Allison Eden, Ron Tamborini, Melinda Aley, and Henry Goble
This chapter describes the model of intuitive morality and exemplars (MIME), which examines connections between moral judgment and exposure to narrative media. The MIME explicates distinct, a priori–defined domains of moral intuitions that cut across cultural boundaries and identifies underlying processes that shape related social perceptions to describe how media and moral judgment are intertwined. The model’s dual-process perspective suggests some moral judgments are determined by quick gut reflexes and others by reflective deliberation. The MIME’s multistage process contains short-term and long-term components. The short-term component describes how exemplars that prime moral intuitions affect the appraisal of media content, which then prompts selective exposure to media that upholds primed intuitions. The long-term component describes how aggregate patterns of exposure to media that upholds primed intuitions encourages further (mass) production of content featuring those intuitions. This reciprocal process describes how media systems and audiences influence the salience of one another’s moral intuitions.
Annabell Halfmann and Leonard Reinecke
Although the concept of escapism is widely used in entertainment research, it lacks theoretical and empirical differentiation. Based on the transactional model of stress and coping, we extend previous attempts to conceptualize escapism as a form of emotion-focused avoidance coping. In contrast to the primarily negative connotation of escapism found in prior research, we propose that escapist entertainment use may be a functional coping strategy in some situations and may thus have beneficial effects on the well-being of media users. To develop and illustrate our perspective, we turn to binge-watching as a prominent example of escapist entertainment use. We show exemplarily how escapist binge-watching can contribute to recovery from stress and close our chapter with reflections on how to further develop escapism research.
Christoph Klimmt and Diana Rieger
If media audiences experience a message as meaningful, they display eudaimonic responses such as mixed affect and self-transcendence. The current contribution elaborates on the causes and manifestations of meaningfulness and argues that resonances between entertainment content (characters, situations, decisions, or metaphors) and audience members’ biographic memories—particular recollections of critical life incidents or life crisis—generate experiences of meaning. Such biographic resonance is suggested to cause eudaimonic entertainment, specifically mixed-affect experiences that combine negative feelings associated with the audience member’s past or current life crisis with hope and other-praising emotions that emerge from the inspiration and advice obtained from the entertainment message. This chapter formalizes biographic resonance theory as postulated interaction of message attributes and audience members’ biographies and develop programmatic perspectives on theory extensions and testing as well as implications for entertainment effects on human well-being at the population level.
A Brief Analysis of The State of Entertainment Theory: Historical Achievements, Contemporary Challenges, and Future Possibilities
Peter Vorderer, Christoph Klimmt, and Jennings Bryant
This chapter offers some historical and conceptual orientation to readers of the Oxford Handbook of Entertainment Theory. Departing from a brief review of ancient roots and twentieth-century pioneer works, we elaborate on the state and challenges of contemporary entertainment theory and research. This includes the need to develop a more explicit understanding of interrelationships among similar terms and concepts (e.g., “presence” and “transportation”), the need to reflect more explicitly on epistemological foundations of entertainment theories (e.g., neobehaviorism), and the need to reach back to past, even historical reasoning in communication that may be just as informative as the consideration of recent theoretical innovations from neighboring fields such as social psychology. Finally, we offer some reflections on programmatic perspectives for future entertainment theory, which should try to harmonize views from the social sciences and critical thinking, span cultural differences in entertainment processes, and keep track of the rapid technological progress of entertainment media.
Despite claims that “cinema is dead” or that it only interests nostalgic old-timers, statistics indicate a global increase in theater attendance. Not only is moviegoing still one of the favorite forms of entertainment, but it especially appeals to young people. Moreover, communication research seems to have neglected cinema, but the relationship between modern-day teenagers and the silver screen needs to be observed. This chapter reports the results of a cross-cultural study based on the uses and gratifications paradigm with youngsters from eight European countries. It presents their cinematographic uses and consumption, their motivations for going to the movies, and their preferences and conceptions regarding different movie traditions. The study also performs cross-cultural contrasts to reveal more about the impact of regional, national, and global forces on the psychological relationship between today’s teenagers and cinema.
Cooling Down or Charging Up?: Engagement with Aggressive Entertainment Contents as an Emotion Regulation Strategy of Boredom and Anger
Heidi Vandebosch and Karolien Poels
This chapter argues that the selection of, and engagement with, aggressive entertainment contents can be an emotion regulation strategy, or a way of influencing the nature, expression and intensity of an experienced emotion. It explains this in the context of two, often experienced, negative emotions that have been linked to aggression in the general emotion literature: anger and boredom. By first defining these two emotions and describing their typical action tendencies, it aims to show how the engagement with aggressive media content can be a way of regulating these emotions, sometimes in functional but also in dysfunctional ways. It thereby extends the scope from passively watching aggressive entertainment contents to actively participating and enjoying aggressive acts in the online environment (e.g., online bashing, trolling and cyberbullying).
This article studies Latin American film during the digital age and determines how much of its recent success in the global market is due to the arrival of new technology. It reveals that the technological advances arrived at time when Latin American industries experienced a critical period near the end of the 1980s. Nevertheless, these technologies soon helped in the marketing of Latin American cinema worldwide and provided new levels of technical finesse. The next sections look at the technological transition of Latin American film to digital, and identify the different trends in style and narrative that were used by Latin American filmmakers.
Daniel Possler and Arthur A. Raney
Anecdotal evidence suggests that fascination, amazement, and wonder are regular audience responses to entertainment fare and substantially fuel users’ entertainment experiences. However, so far entertainment theory has largely overlooked these states. This chapter attempts to conceptually describe these experiences with the emotion awe and offers a case for awe as an important element in media entertainment. In a first step, it models conceptual relationships between awe and both hedonic and eudaimonic entertainment experiences. In a second step, it systematically discusses what entertainment fare is capable to elicit awe. To do so, it draws on appraisal theories of emotion and distinguishes different levels of media use, stimuli, processes, and preconditions likely involved in the elicitation of awe during media use. Its model shows that awe is potentially experienced frequently during the reception of many forms of media and is able to contribute substantially to media users’ entertainment responses.
This chapter aims to differentiate between two kinds of media use experiences that in the past twenty some years have uniformly been labeled entertainment experiences. In the background of four identified fundamental assumptions in entertainment theory (entertainment as reception phenomenon, disparity between what media users want and what they should want, entertainment between approaching and avoiding affective states, entertainment as self-transcendence) media experiences are dichotomized between those that serve users’ hedonic motivations, needs, and interests and others, more fundamental experiences of resonance (which in the recent past have often been labeled eudaimonic) that connect users to the content of a media narrative and ultimately changes them. The argument is made here for communication scholars and media psychologists to refer to entertainment experiences only in the first case in order to be less vague and ambiguous in explicating entertainment theory.
Entertainment in Virtual Reality and Beyond: The Influence of Embodiment, Co-Location, and Cognitive Distancing on Users’ Entertainment Experience
Tilo Hartmann and Jesse Fox
Recently, virtual reality (VR) has emerged, but a conceptual framework explicating potential foundational pillars of VR entertainment is still missing. The present chapter aims to fill this gap by introducing, based on a review of the related literature, such a conceptual framework. It proposes that the typical VR experience is characterized by the interaction of three core mechanisms or affordances (that, albeit in different constellations and to a different degree, also underlie other media channels), namely a profound sense of embodiment, spatial presence or a sense of physical co-location of other entities and events, and users’ cognitive distancing. It argues that these factors jointly affect the extent users experience VR as immediately self-relevant and consequential. By linking these three foundational pillars of the VR experience to users’ entertainment experience and related research on media entertainment, it derives five propositions about entertainment in VR (and other channels that support these affordances).
Andreas Fahr and Hannah Früh
This chapter takes a process view of the entertainment experience by discussing how one can define an experience as a process and how media experience processes contribute to entertainment. Against the background of general theories about time, process, and measurement, an entertainment process is conceptualized as a set of characteristic sequences of intelligibly connected events based on specific rules and parameters of time. These characteristic events could be seen as entertainment experiences themselves, but they also contribute to a final evaluation after media exposure. Although most communication scholars concur that entertainment has processual aspects and therefore measure responses or experiences during exposure, a perspective on the process as a whole (i.e., its time dependency and consequences) is rarely investigated. Therefore, the process perspective is analyzed using a number of entertainment theories. This research posits that entertainment theories as well as the measurement of entertainment processes could benefit from a more detailed exposition about the theoretical assumptions on the shape of a process.
Meghan S. Sanders, Chun Yang, Anthony Ciaramella, Rachel Italiano, Stephanie L. Whitenack, and Hope M. Hickerson
Over the past decade and a half, scholarship in media psychology has significantly expanded to investigate the role entertainment media and experiences play in encouraging audiences to think more deeply, feel inspired, encourage prosocialness, and otherwise serve in the interest of social good. Many scholars suggest that media, including entertainment, are a significant cultural force in that they can articulate identities and values of a culture, but also serve as sites where these same values and identities are discussed and challenged. Much content presents narratives that discuss some of the toughest challenges faced by organizations, governments, and societies. This chapter introduces the term “socially conscious entertainment” (SCE), discussing its similarities with meaningful and hedonic entertainment experiences, entertainment-education, and various theoretical frameworks from which to examine its usefulness in prompting audiences to challenge existing social attitudes.
Felix Reer, Robin Janzik, Lars-Ole Wehden, and Thorsten Quandt
Discussions about unhealthy, addictive forms of media entertainment use have a long-lasting tradition. While early debates focused on traditional media, namely, excessive television viewing or book reading, current discourses primarily concern the disordered use of digital media, such as computer games or social networking sites. From a theoretical perspective, existing research on media addictions is rather underdeveloped and falls short in explaining underlying mechanisms. The current chapter aims at filling this gap by referring to established entertainment theories. Classical hedonic and new two-factorial approaches are considered to deepen the understanding of how joyful, recreational media use may shift to pathological, discorded usage patterns. Finally, an integrative framework of media entertainment overuse (the “pentagon model”) is suggested that may serve as a basis for future theoretical considerations and empirical studies.
An Extended Dual-Process Model of Entertainment Effects on Political Information Processing and Engagement
Frank M. Schneider, Anne Bartsch, and Larissa Leonhard
This chapter reviews the controversial relationship of entertainment and political communication and presents a theoretical framework to integrate seemingly contradicting concepts and research findings. On the one hand, concerns have been raised about the decay of news quality and political culture due to the growing influence of entertainment media. On the other, researchers have highlighted the potential of entertainment in terms of audience interest, cognitive accessibility, and public outreach. A literature overview shows theoretical and empirical support for both sides of the controversy about the (dys)functionality of entertainment in political communication. Therefore, in an attempt to reconcile the divergent findings, the chapter presents an extended dual-process model of entertainment effects on political information processing and engagement. This framework offers substantial extensions to existing dual-process models of entertainment by conceptualizing the effects of entertainment on different forms of political engagement that have not been incorporated so far.
Gerald C. Cupchik, Despina Stamatopoulou, and Siying Duan
This chapter is about meaningful connection in media entertainment in relation to the concept of resonance during an era of social and technological acceleration. A hierarchical model is proposed with a desire for pleasure at the concrete foundation and an aesthetic appreciation of meaning at the more abstract and universal level. This range of experience is examined in the context of Greek and Chinese thinking about resonance. For Ancient Greeks, resonance describes interpretative and expressive events where concrete bodily and immersive practices shape experiences that may have ethical and sociopolitical effects. In Plato, it branched into (1) passive reception that mirrors a copy and offers no direct access to truth but might merely condition a person or (2) a communion that reveals the ideal. Aristotle stressed the dynamics of resonance in theater to build a relatively autonomous agent who appreciates and reflects on ways that causes affect human action in the social world. In the Chinese part of this chapter, we examine scholarship related to the concept of resonance during the Six Dynasties period (220–589 CE) as well as its intellectual roots from Confucianism and Daoism. Major issues explored include: the function of resonance in artistic creation and appreciation as well as its social function from a Confucian perspective; the method that helps people experience resonance with nature or cosmos from a Daoist perspective; and finally, the concept of vital energy across the cosmos which facilitates the more profound experience of resonance.
Frank M. Schneider, Ines C. Vogel, Uli Gleich, and Anne Bartsch
Most people have one or more favorite pieces of media entertainment (e.g., movies, TV shows, novels, video games), and some personal candidates for the worst of them ever. But how exactly are such evaluative judgments formed? What are the underlying psychological processes of media entertainment evaluations? And why do we sometimes feel that the heart and mind are in conflict about those evaluations? To cover the whole complexity of individual media entertainment ratings, this chapter applies the associative–propositional evaluation (APE) model to the case of movie evaluation processes before, during, and after exposure. After defining evaluation and introducing the APE model, it discusses its theoretical and methodological implications for movies and entertainment research. Moreover, it highlights similarities and differences concerning common related concepts (e.g., enjoyment).
How Universal Is Media Entertainment, Really? On the Enriching Potential of Cross-Cultural Approaches for Existing Entertainment Scholarship
The current chapter focuses on the (cross-)cultural appeal of existing entertainment theories, showcasing the meager evidence that exists with respect to their universality. The central argument throughout the chapter is that most entertainment theories have originated in the Western world and little has so far been done to apply them to the much larger rest of the world. The rest of the world has shown to be profoundly different, however, with respect to various dimensions of human behavior and cognition, including self-concepts, emotion appraisal and display, valued affect, thinking styles, values, and well-being maxims. The chapter scrutinizes five pertinent entertainment theories for their ability to explain this cultural variation. It suggests the inclusion of fruitful macro- and micro-level concepts from cross-cultural psychology and intercultural communication to increase their global explanatory power. The main aim of the current chapter is to spark an overdue (cross-)cultural evolution of media entertainment scholarship.
Through most of the twentieth century, psychologists were the preeminent theorists of humor. Since the late twentieth century, linguists, neuroscientists, and computer scientists have also addressed the subject. This chapter presents classic theories of humor—relief/arousal, superiority/disparagement, and incongruity theories, including recent neuroimaging research—followed by an overview of linguistic and semantic theories. The field of computational humor is described, including humor during human–artificial intelligence interaction. The uses and effects of humor are summarized in the areas of education, advertising, and health. Although humor and laughter may not always improve learning, persuasion, or physical health they can enhance the credibility of the communicator and improve the quality of life.
Nicholas David Bowman
The interactive nature of video games has perpetually drawn the focus of game developers and game scholars alike—the former eager to create immersive and involving digital worlds to shock and awe players, and the latter eager to understand the potential for powerful effects stemming from this immersion and involvement. Yet as video games evolve in terms of their technology and their content, the relationship between the player and the system becomes increasingly complex. This dialogue demands near-constant attention from the players, and these demands exist on at least four dimensions: cognitive, emotional, physical, and social. In the present chapter, these four demands are explicated, theoretically and empirically positioned as entertaining in their own right, and discussed as important mediators of media entertainment experiences.
William J. Brown
In the ubiquitous mediated world in which we live, we daily encounter mediated personalities derived from both real people and fictional characters. These personalities, referred to as media personae, can captivate our attention, induce our involvement, and influence our values, beliefs, and behavior. This chapter considers four distinct and yet closely related processes through which audiences become involved with media personae, identified as transportation, parasocial interaction, identification, and worship. The entertainment experiences of media consumers through these four involvement processes and the implications of these experiences in an increasingly socially mediated world are discussed.