Kaspar, Kai, Zimmermann, Daniel and Wilbers, Anne-Kathrin (2016). Thrilling News Revisited: The Role of Suspense for the Enjoyment of News Stories. Front. Psychol., 7. LAUSANNE: FRONTIERS MEDIA SA. ISSN 1664-1078

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Abstract

Previous research on news perception has been dominated by a cognitively oriented perspective on reception processes, whereas emotions have been widely neglected. Consequently, it has remained open which features of a news story might elicit affective responses and hence modulate news perception, shifting the focus to the emotional potential of the narrative. According to the affective-disposition theory, the experience of suspense is the striving force of immersion in fictional dramas. Thereby, a positive affective disposition toward the protagonist of a story and a high likelihood of a bad ending should increase suspense that, in turn, should positively influence reading appreciation and lingering interest in the story. We investigated whether suspense and its determinants also play such a key role in the context of news stories. Study 1 (n = 263) successfully replicated results of an earlier study, whereas Studies 2 (n = 255) and 3 (n = 599) challenged the generalizability of some effects related to manipulated characteristics of a news story. In contrast, correlational relationships between perceived news characteristics and news evaluation were relatively stable. In particular, participants' liking of the protagonist and the perceived likelihood of a good ending were positively associated with suspense, reading appreciation, and lingering interest. This result indicates a preference for happy endings and contradicts the notion that likely negative outcomes are beneficial for suspense and the enjoyment of news stories, as postulated by the affective-disposition theory in the context of fictional dramas. Moreover, experienced suspense reliably mediated the correlations between, on the one hand, participants liking of the protagonist and the perceived likelihood of a good ending and, on the other hand, reading appreciation and lingering interest. The news story's personal relevance was less influential than expected. Further, we observed a large absence of interaction effects, indicating that central characteristics of a news story can be independently varied to a large degree. In a nutshell, we may conclude that suspense significantly mediates the correlation between perceived news characteristics and the enjoyment of news stories, whereas manipulations of news characteristics do not necessarily influence the enjoyment of narratives as desired.

Item Type: Journal Article
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Kaspar, KaiUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Zimmermann, DanielUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Wilbers, Anne-KathrinUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-252497
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01913
Journal or Publication Title: Front. Psychol.
Volume: 7
Date: 2016
Publisher: FRONTIERS MEDIA SA
Place of Publication: LAUSANNE
ISSN: 1664-1078
Language: English
Faculty: Unspecified
Divisions: Unspecified
Subjects: no entry
Uncontrolled Keywords:
KeywordsLanguage
TELEVISION; SAMPLE; ANGER; FEAR; PERCEPTION; PSYCHOLOGY; APPRAISAL; APPEALMultiple languages
Psychology, MultidisciplinaryMultiple languages
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/25249

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