Uses and Gratification Theory
In the late 1930s and the early 1940s, quiz shows were popular with radio, and Herza Herzog asked the simple question of why this kind of show appealed to a wide variety of people. In asking this question, Herzog countered the assumption of mass society and strong effects on audiences and considered the notion that audience members might listen to a radio show for different reasons such as.
Thus in the 1940s researchers were beginning to ask question about how the needs and desires of the audience might influence the effect of mass media programming. Swanson (1992) has labeled early researches such as Herzog’s (1941 - 1944) as the first phase in the development of the uses and gratifications approach and has noted three attributes of this research that were important in leading to the theoretical framework developed later.
- This research introduces the idea of an active audience, in which individuals have their own reason for accessing the media.
- This research began to conceive of these audience motives as gratifications that were obtained by individuals from the media.
- Research in this tradition highlighted the ability of audience members provide useful information about their motives and desires with regard to the media.
What gratifications are Sought and Obtained from the Media?
According the Palmgreen, 1984, most of these studies have relied on self-reports of audience members, gratifications have also been used, though observational and experimental techniques for assessing audience. A variety of typologies of gratifications have been proposed, one of which is presented in Table 14.1.
Two theoretical developments are particularly noteworthy.
1. The lists of needs can be divided into fundamentally different types of gratifications.
- content/process gratifications
- cognitive/affective gratification
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