Age differences in adults' emotional motivations for exposure to films

Marie Louise Mares, Mary Beth Oliver, Joanne Cantor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Participants in three age ranges (younger adults, 18-25, N = 188; middle adults, 26-49, N = 92; and older adults, 50 and over, N = 93) completed a questionnaire assessing motivations for everyday affective experiences as well as affective motivations for film viewing. In line with Arnett's (2000) view of emerging adulthood and Carstensen, Isaacowitz, and Charles's (1999) theory of socioemotional selectivity, younger adults expressed the greatest interest in experiencing negative emotions in their everyday lives, in viewing dark, creepy, or violent content, and in viewing media to escape boredom and for amusement; older adults were most interested in experiencing emotional stability and in viewing films with uplifting, heartwarming content. Results suggest that lifespan differences may help explain the allure of hedonically negative programming among some groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-511
Number of pages24
JournalMedia Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology


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