Selective Exposure to Communication

By Dolf Henry Zillmann; Jennings P. Bryant | Go to book overview

3
Measuring Exposure to Television

James G. Webster University of Maryland

Jacob Wakshlag Indiana University

Exposure to television may well be the most extensively studied of all communication behaviors. For over 3 decades, rating services have regularly measured television audiences to satisfy the demands of those seeking to exploit the medium's commercial potential. Beyond such pragmatic and far-reaching efforts to document the extent of television viewership, scholars from a variety of disciplines have devoted considerable attention to assessing the uses and effects of exposure.

Given this wealth of research, one might imagine that the procedures for measuring exposure to television were well understood and universally applied in industry and academe alike. But this is not, in fact, the case. Exposure has been conceptualized in a number of ways, resulting in a wide range of operational definitions and an even wider array of measurement techniques. On the one hand, such diversity is an entirely appropriate reflection of the different theoretical assumptions and rationales of various research efforts. On the other hand, applying so many different approaches to measurement has made comparisons across studies difficult and has produced a rather confusing collection of results on the nature of exposure to television.

It is the purpose of this chapter to summarize and critique the methods that have been used, are being used, and can be used to measure exposure. Obviously, no single method of measurement will be appropriate to the objectives and resources of all researchers. We hope, however, that such a review will draw into sharper focus the strengths and weaknesses of different techniques and, so, encourage researchers to be more discerning in their application of these measures.

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Selective Exposure to Communication
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Selective-Exposure Phenomena 1
  • 2 - Cognitive Dissonance in Selective Exposure 11
  • References 31
  • 3 - Measuring Exposure to Television 35
  • References 58
  • 4 - Informational Utility and Selective Exposure to Entertainment Media 63
  • References 88
  • 5 - Determinants of Television Viewing Preferences 93
  • References 110
  • 6 - Thought and Action as Determinants of Media Exposure 113
  • References 136
  • 7 - Fear of Victimization and the Appeal of Crime Drama 141
  • References 154
  • 8 - Affect, Mood, and Emotion as Determinants of Selective Exposure 157
  • References 187
  • 9 - Selective Exposure to Educational Television 191
  • References 200
  • 10 - Cable and Program Choice 203
  • References 223
  • 11 - "Play It Again, Sam": Repeated Exposure to Television Programs 225
  • Acknowledgment 241
  • Author Index 243
  • Subject Index 249
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