Determinants of Television Viewing Preferences
Barrie Gunter Independent Broadcasting Authority
This chapter examines survey and experimental evidence for selective exposure to and preferences for television programming. This evidence is both behavioral and attitudinal, and it relates viewing behaviors and program preferences to a variety of psychological characteristics of viewers including personality factors, values, and beliefs. The chapter is divided into three main sections. The first section examines behavioral evidence for selectivity of viewing based on television diaries and meter measures of what people watch. This research has been conducted with large representative national and regional samples in the United Kingdom, and it ties in with recent American work on selective exposure to television, which has also used behavioral measures of viewing ( Gensch & Raganathan, 1980; Headen, Klompmaker, & Rust, 1979; Wakshlag, Agostino, Terry, Driscoll, & Ramsey, 1983). The second section reports survey evidence from the United Kingdom in which respondents' beliefs and personality characteristics have been related to diary measures of television viewing. This work has attempted to uncover links between the psychological makeup of individuals and what they choose to watch on television. The third section reports findings collected from smaller groups of people in experimental settings in which they have provided evaluative judgments about different kinds of program materials shown to them during the study. Measures of personality, values, and beliefs were related to program evaluations and preferences to indicate relationships between program appreciation or nonappreciation and psychological traits of individuals.