USES AND GRATIFICATIONS
WHAT IS THE USES AND GRATIFICATION
Uses and gratifications theory (UGT) is an approach
to understanding why and how people actively seek
out specific media to satisfy specific needs. UGT is an
audience-centered approach to understanding mass
communication.Diverging from other media effect
theories that question "what do media do to people?",
UGT focuses on "what do people do with media?"
ASSUMPTIONS OF USES AND GRATIFICATIONS
The audience is active and its media use is goal oriented
The initiative in linking need gratification to a specific
medium choice rests with the audience member
The media compete with other resources for need
People have enough self-awareness of their media use,
interests, and motives to be able to provide researchers
with an accurate picture of that use.
Value judgements of media content can only be
assessed by the audience.
STAGES OF THE THEORY
In 1944 Herta Herzog began to look at the earliest forms of uses and
gratifications with her work classifying the reasons why people chose specific
types of media. For her study, Herzog interviewed soap opera fans and was
able to identify three types of gratifications. The three gratifications categories,
based on why people listened to soap operas, were emotional, wishful
thinking, and learning.
In 1970 Abraham Maslow suggested that uses and gratifications theory was
an extension of the Needs and Motivation Theory. The basis for his argument
was that people actively looked to satisfy their needs based on a hierarchy.
These needs are organized as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in the form of a
pyramid with the largest, most fundamental needs at the base and the need
for self-actualization at the tip. From the bottom-up the pyramid contains
Biological/Physical, Security/Safety, Social/Belonging, Ego/Self-Respect and
Self-actualization at the top.
STAGES OF THE THEORY
In 1969 Jay Blumler and Denis McQuail studied the 1964 election
in the United Kingdom by examining people's motives for
watching certain political programs on television. By categorizing
the audience's motives for viewing a certain program, they aimed
to classify viewers according to their needs in order to understand
any potential mass-media effects.The audience motivations they
were able to identify helped lay the groundwork for their research
in 1972 and eventually uses and gratifications theory.
In 1972 Denis McQuail, Jay Blumler and Joseph Brown
suggested that the uses of different types of media could be
grouped into 4 categories. The four categories were: diversion,
personal relationships, personal identity and surveillance.
4 BASIC NEEDS
1. Diversion - escape from everyday issues
2. Personal relationships - using the media for
interaction e.g. substituting family for soap operas
3.Personal identity - learn behavior and values from
texts. Identify with characters.
4. Surveillance - useful information e.g. weather
reports, news etc
THE ACTIVE AUDIENCE
Jay Blumler presented a number of interesting points,
as to why Uses and Gratifications cannot measure an
active audience. He stated, "The issue to be
considered here is whether what has been thought
about Uses and Gratifications Theory has been an
article of faith and if it could now be converted into an
empirical question such as: How to measure an active
audience?" (Blumler, 1979). Blumler then offered
suggestions about the kinds of activity the audiences
were engaging with in the different types of media.
THE ACTIVE AUDIENCE
Utility : "Using the media to accomplish specific tasks"
Intentionality: "Occurs when people's prior motive
determine use of media"
Selectivity: "Audience members' use of media reflect
their existing interests"
Imperviousness to Influence: "Refers to audience
members' constructing their own meaning from media
Uses and gratifications Theory was developed in part to
help solve a fairly important problem for mass
Sven Windahl calls for the combinations of the Uses and
gratifications theory andthe effects traditions into what he
labels the uses and effects model.
Lucas, L., & Sherry, J. L. (2004). Sex differences in
video game play: A communication-based explanation.
In this study Lucas and Sherry investigated gender
differences in video game use. They focused on
“interpersonal needs for inclusion, affection, and
control, as well as socially constructed perceptions of
gendered game play”. The authors used a Uses and
Gratiﬁcations framework to examine these gender
differences and posed the following hypotheses:
1. Young women will be less likely to be video game
players than young men.
2. Young women will play video games for fewer
hours than young men.
3. Young women will be less motivated by the
gratiﬁcation of social interaction than young men.
4. Young men and young women will be highly motivated to play video games by the ability to beat or
control the game.
5. Young women will enjoy nonmental games more
than mental games.
These Uses and Gratiﬁcations theorists point to a second set
of premises that make clear their belief that people’s use of
media and the gratiﬁcations they seek from it are inextricably
intertwined with the world in which they live. Katz and his
colleagues (1974) originally wrote that “social situations” in
which people ﬁnd themselves can be “involved in the
generation of media-related needs” in ﬁve ways.
First, social situations can produce tensions and conﬂicts,
leading to pressure for their easement through the
consumption of media.
Second, social situations can create an awareness of
problems that demand attention, information about which may
be sought in the media.
Third, social situations can impoverish real-life
opportunities to satisfy certain needs, and the media can
serve as substitutes or supplements. In other words,
sometimes the situations in which you ﬁnd yourself make
the media the best, if not the only, source possible.
Fourth, social situations often elicit speciﬁc values, and
their afﬁrmation and reinforcement can be facilitated by
the consumption of related media materials.
Finally, social situations demand familiarity with media;
these demands must be met to sustain membership in
speciﬁc social groups.
USES AND GRATIFICATIONS AND NEW
Many researchers (and mass media consumers) believe we will change
the way we watch television and use media in general in the future.
According to the research, goals for media use can be grouped into five
uses. The audience wants to:
1. be informed or educated
2. identify with characters of the situation in the media environment
3. simple entertainment
4. enhance social interaction
5. escape from the stresses of daily life