Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Mood management theory and media consumption

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Mood management theory and media consumption:
What is MMT and how does it explain media consumption and its effects on mood?
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Overview[edit | edit source]

Take a moment and think back to the last time you consumed a form of media. Maybe you were scrolling through Facebook, looking at images on Instagram, or simply listening to the radio while driving. Now, consider what your motivation was for consuming that form of media and whether you noticed a change in your overall mood.

Media consumption has become a prominent part of most people’s everyday life. The considerable position that media consumption holds within daily life has prompted a range of literature (Reinecke et al., 2012; Stevens et al., 2017). This literature is evident to have a particular focus on the motives behind media consumption and the effects that it has on mood (Goh et al., 2019; Korsvold, 2017; Reinecke et al., 2012; Stevens et al., 2017). Mood management theory (MMT) is a theory that is widely acknowledged as providing an explanation for why people consume media and the effects that it has on mood (Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008; Reinecke et al., 2012; Zillmann, 1988). This book chapter will focus on developing a comprehensive understanding about MMT and the core concepts that MMT is based off. This book chapter will also identify, with support of empirical research, how MMT is able to explain media consumption and the effects that it has on mood.

Focus questions:

  • What is MMT?
  • How does MMT explain media consumption and its effects on mood?

MMT[edit | edit source]

MMT is a theory, that was developed by Dolf Zillmann (1988), that explains the motives behind media consumption and the effects it has on mood. In the early stages of development, Zillmann (1988) was interested in understanding the interaction between external stimuli and mood management. Specifically, Zillmann (1988) wanted to understand how mood could be managed through the arrangement and selection of external stimuli. Initially, the specific external stimulus that Zillmann (1988) was referring to was communication choices. This interest initiated the development of MMT (Zillmann, 1988). Zillmann (1988) based his proposal of MMT on the premises of selective exposure theory and hedonic motivation. Thus, proposing that individuals will select and attend to external stimulus that promotes pleasurable outcomes and will subsequently avoid aversive stimulus in order to reduce the likelihood of unpleasant outcomes (Zillmann, 1988, 2000).

Throughout later work by Zillmann (2000) and Knobloch and Zillmann (2002) the focus of communication choices as external stimulus was refined to media consumption. Through this refinement, the motives behind media consumption and the effects that is has on mood were more specifically pursued (Zillmann, 2000; Knobloch & Zillmann, 2002). MMT suggested that individuals would consume media that promoted a positive mood and would subsequently avoid consuming media that promoted a negative mood (see figure 1) (Zillman, 2000; Knobloch & Zillmann, 2002). This refinement allowed for MMT to draw more specific conclusions about the motivation behind media consumption and the effects it has on mood (Knobloch & Zillmann, 2002).

Case study: Truck driver

George, a 55 year old truck driver, spends long hours listening to the radio. George really enjoys listening to classic 80s music but is not a fan of hip hop or rap. When George selects a radio station to listen to, he ensures that it is one that plays predominantly classic 80s music and avoids radio stations that play hip hop and rap. Georges selection of radio station reinforces MMT as he selects a specific form of media to consume that will increase or maintain his current mood, while subsequently avoiding consuming media content that may decrease his overall mood.

Figure 1. Diagram of Zillmanns (1988) mood management theory.
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Test your knowledge quiz 1
Choose the correct answer and click "Submit":

1 MMT is best described as:

A theory that individuals do not consume media
A theory that individuals will consume media that will optimize their mood
A theory that individuals consume media on a regular basis
A theory that individuals consume media only when they are in a negative mood

2 MMT was developed by Zillmann:

True
False

Core concepts of MMT[edit | edit source]

Throughout a range of literature, MMT is evident to be based around and explored alongside four core concepts (Knobloch & Zillmann, 2002; Stevens & Dillman Carpentier, 2017; Zillmann, 1988, 2000). These are inclusive of mood, media consumption, hedonic motivation, and selective exposure theory (Knobloch & Zillmann, 2002; Stevens & Dillman Carpentier, 2017). Through developing an understanding about each of these four core concepts individually, a more in depth understanding can be subsequently developed about MMT. Specifically, these four core concepts can assist with understanding how MMT is able to explain media consumption and its effects on mood.  

Mood[edit | edit source]

Figure 2. Image that represents positive and negative affect.

Mood is evident to be at the core of MMT (Zillmann, 1988). MMT has a specific focus on understanding how mood is managed through the use of external stimuli (Zillmann, 1988, 2000). Thus, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of MMT it is vital to first conceptualise mood.

Mood, or affect, is conceptualised as the mild and prolonged feeling that people experience on a daily basis (Marszał-Wiśniewska & Nowicka, 2018). Mood can be further understood through its differentiation from emotion. Unlike emotions, mood is less intense, more long-lived, and less likely to be provoked by a specific life event (Marszał-Wiśniewska & Nowicka, 2018). Positive affect and negative affect are often mentioned within literature on MMT (Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008; Stevens & Dillman Carpentier, 2017). When discussing positive affect and negative affect it is important to note that they are understood as independent affective states and are not a part of a continuum (see figure 2) (Chin & Rickard, 2014). Positive affect is commonly explained as the feeling an indivdual experiences while walking through a park soaking up fresh air; it is the underlying, low-level, state of good feeling that is experienced (Chin & Rickard, 2014; Joshanloo & Bakhshi, 2016). On the other hand, negative affect is recognised as the regularity of experiencing negative emotions, which subsequently leads to an overall negative affect (see table 1) (Chin & Rickard, 2014; Joshanloo & Bakhshi, 2016). Both positive and negative affect are discussed within MMT as MMT proposes an explanation for how media consumption impacts affective states (Zillmann, 1988, 2000).

Table 1.
Types of affective states.

Definition
Mood / Affect Affect is conceptualised as the mild, prolonged feeling state that is experienced daily.
Positive affect Positive affect is understood as an underlying, low-level, state of good feeling.
Negative affect Negative affect is understood as the regularity of experiences negative emotions.

Media consumption[edit | edit source]

Figure 3. Person holding a mobile phone, gaining easy accessibility to consume a range of media content.
Figure 4. Icons that represent the different forms of media people can consume.

Throughout the development of MMT, Zillmann (2000) and Knobloch and Zillmann (2002) explore the motives behind media consumption and the role that it has on mood. Throughout this exploration, media consumption is identified as a core concept associated with MMT (Knobloch and Zillmann ,2002; Zillmann, 2000). Current literature also substantiates the importance of media consumption through the common exploration of media consumption alongside MMT (Goh et al., 2019; Korsvold, 2017; Strizhakova & Krcmar, 2007). Thus, understanding media consumption is essential to understanding MMT.

Media consumption is evident to be a prominent part of everyday life (Goh et al., 2019; Stevens et al., 2017). This may, in part, be due to the increased accessibility that people in modern society have to consume media (see figure 3) (Gainous et al., 2018; Goh et al., 2019). In order to conceptualise media consumption it is important to first define media. Media is understood as a means of communication that has the ability to reach or influence a wide range of people (Korsvold, 2017; Nabi, 2018). Media is inclusive of things such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, social media and the internet (see figure 4) (Gainous et al., 2018). Media consumption can then be conceptualised as the amount of media content that an individual consumes (Korsvold, 2017). When discussing media consumption in the context of MMT, it is further understood as the amount of media that an individual selects to attend to (Knobloch & Zillmann, 2002).

Hedonic motivation[edit | edit source]

Through gaining an understanding about hedonic motivation and the hedonistic premises that Zillmann (1988) based the development of MMT on, you are subsequently able to develop a more comprehensive understanding about MMT. Hedonic motivation is extensively explored throughout a vast array of empirical literature (Martin-Consuegra et al., 2019; Stevens & Dillman Carpentier, 2017; Zillmann, 1988, 2000). Hedonic motivation is a form of motivation that is based off the assumption that humans have an innate desire to seek out and engage with pleasurable stimuli (Martin-Consuegra et al., 2019; Stevens & Dillman Carpentier, 2017). Furthermore, hedonic motivation suggests that individuals are continuously seeking to either maintain or increase a pleasurable state (Stevens & Dillman Carpentier, 2017). Thus, hedonic motivation implies that an individual will be motivated to engage with a stimulus if it promotes pleasurable outcomes and will avoid engaging with a stimulus if it promotes aversive outcomes (Martin-Consuegra et al., 2019; Stevens & Dillman Carpentier, 2017).

Hedonic motivation is evident to be at the core of MMT (Zillmann, 1988). Zillmann (1988) acknowledged that MMT was based off the premises of hedonic motivation. Specifically, Zillmann (1988) based his theory of mood management on the hedonistic premises that individuals strive to perpetuate or maintain the intensity of good moods and strive to diminish the intensity of or rid bad moods. The application of hedonic motivation in Zillmanns (1988, 2000) MMT is evident through the acknowledged interaction between media consumption and mood. Where individuals are anticipated to consume media that will optimize or sustain a current positive affect and will avoid consuming media that will reduce the intensity of a current positive affective state. Through understanding how Zillmann (1988) utilised hedonic motivation to develop MMT you are subsequently able to draw conclusions about how MMT can explain media consumption and its effects on mood. Hedonic motivation, within MMT, would suggest that individuals are motivated to consume media that has the ability to promote a positive mood. Thus, MMT explains media consumption through the premises of hedonic motivation.

Selective exposure theory[edit | edit source]

The core concepts of Festinger’s theory of selective exposure were utilised by Zillmann (1988, 2000), alongside the premises of hedonic motivation, to develop MMT. Thus, a more comprehensive understanding about MMT can be developed through understanding the core concepts of selective exposure theory. Selective exposure theory is a theory that is based off the premise that individuals will avoid exposing themselves to information that causes cognitive dissonance; as cognitive dissonance is evident to cause noxious experiences which people often strive to avoid (Zillmann, 1988). Throughout a range of literature selective, exposure theory is often explored alongside media and communication consumption (Camaj, 2019; Hart et al., 2009). Throughout this exploration, selective exposure theory proposes that that individuals will select to attend to media and communication that is congruent with their beliefs and will subsequently avoid consuming media and communication that is counter-attitudinal (Camaj, 2019; Zillmann, 1988).

Zillmann (1988) is evident to apply the core concepts of Festinger’s selective exposure theory to development of MMT. Zillmann (1988, 200) utilised the premise that individuals can select to attend to specific media. This was utilised in conjunction with hedonic motivation. This is evident through the MMT proposing that individuals can select to consume specific media that sustains or enhances a positive affective state and can subsequently avoid selecting to consume media that promotes a negative affective state (Zillmann, 1988, 2000).


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Test your knowledge quiz 2
Choose the correct answer and click "Submit":

1 Which of the following is not an affective state:

Positive affect
Mood
Negative affect
Solid affect

2 The innate desire that humans have to seek out and engage with pleasurable stimuli is known as:

Motivation
Evolution
Hedonic motivation
Selective exposure

How MMT explains media consumption and its effects on mood[edit | edit source]

MMT is evident to be able to explain why people consume specific types of media and the subsequent effects that this consumption has on affective states. This explanation is developed through work by Zillmann (1988,2000) and Knobloch and Zillmann (2002). Over the past few decades, there has been a range of literature that has substantiated Zillmanns (1988) MMT. Often, this literature explores the core concepts of MMT alongside additional factors. This exploration of additional factors allows for a comprehensive understanding to be developed about the moderating factors of media consumption and mood. Throughout this section empirical research will be analysed in an aim to substantiate the ability how MMT explains media consumption and its effects on mood.

Theoretical support[edit | edit source]

Zillmanns (1988, 2000) MMT is often acknowledged as proposing a comprehensive explanation for why people consume specific forms of media and the effects that this consumption has on managing affective states. This explanation can be understood through the core concepts that were explored earlier within this book chapter. These core concepts include hedonic motivation and selective exposure theory (Zillmann, 1988, 2000). Through a wide range of literature these core concepts can be understood as the centre of MMT and its ability to explain media consumption and its effects on mood (Martin-Consuegra et al., 2019; Stevens & Dillman Carpentier, 2017; Zillmann, 1988, 2000). Thus, MMT explains that people will select to attend to media that enhances or sustains a positive affective state as they are hedonically motivated to seek out pleasurable outcomes (Martin-Consuegra et al., 2019; Zillmann, 1988, 2000). This is further supported through MMTs use of selective exposure theory as individuals will actively choose to attend to specific stimuli that they identify as beneficial (Camaj, 2019; Zillmann, 2000). Furthermore, MMT explains that media consumption subsequently has a positive impact on mood as people are consuming media that will sustain or enhance a positive affective state (Zillmann, 2000).

MMT is evident to be able to propose an explanation for media consumption and its effects on mood (Zillmann, 1988, 2000; Knobloch& Zillmann, 2002). Despite this, it is important to consider and explore additional moderating factors that may also impact media consumption and mood. Through this exploration, a more comprehensive understanding about the extent to which MMT is able to explain media consumption and its effects on mood can be developed. Some of these key moderating factors are inclusive psychopathology and gender. Both of which have been explored throughout literature alongside MMT (Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008; Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007).

Psychopathology[edit | edit source]

As MMT is focused on the interaction between media consumption and mood it is important to consider possible psychopathological factors that may influence both media consumption and mood. Through a study by Dillman Carpentier et al. (2008) the possible moderating role that psychopathology has on the interaction between media consumption and mood was explored alongside MMT. This study specifically aimed at identifying whether prior affective states impact the selection of media to consume within adolescents (Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008). The participants in this study consisted adolescents who were or were not diagnosed with clinical depression (Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008). The study consisted of asking these participants about their mood and media consumption behaviours over the course of several weeks (Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008). More specifically, participants were asked to identify what type of media they were consuming and how they would rate the affective attributes of this media consumption (Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008).

The results received from this study by Dillman Carpentier et al. (2008) identified that adolescents who were diagnosed with clinical depression were more likely to consume media than those who were not. More specifically, these results indicated that regardless of whether the participant was diagnosed with clinical depression or not, adolescents in general are more likely to consume media that sustains a current or past experienced positive affective state rather than enhancing it (Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008).

These results have important implications for MMT, specifically for the core concept of hedonic motivation. The results received form the study by Dillman Carpentier et al. (2008) identify that prior affective states do no impact media consumption such that individuals who are currently diagnosed with clinical depression will not select to consume media that promotes a negative affective state. This reinforces MMT which suggests that individuals will select to attend to and consume media that either sustains or enhances an affective state; people are not motivated to consume media that will decrease or prolong a negative affective state (Dillman Carpentier, 2008; Zillmann, 1988). These results further reinforce that MMT is able to explain media consumption through the understanding that people are hedonically motivated (Dillman Carpentier, 2008; Zillmann, 1988). Thus, MMT explains that media consumption is hedonically motivated and will either sustain or enhance mood (Dillman Carpentier, 2008; Zillmann, 1988).

Gender[edit | edit source]

When assessing the ability that MMT has to explain media consumption and its effects on mood it is important to consider the possible impact that gender has. The influence of gender on media consumption and mood management was directly explored through a study by Knobloch-Westerwick (2007). This study was specifically focused on identifying the different coping strategies that are employed by different genders and how they utilise media as part of these coping strategies. This study was theoretically based around the core concepts of MMT and response styles theory. With consideration to these theories, it was hypothesised that media consumption would be reflective of gender-specific mood management strategies (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007). More specifically, that men would consume media for distractive purposes and women would consume media for rumination (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007).

This study sample consisted of 116 undergraduate university students (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007). These participants were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions; however, gender proportions were balanced (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007). These conditions were identified as mood manipulation and anticipated manipulation (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007). Participants, in the mood manipulation condition, were initially instructed to respond to 20 portrait photos that expressed basic emotions and were then to select songs to listen to (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007). Through the anticipated manipulation condition, participants were initially informed about the music listening task prior to viewing the 20 portrait photos and then selected songs to listen too (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007). Participants in each condition were asked to complete a questionnaire, after completion of their tasks, that was used to indicate their current mood (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007).

The results that were received from this study identify that men and women differ in the ways in which they deal with affective states (Knobloch-Westerwick, 2007). This was reflected throughout the study by Knobloch-Westerwick (2007) through participants media consumption choices. This in an important results to note as it reinforces gender as a considerable factor within MMT. Specifically, these results have assisted with further developing MMT to a position of explaining media consumption and the effects it has on mood with consideration to gender.

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Test your knowledge quiz 3
Choose the correct answer and click "Submit":

1 Dillman Carpentier et al. (2008) found that adolescents:

Do not like consuming media
Enjoy consuming media
Consume media that sustains or enhances a positive affective state
Consume media that enhances a positive affective state

2 According to Knobloch-Westerwick (2007) men and women ______:

Have the same way to deal with affective states
Differ in the way in which they deal with affective states
Do not know how to deal with affective states
Like being in negative affective states

3 Overall, MMT is able to explain media consumption and its effects on mood:

False
True

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

MMT is a theory that was developed by Zillmann (1988) that focuses on the interaction between media consumption and mood. MMT is evident to be based off four core concepts, these are inclusive of mood, media consumption, hedonicmotivation and selective exposure theory (Zillmann, 1988, 2000). Throughout an extensive range of literature MMT is evident to be able to explain media consumption and the effect it has on mood (Zillmann, 1988, 2000; Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008; Knobloch and Zillmann, 2002). MMT explains media consumption and its effects on mood through positing that individuals are hedonically motivated. This implies that individuals will actively select to consume media that promotes or sustains a positive affective state (Knobloch & Zillmann, 2002; Dillman Carpentier et al., 2008). As media consumption is understood through MMT as being hedonic motivated this further implies that media consumption either sustains or has a positive affect on mood. Overall, Zillmanns (1988) MMT is evident to be an effective theory in developing an understanding about the interaction between media consumption and mood.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Chin, T., & Rickard, N. (2014). Beyond positive and negative trait affect: Flourishing through music engagement. Psychology of Well-Being, 4(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13612-014-0025-4

Camaj, L. (2019). From selective exposure to selective information processing: A motivated reasoning approach. Media and Communication (Lisboa), 7(3), 8–11. https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v7i3.2289

Dillman Carpentier, F., Brown, J., Bertocci, M., Silk, J., Forbes, E., & Dahl, R. (2008). Sad kids, sad media? Applying mood management theory to depressed adolescents’ use of media. Media Psychology, 11(1), 143–166. https://doi.org/10.1080/15213260701834484

Gainous, J., Abbott, J., & Wagner, K. (2018). Traditional versus internet media in a restricted information environment: How trust in the medium matters. Political Behavior, 41(2), 401–422. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9456-6

Goh, T., Xin, Z., & Jin, D. (2019). Habit formation in social media consumption: a case of political engagement. Behaviour & Information Technology, 38(3), 273–288. https://doi.org/10.1080/0144929X.2018.1529197

Hart, W., Albarracín, D., Eagly, A., Brechan, I., Lindberg, M., & Merrill, L. (2009). Feeling validated versus being correct: A meta-analysis of selective exposure to information. Psychological Bulletin, 135(4), 555–588. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0015701

Joshanloo, M., & Bakhshi, A. (2016). The factor structure and measurement invariance of positive and negative affect: A study in Iran and the USA. European Journal of Psychological Assessment : Official Organ of the European Association of Psychological Assessment, 32(4), 265–272. https://doi.org/10.1027/1015-5759/a000252

Korsvold, T. (2017). Childhood and children’s retrospective media consumption experiences: The case of Norway. Nordicom Review, 38(2), 1–. https://doi.org/10.1515/nor-2017-0394

Knobloch, S., & Zillmann, D. (2002). Mood Management via the Digital Jukebox. Journal of Communication, 52(2), 351–366. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2002.tb02549.x

Knobloch-Westerwick, S. (2007). Gender differences in selective media use for mood management and mood adjustment. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 51(1), 73–92. https://doi.org/10.1080/08838150701308069

Marszał-Wiśniewska, M., & Nowicka, M. (2018). Individual Differences in Mood Changes. Journal of Happiness Studies, 19(5), 1415–1438. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-017-9879-5

Martín-Consuegra, D., Díaz, E., Gómez, M., & Molina, A. (2019). Examining consumer luxury brand-related behavior intentions in a social media context: The moderating role of hedonic and utilitarian motivations. Physiology & Behavior, 200, 104–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.03.028

Nabi, R. (2018). Why misery loves company: The role of self-forgiveness in reducing regret through media consumption. Media Psychology, 21(4), 558–581. https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2017.1302343

Reinecke, L., Tamborini, R., Grizzard, M., Lewis, R., Eden, A., & David Bowman, N. (2012). Characterizing mood management as need satisfaction: The effects of intrinsic needs on selective exposure and mood repair. Journal of Communication, 62(3), 437–453. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01649.x

Stevens, E., & Dillman Carpentier, F. (2017). Facing our feelings: How natural coping tendencies explain when hedonic motivation predicts media use. Communication Research, 44(1), 3–28. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650215587358

Strizhakova, Y., & Krcmar, M. (2007). Mood management and video rental choices. Media Psychology, 10(1), 91–112. https://doi.org/10.1080/15213260701301152

Zillmann, D. (1988). Mood Management Through Communication Choices. The American Behavioral Scientist, 31(3), 327–340. https://doi.org/10.1177/000276488031003005

Zillmann, D. (2000). Mood Management in the Context of Selective Exposure Theory. Annals of the International Communication Association: Communication Yearbook 23, 23(1), 103–123. https://doi.org/10.1080/23808985.2000.11678971

External links[edit | edit source]