Helena Bilandzic

in Communication

ISBN: 9780199756841
Published online February 2011 | | DOI:

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Entertainment formats, as trivial as they may seem to an educated audience, are used by millions of audience members during a substantial portion of the day, and in many ways they affect the audience’s feelings, beliefs and behaviors. The goals of entertainment research are (1) to critically observe and explain effects of entertaining media consumption; (2) to investigate ways in which entertainment can be used as a means to teach and convey facts (through news, documentaries, reenactment films, educational series about history, cultures, science, etc.), as well as to familiarize audiences with norms and values and help distribute prosocial messages. To achieve these goals, explaining the entertainment experience itself has been the focus of research activities. In some scholarly work, but especially in non-academic contexts, the term “entertainment” denotes a certain type of content that is commercially produced to entertain audiences. Used in this sense, entertainment is a content category for movies, television series, books, computer games, and magazines, to name just a few. However, it is more common in academic research to use the term “entertainment” for the evaluation and experience seen from the audience’s perspective; investigating audience experiences is clearly dominant in today’s entertainment research. Broadly, the term “entertainment” is used to characterize positive dispositions toward media content and pleasurable experiences with such content. “Entertainment” and “enjoyment” are often used synonymously, as both refer to positive appraisals of content and/or experience. If they are distinguished, it is often by emphasizing the association of entertainment with escape and relaxation, and with a certain type of content (for example, entertainment seems to be an inappropriate term for news or documentaries). Finally, using entertaining media has consequences beyond positive experiences during exposure: it may result in effects such as knowledge gain or attitude change.

Article.  6215 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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