Elevation in Response to Entertainment Portrayals of Moral Virtue

Mary Beth Oliver, Tilo Hartmann, Julia K. Woolley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations

Abstract

Media psychologists have long puzzled over how individuals can experience enjoyment from entertainment such as tragedies that often elicit profound feelings of sadness. The present research examines the idea that a focus on "meaningful" entertainment and affective responses identified as "elevation" may provide a framework for understanding many examples of sad or dramatic entertainment. The results of this study suggest that many types of meaningful cinematic entertainment feature portrayals of moral virtues (e.g., altruism). These portrayals, in turn, elicit feelings of elevation (e.g., inspiration) that are signified in terms of mixed affect and unique physical responses (e.g., lump in throat). Ultimately, elevation also gives rise to motivations to embody moral virtues, such as being a better person or helping others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-378
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Communication Research
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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