Comparing entertainment and emotions

Holger Schramm, Mary Beth Oliver

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Emotion seems to be an integral part of the entertainment experience-audiences cheer for beloved heroes, weep when tragedy befalls protagonists, and hide their eyes when fearing for the fate of endangered heroines. Indeed, the importance of emotion in entertainment is highlighted by the tendency to name genres according to the emotional responses that they are designed to elicit, including tear-jerkers, thrillers, and comedies (Wirth & Schramm, 2005). Despite what may seem to be a universal experience, the types of entertainment portrayals that elicit different emotional responses, the phenomenology of emotional experiences, and the values that are assigned to affective responses are undoubtedly contextual (for overviews, see Mesquita & Leu, 2007; Mesquita, Frijda, & Scherer, 1997). That is, what may be considered humorous or tragic in one context may seem silly or trivial in another. Likewise, an affective state that may be understood as noble or valuable in one culture may be largely absent in another (Scherer, Wallbott, Matsumoto, & Kudoh, 1988). As a result, to more fully understand the role of emotion in entertainment, it is critical that scholars recognize and examine the boundaries, commonalities, and differences across cultures and contexts (Klimmt & Vorderer, 2009, pp. 354-355). To those ends, this chapter first provides a basis for how emotion has been conceptualized and studied in extant research in media psychology, then situates this research in terms of comparative studies, then considers the merits and limitations of comparative research on emotion and entertainment, and finally provides suggestions and directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Comparative Communication Research
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781136514241
ISBN (Print)9780415802758
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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