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Uses and gratification

Originally 'needs and gratification'
This is unusual approach to the effect of the mass media content. It is not interested in how media content affect people'. Rather it focuses on why a person uses the media.


  1. People's 'active' use of media content in order to fulfill needs and goals. Media use is active and goal driven based on individuals needs.
  2. People make 'choice' on media content.
  3. Media outlets compete with other available means of satisfying peronal needs. There are many ways to fulfill individual needs - not just mass media. Watching a sitcom (mass media); watching a movie; taking a run in the park; going for a walk; practicing yoga; soaking in a warm bath; etc.

People's uses

Gratification Examples
  • Seeking advice about practical materials, like how to cook a turkey (Food TV)
  • Finding out the weather so you know what to wear to work
Personal Identity
  • Reading Vogue or Esquire so you know how to dress and be considered stylish
  • Watching 응답하라 1994 because you like the value of the show or you can put yourself into such situtioans
Personal relationships
and social interaction
  • Listening to the Sports Radio Network on your drive to work so you can talk about it with your coworkers
  • Watching Survivor every week to bond with your family
  • Watching special a football match between the Korean team and one from another country


  • finding out about relevant events and conditions in immediate surroundings, society and the world
  • seeking advice on practical matters or opinion and decision choices
  • satisfying curiosity and general interest
  • learning; self-education
  • gaining a sense of security through knowledge

Personal Identity

  • finding reinforcement for personal values
  • finding models of behaviour
  • identifying with valued other (in the media)
  • gaining insight into one's self

Integration and Social Interaction

  • gaining insight into circumstances of others; social empathy
  • identifying with others and gaining a sense of belonging
  • finding a basis for conversation and social interaction
  • having a substitute for real-life companionship
  • helping to carry out social roles
  • enabling one to connect with family, friends and society


  • escaping, or being diverted, from problems
  • relaxing
  • getting intrinsic cultural or aesthetic enjoyment
  • filling time
  • emotional release
  • sexual arousal

Watching TV Quiz Programmes

McQuail, Blumler and Brown (1972) offered the following summary of clusters of 'uses' that people made of TV quizzes:

Gratifications of TV Quiz Shows: Selected Responses

Self-Rating Appeal

  • I can compare myself with the experts
  • I like to imagine that I am on the programme and doing well
  • I feel pleased that the side I favour has actually won
  • I am reminded of when I was in school
  • I laugh at the contestants? mistakes

Basis for Social Interaction

  • I look forward to talking about it with others
  • I like competing with other people watching with me
  • I like working together with the family on the answers
  • The children get a lot out of it
  • It brings the family together sharing the same interest
  • It is a topic of conversation afterwards

Excitement Appeal

  • I like the excitement of a close finish
  • I like to forget my worries for a while
  • I like trying to guess the winner
  • Having got the answer right I feel really good
  • I get involved in the competition

Educational Appeal

  • I find I know more than I thought
  • I find I have improved myself
  • I feel respect for the people on the programme
  • I think over some of the questions afterwards
  • It?s educational

(McQuail, Blumler & Brown 1972)


TV = a lean-backward medium.
The program that one watched last night: one missed about 1/3 of the program.
People mindlessly watch TV while doing other things.

uses_and_gratification.txt · Last modified: 2020/12/04 22:55 by hkimscil