Hey, what’s up! I’m back at it again with another post 🙂
Uses & Gratification Theory is the topic for today, it should be quite interesting so let’s dive right in.
This theory was introduced by Elihu Katz, it explains how people use media to satisfy their needs. It is the opposite of the magic bullet theory. This theory falls under the Socio-psychological tradition as an objective theory. Is it a good objective theory? Well… we’ll see. Since the evolution of media it has surely impacted the lives of nearly everyone. I view media as an avenue where we can gain knowledge, be entertained, a form of relaxation, interaction and simply just a bubble to escape in, when need be. I can think of a few media theories that focus on the effect that media has on people but in the words of Katz himself, he suggests that we should turn the question around to find out what do people do with media?
5 Categories of Needs & Gratification
- Cognitive needs – acquiring knowledge, information
- Emotional needs – using media to satisfy there emotional needs
- Personal Integrative needs – using media for reassurance
- Social Integrative needs – a new form of social interaction
- Tension free needs – to relieve stress
In analyzing these 5 categories of needs I realized that these are quite similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Now, I’m going to share with you Alan Rubin’s typologies of eight motivations that he used to explain people’s media consumption.
- Passing Time
- Social interaction
Speaking for myself I can definitely say that I use media for all of the above, sometimes I use it to pass time when I’m, to interact with my friends when we can’t meet up in person. I use it when I want to have a good laugh or simply just relax and unwind from a long day but most importantly, to keep up with what’s happening around me in the world. So Rubin was right!
Brazil is a country that is big on television. The military dictatorship within Brazil saw a great need for televisions and as a result of this, television became the most widely used medium throughout Brazil. Reports have shown that they are more televisions than they are fridges in the homes of Brazilians. They use television to watch the news and to watch Telenovelas. What makes Brazilians and other people all across the world alike is the need to watch television to keep up with fashion trends. Other people may use media out of habit, express opinions (especially on social media) or just simply, as a place to escape reality.
As this brings me to the end of my post, I will share with you some criticisms of Uses & Gratification theory before I go. In a nutshell, the theory doesn’t really give many explanations and predictions, which is a big no no resulting in a serious weakness of the theory itself. It does not offer much practical utility, whether users are active participants or not.Scholars question the testability based on whether or not people can accurately report the reasons for their media use.
All in all, people use media for a multiplicity of different reasons whether consciously or unconsciously. If you ask people why they use they use media you would more than likely get surface answers like “I like it” but they can’t really say why, because in actuality, most people really don’t know why they use media. So they answers can’t go beyond the surface. So, according to the criteria of “twin objectives of scientific knowledge” this theory is not a good objective theory because it does not explain the past & present and predict the future.
That’s all for now 🙂 look out for my next post on the Socio-Cognitive Theory, stay tuned ♥