Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Mass media and emotion

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Mass media and emotion:
How is emotion utilised in mass media?

Overview[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

What is mass media?[edit | edit source]

Mass media is defined as “a medium of communication (such as newspapers, radio, or television) that is designed to reach the mass of the people” (Merriam-Webster, 2019).  In today’s[when?] age, media is unavoidable. Advertising, film, music, print, social media, different media have become part of our everyday lives. It’s been integrated into many aspects of our modern world, and has become embedded in culture and shows no sign of slowing down. Media, whether intended or not, has great potential to influence the general public in many ways, including emotionally. Some of which we are conscious of, and more that we aren’t[grammar?]. The implications of this are enormous. Our perception is bombarded with ideas and concepts conveyed by different media at almost every moment of the day. While this can yield many benefits to the general population psychologically, there are also potential risks that exposure to media poses. In this chapter we will explore:

Focus questions
  1. What qualifies as mass media?
  2. How do different types of media affect us emotionally?
  3. How do people seek emotional fulfilment in media?

Advertising and Emotion[edit | edit source]

Figure 1. Emotion is critical for effective advertising

What can be defined as Mass Media spans from written text, to film. In today’s age, media is unavoidable. Advertising, Film, Music, print, different media have become part of our everyday lives. It’s been integrated into almost every part of our modern world, has become embedded in culture, and shows no sign of slowing down. Media, whether intended or not, has massive influences on the general public. Some which we are conscious of, and more that we aren’t. The implications of this are enormous. From cult-hit TV shows, to books, magazines, and newspapers, the songs on the radio, to the ads littered across every sidebar on the internet, our perception is bombarded with ideas and concepts conveyed by different media at almost every moment of the day. While this can yield many benefits to the general population psychologically, there are also potential risks that exposure to media poses. Our emotions can often be greatly influenced by Mass Media, in both the short term and long-term.

There are numerous techniques that are commonly used in different media that are utilised to different effects[vague]. In general, this is used to create a lasting impact on an audience. This is utilised very effectively in advertising.

When an advertisement is linked with an emotion, we are more likely to remember the whole experience of the ad more-so than one specific aspect of it, and simultaneously link the emotions experienced with the products advertised (Dibble, Hartmann & Rosaen, 2015). Therefore, when literary devices, or other techniques are used that make an ad more memorable, the more the experience as a whole will be more easily recalled in the future, including any emotional response to the ad. Solidifying the emotional response to the material that triggered it (Dibble, Hartmann & Rosaen, 2015).

Figure 2:

This ad for World Vision UK (Figure 2) depicts a small child, and her everyday struggles to provide for her poor family. Early on, the ad utilizes a combination of dull colours, guilt-inducing voice-overs (“No child should have to struggle like this”), sombre, low-tempo instrumental music, a monotonous narrator, and negative expressions on every person’s face. These are all commonly associated with negative emotion (Cupchik, 2001). This then transitions to a brighter scene, including children happily kicking a soccer ball with positive expressions, the music is replaced with a higher tempo, upbeat track, the narrator’s tone changes. The emotion the ad conveys changes as soon as the ‘product’ advertised is mentioned, tying the positive emotions to the happier scene, with the disadvantaged children enjoying themselves rather than the depressive scene earlier. The narrator provides a sense of urgency, framing the viewer as responsible for improving their quality of life.

Figure 3:

On the other hand, this Coca-Cola ad campaign (Figure 3) consists of a combination of showcasing the brand with bright colours everywhere, peppy, upbeat music, and a tagline, which links the coca-cola brand to feelings of happiness. Although it is used in an entirely different context, this is the same technique utilized in the World Vision advertisement (Cupchik, 2001).

The sole goal of effective advertising is to sell a product or idea to us, the consumers (Mehta & Purvis, 2006). The most probable risk to any viewer’s emotion that may come from advertising exposure relates to emotional mirroring (Budell, Kunz, Jackson & Rainville, 2015), whereby exposure to many ads eliciting negative emotions may negatively affect the viewer’s emotions (Budell, Kunz, Jackson & Rainville, 2015). However, the same can be said about positive emotions observed in advertising also (Budell, Kunz, Jackson & Rainville, 2015).

Social media and Emotion[edit | edit source]

Social media is becoming more commonly used as time progresses. Social media are most commonly utilized by the public for the purpose of consuming media, and communicating their ideas to an audience. Users of social media report higher levels of connectedness to their community, and feel a greater sense of social belonging (Pittman, M., & Reich, B. (2016). Some commonly used social media platforms include:

  • Facebook: Image and text based platform - Designed to allow the user to create a personal profile
  • Twitter: Primarily utilises text and Images - Designed for the purpose of viewing or creation of easily digestible text and image posts
  • Instagram: Image and video oriented platform - Designed for the purpose of easily sharing and consuming photos and video
  • Discord: Primarily utilises voice chat, text and images - Designed for the purpose of communication to best compliment game platforms

Loneliness is a large problem in modern society (Canary, D., & Spitzberg, B., 1993). Loneliness can most easily be reduced by developing good social connections, and good interpersonal relationships (Canary, D., & Spitzberg, B., 1993). Before social media platforms existed, individuals whom[grammar?] have difficulty socializing, or lacked the means to socialise, were much more restricted (Pittman, M., & Reich, B. 2016) (Canary, D., & Spitzberg, B., 1993). Traditional media such as print media, correspondence by letter, and telecommunications were not difficult to obtain or gain access to, but in comparison to modern social platforms, they lacked the speed or accessibility present in new social media possess (Pittman, M., & Reich, B. 2016) (Canary, D., & Spitzberg, B., 1993). Social media platforms such as these open up for more opportunities for individuals to communicate, form relationships, and experience an increased amount of positive emotions in comparison to exposure to print media, radio, or television  (Pittman, M., & Reich, B. (2016) (Canary, D., & Spitzberg, B., 1993) (Austin, B., 1985). Furthermore, users can customise their social media platforms to increase the frequency that posts related to an individual’s topic of interest appear, increasing engagement, and increasing the likelihood of experiencing positive emotions as a result of using the platform (Pittman, M., & Reich, B. 2016). Furthermore, these types of media are quite often heavily relied on for means of communication, and contact with local communities and contacts (Pittman, M., & Reich, B. 2016). More often than not, due to the emotional fulfilment that can be experienced through socialisation, as per Maslow's hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1943). This can lead to a heavy reliance on social media platforms, and in some cases, addiction (Pittman, M., & Reich, B. 2016).

Quiz question[edit | edit source]

What is emotional mirroring?

The high likelihood of an individual replicating an emotion they observe
Smiling in a mirror
The high likelihood of an individual replicating an emotion they think of

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

In conclusion, emotion is utilised in advertising very effectively, whereas results for the effectiveness is quite subjective in the case of social media platforms. While there are risks [grammar?] exposure to these media can have a negative effect on emotion, both advertising and social media are likely to have equally as much of a positive effect on their audience's emotions as well.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Ahn, D., & Shin, D. (2013). Is the social use of media for seeking connectedness or for avoiding social isolation? Mechanisms underlying media use and subjective well-being. Computers In Human Behavior, 29(6), 2453-2462. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.022

Austin, B. (1985). Loneliness and Use of Six Mass Media among College Students. Psychological Reports, 56(1), 323-327. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1985.56.1.323

Bhatara, A., Laukka, P., & Levitin, D. (2014). Expression of emotion in music and vocal communication: Introduction to the research topic. Frontiers In Psychology, 5. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00399

Biener, L., Wakefield, M., Shiner, C., & Siegel, M. (2008). How Broadcast Volume and Emotional Content Affect Youth Recall of Anti-Tobacco Advertising. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, 35(1), 14-19. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.03.018

Bradley, J. (2015). A contribution to the schizoanalysis of indifference. Explorations In Media Ecology, 14(1), 107-124. doi: 10.1386/eme.14.1-2.107_1

Budell, L., Kunz, M., Jackson, P., & Rainville, P. (2015). Mirroring Pain in the Brain: Emotional Expression versus Motor Imitation. PLOS ONE, 10(2), e0107526. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107526

Canary, D., & Spitzberg, B. (1993). Loneliness and Media Gratifications. Communication Research, 20(6), 800-821. doi: 10.1177/009365093020006003

Cupchik, G. (2001). Theoretical Integration Essay: Aesthetics and Emotion in Entertainment Media. Media Psychology, 3(1), 69-89. doi: 10.1207/s1532785xmep0301_04

Davis, M., & Kraus, L. (1989). Social Contact, Loneliness, and Mass Media Use: A Test of Two Hypotheses. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 19(13), 1100-1124. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1989.tb01242.x

Dibble, J., Hartmann, T., & Rosaen, S. (2015). Parasocial Interaction and Parasocial Relationship: Conceptual Clarification and a Critical Assessment of Measures. Human Communication Research, 42(1), 21-44. doi: 10.1111/hcre.12063

Heath, R. (2009). Emotional Engagement: How Television Builds Big Brands At Low Attention. Journal Of Advertising Research, 49(1), 62-73. doi: 10.2501/s0021849909090060

Lamont, A., & Eerola, T. (2011). Music and Emotion: Themes and Development. Musicae Scientiae, 15(2), 139-145. doi: 10.1177/102986491101500201

Leung, L. (2001). Gratifications, chronic loneliness and internet use. Asian Journal Of Communication, 11(1), 96-119. doi: 10.1080/01292980109364794

Maslow, A. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396. doi: 10.1037/h0054346

Mehta, A., & Purvis, S. (2006). Reconsidering Recall and Emotion in Advertising. Journal Of Advertising Research, 46(1), 49-56. doi: 10.2501/s0021849906060065

Merriam-Webster. (2019). Definition of MASS MEDIUM. Retrieved 27 October 2019, from

Perse, E., & Rubin, A. (1990). Chronic loneliness and television use. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 34(1), 37-53. doi: 10.1080/08838159009386724

Pittman, M., & Reich, B. (2016). Social media and loneliness: Why an Instagram picture may be worth more than a thousand Twitter words. Computers In Human Behavior, 62, 155-167. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2016.03.084

Saarikallio, S. (2008). Music in Mood Regulation: Initial Scale Development. Musicae Scientiae, 12(2), 291-309. doi: 10.1177/102986490801200206

Soni, M. (2017). Effects of varying involvement level within a television program on recall of cognitive versus affective advertisement. Journal Of Consumer Marketing, 34(4), 338-348. doi: 10.1108/jcm-09-2015-1532

External links[edit | edit source]