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Bartsch, Anne; Appel, Markus; Storch, Dennis (2010): Predicting emotions and meta-emotions at the movies. The role of the need for affect in audiences' experience of horror and drama. In: Communication Research, Vol. 37, No. 2: pp. 167-190

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Audiences are attracted to dramas and horror movies even though negative and ambivalent emotions are likely to be experienced. Research into the seemingly paradoxical enjoyment of this kind of media entertainment has typically focused on gender- and genre-specific needs and viewing motivations. Extending this line of research, the authors focus the role of the need for affect as a more general, gender- and genre-independent predictor of individual differences in the experience of emotions and meta-emotions (i.e., evaluative thoughts and feelings about one’s emotions). The article discusses a field study of moviegoers who attended the regular screening of a drama or a horror film. Results support the assumption that individuals high in need for affect experience higher levels of negative and ambivalent emotions and evaluate their emotions more positively on the level of meta-emotions. Controlling for the Big Five personality factors does not alter these effects. The results are discussed within an extended meta-emotion framework.