Soap opera exposure and enjoyment: A longitudinal test of disposition theory

Rene Weber, Ron Tamborini, Hye Eun Lee, Horst Stipp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Drama's appeal is driven in part by dispositions toward story characters and the deservingness of fortunes that befall them. This article reports the results of longitudinal research testing disposition theory's ability to predict viewer responses to daytime soap opera. A student sample completed a survey asking them to evaluate characters over 10 successive weeks. Measures of character morality and positive/negative outcomes for behaviors were used to predict the results of both viewer enjoyment and official Nielsen ratings in representative independent surveys covering the same 10 weeks. Consistent with disposition theory logic, an a priori specified interaction of character morality and behavioral outcome valencethe Disposition Vector Modelpredicted higher Nielsen ratings and increased viewer enjoyment when benefaction/ debasement befell characters morally deserving of these outcomes. Although well supported in short-term studies, to our knowledge this is the first study to support disposition theory over extended exposure to soap operas and predicting results in independent data sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-487
Number of pages26
JournalMedia Psychology
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008

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