Selective Exposure to Communication

By Dolf Henry Zillmann; Jennings P. Bryant | Go to book overview
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guidance motives are generally moderate in importance, ranking below enjoyment-oriented reasons. Among the utilities studied, message selection in order to learn subject matter for interpersonal communication is most central.

Individuals also choose entertainment content as a means of reinforcing or defending predispositions. Correlational data indicate that aggressive persons seek out violent television programming and that sociopolitical attitudes shape preferences for radio music and televised sports; moral-religious values are related to exposure patterns to content such as sexual depictions. The degree of association is moderately strong in most cases. To a limited extent, racial and occupational attitudes appear to influence choices of television programs portraying those social roles. Self-report data show that television viewers exhibit a moderate tendency to select depictions of social roles and behaviors for purposes of supporting predispositions, but selective avoidance of discrepant content is less widespread.

Although the evidence currently available is far from definitive and the degree of importance of utilitarian determinants is far from powerful, it can be tentatively concluded that guidance- and reinforcement-oriented selective exposure to entertainment media occurs to a modest extent. Future research is needed to assess the strength of various types of instrumental motivations and to specify the conditions under which anticipated utilities influence message choices in the entertainment domain.


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