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Bartsch, Anne (2012): Emotional gratification in entertainment experience. Why viewers of movies and television series find it rewarding to experience emotions. In: Media Psychology, Vol. 15, No. 3: pp. 267-302




This article presents four studies designed to assess different types of gratifications that can be associated with the experience of emotions in movie and television audiences. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses of a pool of statements derived from qualitative interviews revealed three factors that reflect rewarding feelings: 1) fun, 2) thrill, and 3) empathic sadness, and four factors that reflect the role of emotional media experiences within the broader context of individuals' social and cognitive needs: 4) contemplative emotional experiences, 5) emotional engagement with characters, 6) social sharing of emotions, and 7) vicarious release of emotions. Validation analyses showed that the scales developed to assess these factors are predicted by the experience of emotions and meta-emotions and served in turn to predict different aspects of positive content evaluation. Results are discussed with regard to theoretical issues including entertainment audiences' voluntary exposure to unpleasant feelings, and the role of entertainment in psychosocial need satisfaction and eudaimonic wellbeing.