Media Entertainment: The Psychology of Its Appeal

By Dolf Zillmann; Peter Vorderer | Go to book overview

the historical moment, thereby drawing attention. The salience of the work may be one-dimensional or easily analyzed so that recipients can readily understand it. In this way, bodily feelings of pleasure and excitement or calm can be experienced more easily than the deeper emotions evoked by complex works. When the features of a work are salient relative to the dimensions of bodily response, it is also easier to select works that modulate mood states. These kinds of contingencies make for a more superficial relationship between aesthetic appreciation and personal response. The Popular Culture-reaction-modulation combination facilitates the transformation of feelings.

In summary, this chapter has attempted its own version of unity-in-diversity based on the notion that different psychological theories can be seen as appropriate for different circumstances. One line of theorizing touches on the problem of finding meaning both in works of art, literature, media, and so on, and in one's own life. It is argued here that the two ways of finding meaning are intimately related in the aesthetic context. A second line of theorizing is more sensitive to bodily states and desires, which can be accommodated by different kinds of aesthetic and media stimuli. Not surprisingly, the principles of behaviorism seem to apply here.

And still we are left with a tantalizing paradox. Although the aesthetic attitude of the revolutionary artist may focus on the development of original style, the door is open for the seemingly accidental selection of subject matter. How convenient that sensual desires might be sublimated by the depiction of nudes in the Baroque or Rococo styles. Conversely, when attention is paid to the accurate rendering of the subject (a figure) in a sculpture, emotion might unconsciously and inadvertently leak out when the artist powerfully squeezes the soft clay. The complementary relations between these two constellations, High Culture-reflectionmatching and Popular Culture-reaction-modulation, remain to be explored.


REFERENCES

Adorno, T.( 1950). "A social critique of radio music". In B. Berelson and M. Jarowitz (Eds.), Reader in public opinion and communication (pp. 309-316). Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

Anderson, D. R., Collins, P. A., Schmitt, K. L, & Jacobvitz, R. S.( 1996). "Stressful life events and television viewing". Communication Research, 23, 243-260.

Bartlett, F. C.( 1932). Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Benjamin, W.( 1967). "The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction". In H. Arendt (Ed.), Illuminations (pp. 217-251). New York: Schocken Books. (transl. by Harry Zohn) Berger, A. A.( 1980). Television as an instrument of terror: Essays on media, popular culture, and everyday life. New Brunswick, NJ: Transactions Books.

Berlyne; D. E.( 1971). Aesthetics and psychobiology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Berlyne, D. E.( 1974). The new experimental aesthetics: Steps toward an objective psychology of aesthetic appreciation. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.

Bryant, J., & Zillmann, D.( 1984). "Using television to alleviate boredom and stress: Selective exposure as a function of induced excitational states". Journal of Broadcasting, 28( 1), 1-20.

Bullough, E.( 1912). ' "Psychical distance' as a factor in art and as an aesthetic principle". British Journal of Psychology, 5, 87-98.

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Media Entertainment: The Psychology of Its Appeal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - The Coming of Media Entertainment 1
  • References 18
  • 2 - Interactive Entertainment and Beyond 21
  • References 34
  • 3 - Humor and Comedy 37
  • References 54
  • 4 - Conflict and Suspense in Drama 59
  • References 70
  • 5 - Violence, Mayhem, and Horror 73
  • References 88
  • 6 - Sex on Entertainment Television 93
  • References 109
  • 7 - Affect-Talk and Its Kin 113
  • Acknowledgment 131
  • References 131
  • 8 - Children's Likes and Dislikes of Entertainment Programs 135
  • References 149
  • 9 - Sports on the Scree 153
  • References 172
  • 10 - Music and Music Videos 175
  • References 193
  • 11 - Video Games and the Pleasure of Control 197
  • References 212
  • 12 - The Respondent Gender Gap 215
  • References 230
  • 13 - Personality and Entertainment Preferences 235
  • References 245
  • 14 - The Aesthetics of Media Fare 249
  • References 262
  • Author Index 265
  • Subject Index 279
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