Predicting Media Appeal From Instinctive Moral Values

Ron Tamborini, Allison Eden, Nicholas David Bowman, Matthew Grizzard, René Weber, Robert Joel Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Zillmann's moral sanction theory defines morality subcultures for entertainment as groups of media viewers who evaluate character actions with shared value systems. However, the theory provides no a priori means to identify these shared value systems. The model of intuitive morality and exemplars incorporates a theoretical framework for identifying and testing the factors from which these shared value systems emerge. This study applies the model's framework, based on 5 "moral domains" from moral foundations theory, to test the influence of shared value systems on character perceptions and narrative appeal. A within-subject experiment varied violation of these five domains (care, fairness, ingroup loyalty, authority, and purity) and narrative resolutions (positive or negative outcomes) in 10 short narrative scenarios. The 5 domains predicted character perceptions and narrative appeal. The results are discussed in terms of the utility of these domains for understanding the reciprocal relationship between audience values and media response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-346
Number of pages22
JournalMass Communication and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Predicting Media Appeal From Instinctive Moral Values'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this