences o Ex: positive arousal will make the following experience more positive and vice versa with negative Research Examples - Advertisements and watching sitcoms o Groups of people watched a late 90s sitcom o There were three commercial breaks o People who had humorous ads rated the program more favorably o They thought the ads were funny  laughed and became excited/aroused  transferred those thoughts to the program - Web page downloads and website enjoyment o Longer a website takes to download, more chance for arousal to “ramp up” and increase  this was the researchers’ theory o Fast load group got a longer time to look at it; slow load group got shorter time to view the advertisement Theories of Mass Communication Week 9 o After they were taken to – people who were in slow load group clicked a lot more  Basically they took this to mean that their arousal was more increased Flow Theory This theory gives an understanding of the process by which certain behaviors make life more enjoyable - Example of a painter: explains how a painter can so thoroughly enjoy the process of painting and the psychological and emotional state that results - State of Flow: a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand o Block out outside world and focus on enjoyment Characteristics of Flow - Intense and focused concentration – nothing breaks attention - Loss of reflective self-consciousness – cannot take into account actions and reactions of people around us; we tune them out - Sense that one can control one’s actions – we know how to respond to whatever happens next - Distorted temporal experience – lose track of time - Experience of being in the state of flow is intrinsically rewarding – besides physically having something like artwork o Psychologically or cognitively rewarding o You feel good afterwards because it fills some sort of gratification or need Model of Flow Theory - When your skill/ability level matches the challenge level of the task, this is what is known as the flow zone o Ex: if you’re a college student reading preschool books, you might get bored because you’re at a different level o Ex: if you make a preschooler read a textbook they would become anxious and shut down - If you have a higher skill in a medium, then you will want higher level/difficulty in the medium Theories of Mass Communication Week 9 o Ex: print/books  someone higher in skill level will want to read something like Richard III rather than Harry Potter but there are still some aspects that could make them want to read HP o Ex: Disney movie vs. foreign film o Ex: for TV, you might be confused if you come in halfway through a show and become lost depending on the level of challenge of the show


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