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Uses and Gratifications Theory
One particular media theory may help us understand the potential influence of media on body
image and body image disorders. The Uses and Gratifications theory, developed by Harold
Laswell, explains how people use media (Potter, 2012, p. 75). According to Rubin (2002) and
Potter (2012), viewers are active communicators and not passive recipients of messages. The
Uses and Gratifications theory claims people have two main motives for seeking out media
messages; information and entertainment (Potter, 2012). According to the Uses and
Gratifications Theory, people use the media to fulfil different needs. Researchers have
conceptualized five different categories:
● Cognitive needs: people may use media to gain knowledge, become informed.
● Affective needs: includes all emotions. People use the media for emotional needs, crying,
pleasure, etc.
● Personal Integrative needs: people use media to satisfy their wants and needs by improving
their personal status. For example, someone may watch ads for cars, or expensive products.
Through this media, they have a basis for where they are in society.
● Social Integrative needs: people use the media to interact and socialize with others. For
example, people may use Facebook or other social media outlets to connect and interact with
others. In addition, people may watch a specific program so later they can discuss it in a
social setting.
● Tension free needs: people use media to escape, relax, enjoy, withdraw, and unwind. How
one person fits into these categories is dependent upon the individual. Not every person will
fall into every category. People may watch the same television program but for different
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needs. For example, some people may watch a reality show because it is entertaining,
controversial, relatable, and/or realistic.
It is possible people use traditional media and new media, such as the Internet, for
different reasons. In the case of young women with eating disorders, they could potentially be
using these pro-ed websites for cognitive reasonsto learn how to become better at their
eating disorder, learn new diet techniques, or how to hide their disordered behavior. Perhaps
other users of these pro-ed sites are fulfilling their affective needs by gaining support from
other online users, and by reaching out to those who share in their disease. These women
could be using these sites to escape, which falls into tension-free needs; they could also be
watching these sites to fulfil their personal and social integrative needs. The blog sites feature
several young, skinny women who are presented as having a body to envy. In the minds of
these women suffering from eating disorders, the bodies shown on these sites might seem
socially acceptable, and to an extreme extentmuch like having an expensive car, watch,
house, etc. Users could be viewing these sites as a means to understand what is socially
acceptable and as a basis for their own appearance.
Not all researchers believe Uses and Gratifications offer an effective model for understanding
the human relationship to mass communication. Some researchers argue that the Uses and
Gratifications Theory suggests the idea of an active audience in which people seek out 21
their media, versus a passive recipient of messages (Rubin, 2002). However, the Uses and
Gratifications model can offer a framework in which the researcher can begin to code and
categorize data based on the motivational categories mentioned by the Uses and
Gratifications Theory. Rubin argues, “People are relatively active participants who choose
media content” (Rubin, 2002, p. 167). With the rise in progressive communication
technology, people have even more control over what media they seek out and through which
communication vehicle they seek such media. This study is exploratory and using the Uses
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and Gratifications, theory has been effective in this study and the other studies recently cited.
The results presented will encourage further research in the area of eating disorder blog
communities.
References
Rubin, A. M. (2002). The uses-and-gratifications perspective of media effects. In J. Bryant &
D. Zillmann (eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 525-548).
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Potter, J. (2012). Media effects. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Uses and Gratifications Theory One particular media theory may help us understand the potential influence of media on body image and body image disorders. The Uses and Gratifications theory, developed by Harold Laswell, explains how people use media (Potter, 2012, p. 75). According to Rubin (2002) and Potter (2012), viewers are active communicators and not passive recipients of messages. The Uses and Gratifications theory claims people have two main motives for seeking out media messages; information and entertainment (Potter, 2012). According to the Uses and Gratifications Theory, people use the media to fulfil different needs. Researchers have conceptualized five different categories: ● Cognitive needs: people may use media to gain knowledge, become informed. ● Affective needs: includes all emotions. People use the media for emotional needs, crying, pleasure, etc. ● Personal Integrative needs: people use media to satisfy their wants and needs by improving their personal status. For example, someone may watch ads for cars, or expensive products. Through this media, they have a basis for where they are in society. ● Social Integrative needs: people use the media to interact and socialize with others. For example, people may use Facebook or other social media outlets to connect and interact with others. In addition, people may watch a specific program so later they can discuss it in a social setting. ● Tension free needs: people use media to escape, relax, enjoy, withdraw, and unwind. How one person fits into these categories is dependent upon the individual. Not every person will fall into every category. People may watch the same television program but for different needs. For example, some people may watch a reality show because it is entertaining, controversial, relatable, and/or realistic. It is possible people use traditional media and new media, such as the Internet, for different reasons. In the case of young women with eating disorders, they could potentially be using these pro-ed websites for cognitive reasons–to learn how to become better at their eating disorder, learn new diet techniques, or how to hide their disordered behavior. Perhaps other users of these pro-ed sites are fulfilling their affective needs by gaining support from other online users, and by reaching out to those who share in their disease. These women could be using these sites to escape, which falls into tension-free needs; they could also be watching these sites to fulfil their personal and social integrative needs. The blog sites feature several young, skinny women who are presented as having a body to envy. In the minds of these women suffering from eating disorders, the bodies shown on these sites might seem socially acceptable, and to an extreme extent–much like having an expensive car, watch, house, etc. Users could be viewing these sites as a means to understand what is socially acceptable and as a basis for their own appearance. Not all researchers believe Uses and Gratifications offer an effective model for understanding the human relationship to mass communication. Some researchers argue that the Uses and Gratifications Theory suggests the idea of an active audience in which people seek out 21 their media, versus a passive recipient of messages (Rubin, 2002). However, the Uses and Gratifications model can offer a framework in which the researcher can begin to code and categorize data based on the motivational categories mentioned by the Uses and Gratifications Theory. Rubin argues, “People are relatively active participants who choose media content” (Rubin, 2002, p. 167). With the rise in progressive communication technology, people have even more control over what media they seek out and through which communication vehicle they seek such media. This study is exploratory and using the Uses and Gratifications, theory has been effective in this study and the other studies recently cited. The results presented will encourage further research in the area of eating disorder blog communities. References Rubin, A. M. (2002). The uses-and-gratifications perspective of media effects. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 525-548). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Potter, J. (2012). Media effects. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. Name: Description: ...
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