Based on uncertainty reduction theory, this paper argues that individuals were motivated to seek information and learn about the September 11 terrorist attacks to reduce uncertainty about what happened. Results from a panel survey indicate that negative emotional response was a strong predictor of efforts to learn. Analyses also show that relative increases in newspaper, television, and Internet use from Wave 1 to Wave 2 were positively related to efforts to learn about the attacks. The findings extend uncertainty reduction theory to the mass media context thereby contributing to our understanding of uses and gratifications.
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