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Bartsch, Anne and Hartmann, Tilo (2017): The role of cognitive and affective challenge in entertainment experience. In: Communication Research, Vol. 44, No. 1: pp. 29-53 [PDF, 230kB]


Recent approaches in entertainment research highlight the distinction between hedonic (pleasure-seeking) and eudaimonic (truth-seeking) entertainment experiences. However, insights into the underlying processes that give rise to these different types of entertainment experiences are still scarce. This study examines the assumption that individuals’ entertainment experience varies by the level of cognitive and affective challenge posed by the media content. We tested this assumption in a 2 × 2 experiment in which we examined the effects of cognitive and affective challenge on individuals’ entertainment experience (fun, suspense, and appreciation). Cognitive and affective challenges resulted in stronger appreciation of the movie, affective challenges resulted in heightened suspense, whereas the absence of both cognitive and affective challenges fostered the experience of fun. These results further the theoretical understanding of hedonic and eudaimonic entertainment in that they support the idea that fun is linked to recreation, whereas appreciation is linked to cognitive challenge and personal growth.

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