Refining a Uses and Gratification Scale
for Television Viewing
Jennifer Greer, Cyndi Frisby and David Harris Halpern
Assistant Professor, University of Nevada
Reynolds School of Journalism
Mail Stop 310
University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557-0040
[log in to unmask]
Doctoral Students, University of Florida
College of Journalism and Communications
2000 Weimer Hall
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
Submission to the Theory & Methodology Division of AEJMC, 1997
Refining a Uses and Gratification Scale for Television Viewing
To create a more sensitive instrument for testing uses and gratifications,
Conway and Rubin's 1991 general television viewing scale was refined and tested
with 289 subjects who completed the scale for 10 different program types.
Researchers found that the six dimensions identified for television viewing in
general did not hold across various program types. The research produces
refined scales that could better test the gratifications being met for each
program type as opposed to the medium as a whole.
In the past two decades, mass communications researchers have increasingly
turned to the uses and gratifications model as an alternative to persuasion
models. Instead of focusing on how media messages shape attitudes and
behaviors, a growing number of researchers now focus on how individuals use
media to meet their needs and achieve their goals. Theory building in uses and
gratifications, which began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, has produced a
generally accepted uses and gratifications model. In the model, social
environmentDincluding group affiliations and personality
characteristicsDtogether with an individual's needsDsuch as cognitive and
affective needsDdrive an individual to use mass media to achieve personal
gratifications, which include entertainment and social relationships (Tan,
1981). Uses and gratifications research has shifted the focus for some
researchers from what the media do to people to what people do with the media
(Rubin, 1994). This model stresses individual use and choice to explain media
impact "in terms of the purposes, functions or uses (that is, uses and
gratifications) as controlled by the choice patterns of receivers" (Fisher,
1978, p. 159). In short, audiences select media and content based on their
evaluation of their need gratifications.
Uses and gratifications research has progressed in the past 20 years, mainly in
the media gratifications portions of the model. For example, Katz, Gurevitch,
and Haas (1973) identified three mass media use variables which can lead to
media gratifications: media content, such as news programs, soap operas and the
like; media attributes, for example print versus broadcast; and exposure
situation, such as viewing alone or with others. More recent research examines
how social environments relate to gratifications produced. However, this
research is still in its infancy. Ferguson, Cho, Darlington and Valenti (1991)
found only two studies that attempted to link psychological origins to
gratifications. Conway and Rubin (1991) found that uses and gratifications
research often has failed to link media gratifications with their social and
psychological origins. These studies sought to test psychological antecedents
in relation to television viewing gratification.
In their attempt to make this link, Conway and Rubin (1991) measured motives
for watching television and psychological variables. In constructing a scale to
measure viewing motives, they relied on two established scales from earlier
studies, a 27-item scale developed by Rubin (1981), which included three
statements each to tap nine viewing motives, and a four-item scale developed by
Frank and Greenberg (1980, 1982) to measure Status-enhancement as a viewing
Subjects in Conway and Rubin's study were given a list of motives for viewing
television and were asked to answer how much each statement matched their own
reasons for watching television. Choices ranged from not at all (1) to exactly
(5). After a varimax-rotated principal components analysis of responses to the
31 viewing motive statements, Conway and Rubin retained 20 statements, which
loaded into six factors: Pass-time, Entertainment, Information, Escape,
Relaxation, and Status-enhancement. The authors did not report a reliability
for the scale, but the six constructs explained 60 percent of the total
Rationale for further scale development
While Conway and Rubin's viewing motivation scale begins to explain what
motivates people to watch television, the measure applies only to television
viewing in general. In the study, subjects responded to the statement "I watch
television . . . to get away from what I'm doing," for example, citing an Escape
motive. Respondents were asked to explain why they watch television in general,
not why they watch different types of programming. The research could be
furthered by examining why different personality types watch the types of
television programming that they do. In other words, do differences in
personality explain program choice and media gratification patterns? To answer
this question, this research is designed to develop a uses and gratifications
scale that could be used to measure different types of television programming.
This paper tests established uses and gratifications scales with 20 different
television programming types to determine whether viewer needs vary depending on
According to Perse and Courtright (1993), uses and gratifications research
"views people as active communicators because they are aware of their needs,
evaluate various communication channels and content, and select the mass media
or interpersonal channel that they believe will provide the gratifications they
seek" (pg. 485). Some researchers have taken this perspective to mean that
individuals select different mediums to meet certain needs (Conway & Rubin,
1991; Perse & Courtright, 1993; Cowles, 1993). Within this paradigm,
researchers look for overriding gratifications that arise from using a single
communication source (Rubin, 1983; Lometti, Reeves, & Bybee, 1977; Payne,
Severn, & Dozier, 1993). Other research has compared motives across media,
producing comparative analysis of how different media satisfy different needs
and wants (Cohen, Levy, & Golden, 1988; Lichtenstein & Rosenfeld, 1983, 1984).
Some recent research and not so recent research, however, suggests that
individual communication mediums may hold several uses, each with different
potential gratifications, instead of just one overriding use with multiple
gratifications within that one use. Even before researchers had formally
conceptualized uses and gratifications, researchers such as Lazarsfeld, and
Herzog were examining the appeals of different types of radio programs (see
Rubin, 1994, for a review of early research on media-use typologies.) More
recently, Perse & Courtright (1993) discuss "newer" communication technologies,
suggesting that computers with educational software could fill learning needs
while games software could fill Entertainment needs. Applying the same
rationale to television, it is likely that different programming (like the
computer's software) could fill an individual's varying needs. For instance,
news could meet different needs than situation comedies. While some needs may
overlap among different shows, the primary gratifications derived could be
In constructing their scale, Conway and Rubin (1991) clearly defined uses and
gratifications as the broad idea under study and the six motivations for
television viewing as their constructs. However, different types of television
programming could be representing different constructs entirely, which points
out one of the main problems with uses and gratifications as a theory. Critics
contend the theory and the research it produces is too broad and results in
findings not specific enough to be of use. Examining types of television
programming as the construct and thinking of the six motivations for viewing as
dimensions of these constructs could produce a more sensitive measuring
instrument. With that thinking in mind, the researchers set out to refine the
uses and gratifications scale for television viewing. Although there was
insufficient prior research to form hypotheses, the researchers expected that
different television programming types would correlate with different viewing
motivations. The researchers also expected that no single program type would
contain all six of the factors identified by Conway and Rubin. While Conway and
Rubin's general motivation scale broke into six motivation categories,
researchers expected that a more discriminating scale would produce different
factors for each type of program. This sensitivity would allow future
researchers to examine gratifications associated with specific program types.
For example, a study on talk show viewing might only examine three motivation
groups, while a study on watching television movies might examine five
First, Conway and Rubin's general television viewing scale was broken into 10
separate subscales. Each subscale was designed to measure motivations for
watching a different program type. Based on previous research of 312 subjects'
remote control use (Frisby, 1991), 10 program types were identified: nightly
news, soap operas, music videos, situation comedies, television magazine shows,
real-life drama, talk shows, sports, movies, and drama.
A survey instrument was developed listing the 10 program types. The
researchers designed the questionnaire so that people who never watched the one
of the types could skip to the next viewing category. The questionnaire
instructed subjects to first respond to the statement "I never watch the news"
(or other program type). If they agreed with that statement, they were
instructed to skip to the next program type. Subjects who did not agree were
asked to complete a 22-item scale for that program type, starting with the
statement "I watch soap operas" (or other program type) "because ..." With 22
statements for each program type, the total uses and gratifications portion of
the questionnaire included 220 items. However, subjects responded to only a
portion of the total scale, depending on their personal viewing habits.
The same 22 viewing motivation statements were listed for each of the 10
program types. (Appendix A lists the 22 items asked for each program type in the
order they were asked on the questionnaire.) These statements closely mirrored,
but did not exactly replicate, the 20 statements in Conway and Rubin's general
viewing motivation scale (1991). A few modifications were made to the scale to
make it better reflect changes to the scale as it evolved in other research.
The modifications mainly involved dropping items Rubin had dropped in further
scale development. The six motivation categories (Pass-time, Entertainment,
etc.) were maintained, but two of Conway and Rubin's statements were eliminated
and four new statements were added to increase the number of items for each
category. The Escape category, with three statements, and the Relaxation
category, with two statements, remained unchanged. One statement in the
Pass-time categoryD"there's no one else to talk or be with"D was eliminated
because Rubin dropped it in later research. This left the Pass-time category
with four statements. One statement Rubin later added for the Entertainment
categoryD"they're dramatic"Dalso was added to the revised scale, for a total of
five statements in that group. In the four-item Information category, one
statementD"know others have the same problem"Dwas left out, and a new
statementD"I get information about important issues and events"Dwas added. This
change was prompted by Rubin's earlier work (1983). Finally, an item was added
in the Status-enhancement categoryD"They give me things to talk about with my
family and friends"Dto bring the total number of statements in the group to
To control for order effects that could lead to response bias, the 22
statements were randomly listed using a random-number table. Once the sequence
was established for the 22-item scale, the order was maintained for each of the
10 program types. Respondents were asked to check boxes next to each statement
on a four-point Likert scale ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly
disagree." Because a "neutral" or "don't know option" might weaken the results,
researchers forced respondents chose take either an agree or disagree posture on
The viewing scale was administered to subjects in conjunction with a research
project designed to test links of personality traits and motivations for
television viewing. A survey format was used with self-report questionnaires,
which past research has shown to be useful in analyzing viewing motives and
psychological variables (Rubin, 1981). The survey format also was selected
because it is the most common methodology for uses and gratifications research
and because Conway and Rubin tested their basic scale with a survey.
Questionnaires were distributed to undergraduate students, graduate students,
staff, and faculty at a large state university. Those subjects attended classes
or worked in the colleges of journalism, education, or agriculture. Surveys were
also distributed to workers at a local Veterans Administration Hospital and in
local neighborhoods. The length of the questionnaire, which contained nearly
275 items, did not seem to be a problem for most subjects. All subjects
completed the form within 20 minutes. The rapid completion of the form was most
likely due to the option to skip an entire viewing categories on the uses and
gratification scale if a subject did not watch that program type. Subjects on
average answered questions for six of the viewing categoriesDor about 132 scale
questionsDinstead of the 220 items they would have to answer if they completed
the full scale. (Only 18 respondents answered all 220 items, while two
respondents said they didn't watch any of the program types. The vast majority
of respondents answered five, six or seven of the subscales.)
The survey produced 289 completed, usable questionnaires. Subject ages ranged
from 18 to 68, and the average age was nearly 26. More than half of the
subjects, however, were 21 years old or younger. Subjects were evenly divided
by gender, with about 47 percent male and 53 percent female. The vast majority
of respondents, 231, reported their race as Caucasian, followed by 18 Hispanics
and 15 African-Americans. The remaining 25 respondents indicated that they were
of another race or ethnicity not specifically listed on the form. All but six
subjects said they had education beyond high school. The largest educational
level was the "some college" category, with 181 responses. Students represented
the largest occupation classification, with 160 subjects identifying themselves
as students and 17 as graduate students. The largest non-student occupation
class was professional, which included teachers, lawyers, engineers, and the
like. Other occupations listed by subjects included sales, clerical, service,
administrator, and homemaker. The subjects reported personal income ranging
from $0 to $90,000, although 27 subjects declined to answer the question. The
mean income was $11,727 and the median was $6,000. These numbers were surely
deflated by the 93 subjectsDmost likely college studentsDwho listed a personal
income of $0.
Reliability for scale by types of programming
Once the data was entered, reliabilities were run on each subscale (the 22
items for each of the 10 program types). Each of the 10 scales showed a
reliability of alpha > .86, and reliabilities were as high as alpha > .92,
reported for the complete talk show scale With 22 items for each program type,
the high reliabilities were not surprising. The item-total correlations were
acceptable for all items in all scales. Only one Information item on one of
the constructs (news shows) has a negative item-total correlation (r = -.05).
Next, a factor analysis was performed to test the researchers' expectation that
different program types would produce different dimensions of each viewing
construct. A varimax rotation was used to minimize the number of variables that
had high loadings on a factor and enhance the interpretation of the factors. As
expected, the 10 different program types showed different factor loadings. None
of the program subscales loaded into the six factors identified by Conway and
Rubin. Situation comedies and movies loaded into three factors; soap operas,
music videos, talk shows, sports, and dramas loaded into four factors; and news
programs, real-life dramas, and television magazine shows loaded into five
Preliminary data analysis showed support the researchers' expectations that
separate uses and gratifications dimensions would emerge when each of the 10
types of television programs was treated as a separate construct. To further
analyze the data, the researchers examined what was occurring within each
construct (program types) and each of the dimensions (the six motivations).
First, the 10 constructs was examined separately to determine which of the 22
items didn't work for each viewing category. Internal analyses were performed
for each program type on the six uses and gratifications dimensions identified
by past research. Reliabilities for the theoretically proposed dimensions
revealed possible "bad items" that could be removed to improve internal
consistency. (Table 1 lists Cronbach's alpha scores for all of the six
previously defined dimensions within each viewing construct.)
Next, the actual factors that emerged for each program type were examined for
internal consistency. This analysis was designed to test the researchers
expectations that separate reliable dimensions would emerge for each program
type. A reliability analysis was run for each clear factor that emerged within
each of the 10 program types. As expected, the program types produced some
internally cohesive dimensions distinct from the six motivations identified in
Conway and Rubin's previous research on television viewing in general. (Table 2
lists Cronbach's alpha scores for all of the new dimensions that emerged when
analyzing items for within each viewing construct.) News shows: All of the six
motivation categories were reliable except Information and Status-enhancement,
each of which fell below the generally accepted standard of alpha > .70.
Dropping single items did not improve either of the dimensions.
The factor analysis loaded items on to five factors, but only three of the
dimensions that emerged proved reliable. The news viewing scale showed an
Entertainment/Relaxation dimension (alpha = .82), which included all but the
"It's dramatic" of the Entertainment items and both Relaxation items. A second
factor included all of the four Pass-time items and proved reliable (alpha =
.84). A third factor, which included all three Escape items, also emerged as
reliable (alpha = .75). Three Information items and two Status-enhancement
items loaded together, but this dimension did not prove reliable (alpha = .65).
A final factor, which included three items from different dimensions, also was
not reliable (alpha = .63). The other items, which loaded across several of the
dimensions, also were discarded. This was the case when analyzing the factor
loadings for all other television programs.
Therefore, researchers using this refined uses and gratifications scale for
television news viewing should anticipate three dimensions:
Entertainment/Relaxation, Pass-time, and Escape. Because theory and common
sense suggest that Information and Status-enhancement should be important
motivator for watching news shows, perhaps new scale items should be developed
to test news programs on these dimensions.
Soap operas: The Status-enhancement dimension showed weak reliability (alpha =
.66) for soap operas. If one item was deleted from the construct, "it gives me
something to talk about with my family and friends," the reliability would be
improved to alpha = .78. This is consistent with the factor analysis, which
showed that all of the Status-enhancement items loaded together except this
item. The item-total correlation for the item was low (r = .24) compared to the
dimension's other items, which showed item-total correlations of greater than r
= .5. All other dimensions for soap operas seemed reliable at alpha > .70.
The factor analysis produced four dimensions. All five Entertainment items and
both Relaxation items loaded as one reliable dimension (alpha = .85). All
Information and three of the four Status-enhancement items loaded together on a
second reliable dimension (alpha = .87). The four Pass-time items again loaded
as a distinct factor, which proved reliable (alpha = .84). A fourth factor
contained only one Escape item, "I can get away from the rest of my family ...",
and was therefore discarded.
Future research using this refined scale for soap opera viewing should produce
three dimensions: Entertainment/Relaxation, Information/Status-enhancement, and
Reality shows: Findings here mirrored those for news shows, with both the
Information and Status-enhancement dimensions each showing low reliability. The
Information dimension cannot be improved by removing any single item. However,
if the "I feel more important" item is removed from the status-enhancement
dimension, internal consistency improves to alpha = .72. All of the other four
motivations proved reliable
The factor analysis produced five factors. All of the Pass-time and Escape
items loaded together as a reliable dimension (alpha = .85). Three Information
and all Status-enhancement items loaded as a second reliable dimension (alpha =
.76). Entertainment and Relaxation scales loaded as separate reliable factors
(alpha = .70, and alpha = .76 respectively). The fifth factor, which contained
one Status-enhancement and one Information item, was discarded.
Future research using this refined scale for viewing reality shows should
produce four dimensions: Pass-time/Escape, Information/Status-enhancement,
Entertainment, and Relaxation.
Music videos: All dimensions, except for Entertainment, proved reliable at
alpha > .70. One item, "It's dramatic," hampered the internal consistency of the
Entertainment subscale. If removed, reliability jumped to alpha = .75 for the
dimension. The item-total correlation for the "It's dramatic" item was extremely
low (r = .16).
The factor analysis produced four reliable factors. All Information and
Status-enhancement items loaded together as a reliable dimension (alpha = .89).
All Pass-time and two of the three Escape items loaded together (alpha = .83).
Both Relaxation items loaded together (alpha = .81). Four of the five
Entertainment items loaded together (alpha = .75). The one Entertainment item
that didn't fit, "It's dramatic," loaded with the combined
Future research using this refined scale for music video viewing should produce
four dimensions: Entertainment, Information/Status-enhancement,
Pass-time/Escape, and Relaxation.
Situation comedies: All dimensions expect Relaxation and Entertainment and
Relaxation proved reliable at alpha > .70. The "It's dramatic" item again
proved problematic for the Entertainment subscale, with an item/total
correlation of r = .03. If removed, internal consistency for the dimension
improved from alpha = .64 to alpha = .81. The Relaxation dimension was nearly
reliable at alpha = .68. The low reliability might be explained by the small
number of items (only two) in the scale.
The factor analysis revealed three reliable factors. Again all
Status-enhancement and Information items loaded together (alpha = .88). Four of
the five Entertainment items and both Relaxation items loaded together (alpha =
.84). The one Entertainment item that did not fit, "It's dramatic," again
loaded with the Information/self-enhancement group. All Pass-time and two
Escape items loaded together as the final dimension (alpha = .85).
Future research using this refined scale for situation comedy viewing should
produce three dimensions: Entertainment/Relaxation,
Information/Status-enhancement, and Pass-time/Escape.
News magazine programs: All dimensions expect Status-enhancement proved
reliable at alpha > .70. The reliability of the Status-enhancement dimension
(alpha = . 62) would be lower if any of the items were deleted.
The factor analysis revealed five factors, four of which were reliable. All
Pass-time and two Escape items loaded together (alpha = .90). Four of the five
Entertainment items (again, excluding the "it's dramatic item") loaded by
themselves (alpha = .80). Both Relaxation items loaded together (alpha = .82).
Two factors with the Status-enhancement and Information items emerged. One,
containing three Information and two Status-enhancement items, was reliable
(alpha = .75). The second was not (alpha = .60).
Future research using this refined scale for television news magazine viewing
is expected to produce four dimensions: Entertainment, Relaxation,
Information/Status-enhancement, and Pass-time/Escape.
Talk shows: All six dimensions proved reliable at alpha > .70.
The factor analysis revealed four reliable factors. The four Information items
loaded together (alpha = .85). All Pass-time and all Entertainment items loaded
as two separate, reliable factors (alpha = .87 and alpha = .78 respectively).
The final factor included all Escape items, all Relaxation items, and all but
one Status-enhancement item. This conglomerate dimension was reliable (alpha =
Future research using this refined scale for talk show viewing is expected to
produce four dimensions: Entertainment, Pass-time, Information, and a mixed
dimension that includes Relaxation, Status-enhancement, and Escape.
Sports: All dimensions except Information proved reliable at alpha > .70. The
reliability of the Information (alpha = . 68) could be improved by dropping the
"I get information about important issues and events" item, which improve
reliability to alpha = .76.
The factor analysis produced four factors. Three Information items, without
the item mentioned above, loaded together (alpha = .76). All Pass-time items
loaded as one dimension (alpha = .80). Four Entertainment and both Relaxation
items produced a reliable dimension (alpha = .84). Items for the other two
viewing motivations, Status-enhancement and Escape, were scattered across the
factors and made up a fourth, unreliable factor.
Future research using this refined scale to examine televised sports viewing is
expected to produce three dimensions: Entertainment/Relaxation, Pass-time, and
Televised movies: All dimensions proved reliable at alpha > .70.
The six dimensions loaded neatly into three reliable factors. All Information
and Status-enhancement items loaded together (alpha = .88). All Entertainment
and both Relaxation items loaded as one dimension (alpha = .86). All Pass-time
and Escape items produced a reliable dimension (alpha = .85).
Future research using this refined scale for television viewing is expected to
produce three dimensions: Entertainment/Relaxation, Pass-time/Escape, and
Drama shows: All dimensions proved reliable at alpha > .70.
The factor analysis produced four factors. Again, all Information and
Status-enhancement items loaded together (alpha = .89). Four Entertainment
loaded together (alpha = .78) to produce a dimension, as did all Pass-time items
(alpha = .88). Both Relaxation items and two of the three Escape items loaded
together to produce the forth factor (alpha = .72).
Future research using this refined scale for drama show viewing is expected to
produce four dimensions: Entertainment, Pass-time, Relaxation/Escape, and
While different dimensions emerged for each of the program types, the factor
analysis revealed patterns. Many of the motivation groups consistently loaded
together to form single dimensions (see Table 2). The Information and
Status-enhancement factors loaded together as a single dimension seven times.
The Pass-time and Escape measures loaded together as a reliable dimension for
five of the program types. Entertainment and Relaxation also loaded together
often, appearing as a single dimension four times. These findings suggest that
Conway and Rubin's six motivational factors for viewing television in general
are not completely distinct dimensions.
This research has tailored the general television viewing instrument used by
Rubin and Conway for program type, creating a measure with more sensitivity to
examine uses and gratifications for each type of program. However, this
research should be seen as only the first step in refining television uses and
gratifications scales and creating scales for types of programming. Several
improvements could be made to improve the usefulness of the instrument for
First, construct validity should be better assessed. The current analysis
showed that many of the dimensions within program type behaved as past research
would have predicted; dimensions designed to measure different concepts (for
example, Information and Entertainment) generally loaded separately, suggesting
high discriminant validity. But convergent and discriminant validity could be
further checked by testing the scales against others designed to measure
Next, the constructs could be clarified. The survey instrument included
examples of each program type to help subjects understand what would be included
in each category (for example: "I watch soap operas (i.e. "All My Children,"
"Melrose Place," etc.) because ..."). These constructs were based on past
research. However, the constructs also could overlap. Someone might consider
television movies and drama shows similar, while another person might confuse
nightly news programs and news magazines. In addition, more types of
programming could be added, such as home shopping, educational programming,
documentaries, infomercials, late-night variety shows (Letterman, Leno).
Conversely, paring the number of program types tested at once would allow more
items to be included in each of the six dimensions. For example, Relaxation was
tested with only two items and Escape was tested with three. These should be
expanded to include at least four items, as in the other dimensions.
In addition, the dimensions could be better defined by eliminating or rewording
items. Several of the items in different dimensions seemed to be measuring the
same thing. For example, "I have nothing better to do," a Pass-time item, seems
similar to "It is something to do when friends come over," an Escape item.
Further analysis of the data and the factor analysis could measure overlap among
dimensions and help purify the measure.
Further, items that don't work should be dropped from the scale. Factor
analysis revealed several items that didn't seem to be loading as expected. For
example, the "It's dramatic" Entertainment item only loaded with the rest of the
Entertainment items for soap operas, reality-based news shows, talk shows, and
drama shows. It loaded in other, unexpected places for the other six program
types, suggesting that the item didn't hold well across program types.
Finally, the scales should be tested with known groups. Comparing the results
of this research with that of known groups could help test validity and check
norms. Because no previous research had looked at uses and gratifications for
program types, the researchers could not compare our findings with known groups.
Data from future scale development should be compared with these findings using
the different personality types as the known groups.
This research is born out of the idea that people select and use specific media
content in anticipation of having some particular need or set of needs
gratified. Because research employing a uses and gratifications theoretical
perspective typically finds the same six gratifications (Information,
Entertainment, Relaxation, Passing time, Status enhancement, and Escape),
critics of the uses and gratifications theoretical approach argue that research
typically produces useless results. This study suggests that the six previously
identified gratifications for television viewing in general do not consistently
hold when consumers are asked about specific program content. For example, the
information obtained from soap operas appears to be used for status-enhancement
or social-interaction reasons, while the information obtained from news programs
typically is used for providing knowledge about the self and the world. This
study identifies how specific television programs are used by viewers to serve
This path of research could suggest serious implications for television
programmers and advertisers. Under current advertising rates, one 30-second
television commercial cost an advertiser anywhere from $250,000 to $1.2 million.
As a result, advertisers want to be assured that they are buying the "right"
audience. Consequently, network programmers and producers, attempt to create
and transmit the sorts of television programs that will attract the "right"
audiences. Television as a medium and television content in general do attract a
particular sort of audience. But more variation is seen in the types of
audiences attracted to different types of programs. The results of this research
can prove meaningful for advertisers, network programmers, producers, and mass
communication theorists because results identify what gratifications viewers
expect television programs to fulfill. Subsequently, advertisers, knowing the
needs of the target audience, may now design ad campaigns designed to meet those
Reliabilities for six dimensions under each program type as defined by Conway
and Rubin. The number of subjects completing the scale is listed for each
program type. Subjects were instructed not to answer the scale for a program
type if they did not watch those types of shows.
News shows (n = 225)
Pass time .84
Soap operas (n = 152)
Real-life dramas (n = 127)
Music videos (n = 191)
Situation comedies (n =250)
News magazines (n = 159)
Talk shows (n = 145)
Sports (n = 134)
Television movies (n = 190)
Drama shows (n = 123)
Six dimensions predicted by Conway and Rubin's research:
Entertainment Relaxation Information
Status-enhancement Pass Time Escape
Dimensions as they loaded by television program type in this research:
The number of clear, reliable factors that emerged in further analysis is listed
after each program type. The reliability is listed for each dimension, as is
the number of items that loaded on that dimension.
News shows (3 factors)
Entertainment/Relaxation .82 (6)
Pass Time .84 (4)
Escape .75 (3)
Soap operas (3 factors)
Entertainment/Relaxation .85 (7)
Information/Status-Enhancement .87 (7)
Pass Time .84 (4)
Real-life dramas (4 factors)
Entertainment .70 (5)
Relaxation .76 (2)
Information/Status-Enhancement .76 (7)
Pass-Time/Escape .85 (7)
Music videos (4 factors)
Entertainment .76 (4)
Relaxation .81 (2)
Information/Status-Enhancement .89 (9)
Pass Time/Escape .83 (6)
Situation comedies (3 factors)
Entertainment/Relaxation .85 (6)
Information/Status -Enhancement .88 (9)
Pass Time/Escape .85 (6)
News magazines (4 factors)
Entertainment .80 (4)
Relaxation .82 (2)
Information/Status-Enhancement .75 (5)
Pass Time/Escape .90 (6)
Talk shows (4 factors)
Entertainment .78 (5)
Information .85 (4)
Pass Time .87 (4)
Mix of other three factors .86 (8)
Sports (3 factors)
Entertainment/Relaxation .84 (6)
Information .76 (3)
Pass Time .80 (4)
Television movies (3 factors)
Entertainment/Relaxation .86 (7)
Information/Status-Enhancement .88 (8)
Pass Time/Escape .85 (7)
Drama shows (4 factors)
Entertainment .78 (4)
Relaxation/Escape .72 (4)
Information/Status-Enhancement .89 (8)
Pass Time .88 (4)
Subjects responded to the following 22 items for each of the 10 program types.
Subjects were asked to respond to each item on a four-point scale where 1 =
strongly agree and 4 = strongly disagree.
I watch television news programs (i.e. local news, national news) because:
I learn how to do things (Information)
They entertain me (Entertainment)
I feel more important (Status enhancement)
It's something to occupy the time (Pass time)
Because they're on at that time (Pass time)
I learn what might happen to me (Information)
They're dramatic (Entertainment)
I get information about important issues and events (Information)
They're enjoyable (Entertainment)
I learn about myself and others (Status enhancement)
I can get away from what I am doing (Escape)
I can get away from the rest of the family and others (Escape)
It is something to do when friends come over (Escape)
They relax me (Relaxation)
I have nothing better to do (Pass time)
I just like to watch them (Entertainment)
I can impress people (Status enhancement)
They pass time away (Pass time)
They give me things to talk about with my friends and family (Status
They amuse me (Entertainment)
They give me facts to back up my opinions (Information)
They allow me to unwind (Relaxation)
The same scale was repeated, in the same order, for each of the following
y I watch soap operas (i.e. Melrose Place, All My Children, Day of Our
Lives, etc.) because:
y I watch real-life drama shows (i.e. Cops, Rescue 911, etc.) because:
y I watch music video programs (i.e. VH1, MTV, TNN, Gospel Music
Channel, etc.) because:
y I watch situation comedies (i.e. The Simpsons, Seinfeld, etc.)
y I watch news magazine shows (i.e. "20/20", Dateline, 60 Minutes, etc.)
y I watch talk shows (i.e. Oprah, Rickie Lake, Montel Williams, etc.)
y I watch sports shows (i.e. football, basketball, ESPN Sports Center,
y I watch television movies (i.e. network movies, cable movies on HBO,
Showtime, Lifetime, etc.) because:
y I watch television drama (i.e. NYPD Blue, ER, Picket Fences, etc.)
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