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Blumler, Jay G., Dennis Mc Quail & J. R. Brown: 'The Conduct of Exploratory Research into the Social Origins of Broadcasting Audiences'

Particip@tions Volume 1, Issue 1 (November 2003)

 

Chapter 5

The Development of an Instrument Designed to Investigate the Gratifications Sought from Television in General

 

Introduction 

While continuing to execute individual programme studies, the need for a more ‘general instrument’, capable of measuring the gratifications sought from the medium of television as a whole, was kept in mind.  Although this need could not be met merely by increasing the number of programme studies, the latter made a vital contribution to the development of such an instrument in two ways. First, by providing convincing evidence that different kinds of programme attracted similar and overlapping gratification structures, they tended to confirm the viability of the underlying concepts that a general instrument would be expected to operationalise. Second, they supplied the raw material for many of the items that were included in different trial versions of the desired technique.

As the project’s series of programme studies was being carried out, a methodical exploration of more general question formats was also being undertaken, and this chapter describes the main stages through which a possible instrument was developed. The culmination of this sequence of effort was a data-collection procedure that was incorporated into the third and final survey of the project’s first stage (conducted in July, 1970). Only a preliminary analysis of the resulting data can be reported at this time, but the outcome suggests that a general instrument similar to the one developed can be used to achieve the objectives of the second stage of the envisaged research.

 

The Place of a General Instrument in the Proposed Research

The central thesis of the project involves a rejection of the notion of the mass audience. The audience for a medium of communication consists of individuals whose relationships to it are differentially structured according to their personalities and social experiences. Of course these relationships (which the investigators have termed ‘media-person interactions’) are themselves the products of numerous interacting influences and causal factors. A paramount aim of the project is to classify some of the important audience relationships to television into their main types and to look for certain (i.e. sociological) explanations of them. Although individual programme studies have proved successful in tracing the satisfactions sought from certain media materials back to the social origins of requirements for particular gratifications, this detailed but piecemeal approach cannot for practical reasons be applied to all programmes. Neither would it provide answers to questions about orientations to the medium as a whole. Description and analysis at a higher level of generality are called for, and consequently different techniques are also required.

The difficulties involved in trying to devise a suitable approach are numerous and formidable, however, as the following pages attest. Perhaps the key problem stems from the need for a general instrument itself.  How does one ask viewers why they watch television as such, without running the two-fold risk a) of inviting references to a highly generalised image of what the medium should be used for and b) of losing all that rich concrete motivational content that evidently forges the attachment of audience members to particular programmes? The investigators’ final solution to this problem enabled respondents to relate a set of individual gratification items to a set of specific programmes, the latter having been chosen by a procedure that ensured they represented a sample of the individual’s recent viewing activities. But before arriving at this approach much exploratory work was undertaken, the four main stages of which are outlined below.

Repertory Grid Interviews

As a first attempt to grapple with the elements of a general approach to the study of TV gratifications, it was decided to try out the repertory grid interview technique. This seemed promising because it provides standardised procedures for eliciting qualitative data from respondents in a form that is amenable to statistical analysis. The outcome portrays in nearly spatial terms the relationships to each other of the key components of a person’s ideas about a subject.

Consequently, fifteen repertory grid interviews, lasting from one to three hours, were conducted in January, 1970, in the Leeds area.  In each case an identical sequence of activities was followed.  First, the respondent was asked to sort 60 cards, each bearing the name of the television programme, in such a way that his favourite programmes (aiming at approximately ten) were placed in our pile. The remaining cards were then removed, and only the favourites were used thereafter. At this point a method of triads was employed to elicit constructs from the respondent. That is, the interviewer chose three of the respondent’s favourite programmes at random and asked him to say which two of them gave him something that the third did not provide. After the dimension of distinction (or construct) underlying the respondent’s choice was elicited, the same procedure was followed with another set of three programmes, and so on until no fresh constructs emerged.[1] Finally, the respondent was asked to rank all of his ten favourite programmes on each of his constructs.

One example of the material that such an interview can yield, and of how it can be analysed, is presented here. In this case the respondent was a 40-year-old milkman, who produced the following eight constructs out of comparison and contrasts among 12 favourite programmes:

1.      Covers many things – covers only one topic.

2.      Makes me feel nostalgic – is viewed just for pleasure.

3.      Produces feelings of frustration and helpless – does not make me feel that way.

4.      Entertaining; you can sit back and enjoy it with a blank mind – tells you about things that are happening.

5.      Gives you other people’s opinions and views – gives you knowledge.

6.      Serious and heavy – light-hearted.

7.      Challenges one’s own opinions – enjoyable without having to work at it.

8.      Like best – like least.

The first step in analysing these data was to draw up the following table, showing how the respondent’s favourite programmes had been ranked on each of these constructs (using in each case the left-hand criterion in the above list).

 

TABLE V.1

One Respondent’s Ranking of Elements (Favourite TV Programmes) on Constructs (Features of Programmes)

Constructs

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
University Challenge 6 4 19 6 12 9 10 8
Calendar 3 11 8 7 11 12 9 3
All Our Yesterdays 7 12 9 5 7 5 11 12
Match of the Day 12 2 2 2 8 10 4 1
Panorama 2 9 3 10 3 1 6 5
Yorksport 9 3 7 3 9 7 3 9
The Question Why 8 6 11 8 1 4 1 11
Please Sir 11 5 12 1 5 8 12 7
News at Ten 1 10 1 12 6 11 8 2
World in Action 5 8 4 9 4 2 7 6
Sportsnight with Coleman 10 1 6 4 10 6 2 10
24 Hours 4 7 5 11 2 3 5 4

 

Spearman’s rho (a rank order coefficient of correlation) was then calculated to express the relationships between all pairs of constructs.  In order to extend the scale on which these associations could be visualised (converting the scoring range of rho from +1 to –1 into +100 to –100), each value of rho was squared and multiplied by 100, giving the matrix of relationship scores that appears in Table V.2.

 

TABLE V.2

Matrix of Relationship Scores between One Respondent’s Constructs

Constructs

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

1

 

 -54.8

+14.3

 -80.1

  +3.6

  +1.3

  -5.3

  +0.1

2

 

 

       0

+33.8

   -6.7

   -0.7

+26.8

  -1.4

3

 

 

 

 -24.3

  +1.1

  +0.1

  +7.5

+45.1

4

 

 

 

 

 -21.9

 -10.3

   -0.5

  -8.6

5

 

 

 

 

 

+41.5

  +5.3

       0

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

  +8.6

-14.8

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  -0.9

 

 

 

 

 

When such relationship scores are summated regardless of sign, the resulting figures express the amount of common variance which is accounted for by each construct:

Construct:

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Total Relationship Scores

 

159

 

124

 

92

 

179

 

80

 

77

 

55

 

71

 

The next stage of the analysis aimed to identify those constructs which accounted for the greatest amount of variance while being unrelated (orthogonal) to each other.  The figures immediately above show that the first dominant construct is 4 (total relationship score = 179). Although 4 is followed in magnitude by 1 and 2, according to Table V.2 these constructs are significantly related to 4.[2] Construct 3, therefore, accounts for the next highest proportion of variance while being unrelated to 4.  Therefore, constructs 3 and 4 are presented as orthogonal axes in Figure V.1 over, while the remaining constructs could be plotted into the resulting space.

Seven of the repertory grid interviews were intensively analysed in this manner, and four main conclusions were drawn from the exercise as a whole. First, it was clear that detailed repertory grid interviewing could elicit a rich and wide range of orientations to TV output, even from viewers with a minimal education. On the other hand, it was difficult to confine the resulting constructs to the gratification survey as such (e.g. the milkman’s descriptive dimension of the number of topics covered in a programme); excessively general dimensions could emerge (e.g. the milkman’s liked best/liked least); and the procedure sometimes sacrificed logic to empiricism (e.g. the milkman’s contrast of nostalgia to pleasure). Second, the analysis of repertory grid material showed that respondents’ ideas about programmes had structured relationships – that is they were opposed to and inter-related with each other in patterned and probably stable ways. Third, it was evident that, for any individual, different programmes could be ranked on the main dimensions of judgement and that, for groups of respondents, separate profiles for each programme might conceivably be drawn. On the other hand, the latter possibility was substantially frustrated by a fourth and more fundamental feature of the data: considerable variation between respondents in the number and types of constructs that were produced.[3] Although the repertory grid analysis could facilitate an intensive exploration of the structure of an individual’s outlook, it did not lend itself to a generation of a common repertoire of constructs which could be applied across respondents. In that sense it was literally unsuited to the provision of a general instrument.

A Second Model of a General Instrument

Experience with the repertory grid technique having highlighted the problem of securing comparable data from all interviews, it was decided that greater reliance should be placed on recognition by the respondent of pre-formulated items that matched his dispositions and reactions. What was needed was a workable method of getting respondents to relate a set of individual gratification statements to a series of programmes. The first attempt to satisfy this criterion was embodied in an item that was administered in the second survey to the fans of quiz programmes. It so happens that this item was limited in its application to one programme type, for at this stage the investigators were mainly seeking answers to three questions about the practicality and utility of a particular question format:

1.      Could interviewers successfully administer the complex procedures involved in such a model of a general instrument?

2.      Would viewers respond to them without boredom, fatigue and ensuing bias?

3.      Would analysis of the generated data discriminate between groups of respondents according to the particulars of their social background?

Should these questions be answered affirmatively, the task of expanding the range of programmes under investigation could be tackled next.

Details of question-wording, format layout and instructions to interviewers may be gleaned by consulting item 14 of the Coronation Street/Quiz questionnaire in the Appendix. In essence, viewers who had ever seen at least three of four quiz programmes (Ask The Family, TV Brain of Britain, Top of the Form and University Challenge) were given a card bearing the following five reasons for watching such programmes:[4] 

A.     It helps me to pick up useful information.

B.     I like to try to pick the winners.

C.     It’s nice to see the contestants taken down a peg or two.

D.     I enjoy it when a likeable contestant does well.

E.      It is very satisfying when I get a question right.

The respondent then ranked all the programmes as vehicles for providing each of the designated gratifications in turn (e.g. Top of the Form might be best for supplying useful information, Brain of Britain next best for that purpose and so on). In addition, the respondent was asked to rank the programmes for their importance to him personally.

Interviewer reports and questionnaire inspection indicated that, once the interviewer had become versed in the procedure of administration, neither she nor the respondent encountered much difficulty.  From these points of view the exercise was deemed a success, and the format was not regarded as unduly complex for use on a wider scale. But did it discriminate between groups? To test this, the sample was divided by sex into two sub-groups. The raw data were tabulated as rank frequency distributions for each programme on each item (as well as for preferences). For each distribution the sum of ranks (Rj) and number of responses was calculated. Since there was variation between respondents in the number of programmes ranked (three or four), the maximum Rj range was not consistent.  Therefore Rj was re-scored to fall within a standardised range of 1-100 in such a way that the size of Rj, and the rank-order importance of the item for the group, were inversely related. That is, a score of 100 would indicate that all the respondents had agreed that a particular programme was least suited to providing the designated satisfaction. The results are presented in Table V.3.

 

 

PROGRAMMES

 

Reason for Watching TV Quiz Programmes

Ask The Family

University Challenge

TV Brain of Britain

Top of the Form

 

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

A. It helps me to pick up useful information

60

49

59

65

57

56

77

78

B. I like to try to pick the winner

71

52

55

68

60

68

71

68

C. It’s nice to see the contestants taken down a peg or two

74

84

44

41

54

47

92

100

D. I enjoy it when a likeable contestant does well

66

55

66

76

54

59

61

64

E. It is very satisfying when I get a question right

71

65

41

49

54

46

87

92

Programme preference

62

48

52

61

68

70

74

78

 

It can be seen that this procedure has managed to pinpoint a number of sex differences in the gratifications the respondents associated with individual quiz programmes. The favourite programme of the men was University Challenge, whereas the women’s favourite was Ask The Family, and these preferences were to some extent reflected in the rankings of the programmes on the various gratification statements (notably on item B – enjoying trying to pick the winners). Nevertheless, whereas women rated Ask The Family as best for acquiring useful information (item A), men found TV Brain of Britain best for that purpose, and a similar pattern emerged from the responses to item D (appreciating seeing likeable contestants do well on a programme). And whereas men most enjoyed getting the rights answers to the questions asked on University Challenge (item E), women found TV Brain of Britain most satisfying in that respect.

The reactions to item C, ‘It’s nice to see the contestants taken down a peg or two’, proved quite provocative. Both sexes agreed that University Challenge (with its supposed teams of well-educated competitors) was the most potent source of this satisfaction and that Top of the Form (featuring children) was least likely to supply it. It was intriguing to find, therefore, that when the gratification statements themselves were ranked for their importance to the respondent, the anti-contestant function of quizzes came last in the batting order for both sexes. Yet University Challenge was regarded very highly by both sexes precisely for the opportunities it offered for seeing the contestants make mistakes. This pattern strongly suggests that, whereas the direct rankings of the gratification statements had been influenced by considerations of social acceptability (people did not like to admit that they were moved by hostility to performers), more complex procedures, involving the application of such statements of named programmes, had helped to overcome this possible source of bias.

Thus this format had passed the three tests of its suitability that had been posed in advance and revealed an additional advantage as well. But two problems had still to be tackled in further work on a general instrument:

1.  Since the ranking of programmes on statements provides only a limited (and a laborious) basis for quantitative analysis, some method of generating raw data amenable to wider range of statistical calculations was needed.

2.  A way of eliciting ratings of a sample of television programmes that would be representative of respondents' more general viewing patterns had yet to be devised.

A Third Approach to a General Instrument

To meet the first requirement, a simple two-point rating scale (endorse/not endorse) replaced the ranking procedure. Involving less work for the respondent, this allowed the total number of programmes to be rated to be substantially increased.  Instead of four quizzes, 12 well-known and popular current programmes were incorporated into the next version of a general instrument. A total of 21 gratifications was also included, many of the meanings of which were drawn from previous project activities – e.g. group discussions, repertory grid interviews and the outcomes of the Dales and quiz cluster analyses.  The resulting two-page form, which was designed for self-completion and postal return, and was sent in June, 1970, to 20 adults living in the Leeds area, is reproduced in full below.

Only 13 people returned forms, and this low response, plus an inspection of endorsement patterns, helped to identify four problems that still demanded attention. First, a few gratification statements had not been endorsed while others had been applied to programmes in a stereotyped fashion. To counteract these tendencies the offending items were carefully reworded. Second, since the low rate of return was ascribed partly to a poor standard of format arrangement, an attempt was made to design a neater and more attractive version. Third, it was suspected that some respondents needed a more personal explanation of what was expected of them when completing the form. This suggested that, in the first instance at least, it should be presented to them by an interviewer and not through the post. Finally, the method of handling programmes was still unsatisfactory, for a) their selection had been determined not by the viewers’ own behaviour but by external criteria (familiarity and popularity) and b) respondents necessarily had varied in the number of listed programmes they rated, since any on the form that had not recently been seen had first to be crossed out.

 

Here is a list of statements that people have made about TV programmes. Across the top of the page are the names of 12 TV programmes. First please cross out the names of any programmes that you have not seen during the last few months.

Now for each statement decide whether it expresses how you feel about any of the programmes that you have seen. Put a tick in the box under all those programmes to which the statement applies.  Work through all 20 statements in this way. If a statement does not express your feelings about any of the listed programmes, leave that row of boxes blank.

 

Stars on Sunday

Coronation Street World in Action

Des O’Connor

University Challenge

Callan

  Dad's Army

Wednesday Play

The Doctors

Sports-night with Coleman This is your Life

24 Hours

It sometimes makes me feel sad

                       

It’s a programme the whole family can enjoy

                       

It can be good company

                       

It is very exciting

                       

It keeps me in touch with what’s going on

                       

It makes me realise that others are worse off than me

                       

It’s something to talk about afterwards

                       
I like to imagine myself in the situations shown                        
It sometimes shed light on your own life                        
It helps me to forget my worries for a while                        

It’s a pleasant change from all the sex and violence you hear about these days

                       
Some of the people on the programme are like friends to me                        

It can be quite educational

                       

It can make you feel strongly about things

                       
It does you good, seeing people doing things you cannot do                        
It stands for some of the things I believe in                        

I fancy myself appearing on the programme

                       

It provides food for thought

                       

It is very relaxing

                       
It is about people like myself                        
It helps me to understand the problems other people face                        

 

The Final Version of a General Instrument

Attention was paid to all these requirements before a final version of a general instrument was prepared and administered, in July 1970, to the 177 participants in the third survey of the project’s first stage. The most important problem centred on the selection of programmes for inclusion in the form.  Several approaches were discussed and eventually an approximation to a random sampling of the individual respondent’s own viewing pattern was accepted as the most suitable.  In fact a two-stage selection procedure was followed. First, the investigators drew up a list of 59 programmes from the current editions of the Radio Times and TV Times, ensuring that all types of content were included.  These programmes were randomly assigned to five lists (four of 12 programmes and one of 11) for interviewer administration in the second sampling stage – which was incorporated into the interview itself by means of the following question:

Now I would like to ask you about some television programmes that you may have seen during the last week. I will read out a list of programmes. After each one please tell me whether you saw that programme during last week – that is, between Saturday, July 4th and Friday, July, 10th.

The interviewer rotated the order in which she read out the five lists to each respondent. Each time a programme had been seen by the respondent it was underlined, and the procedure was terminated as soon as ten programmes had been underline. Thus, all the respondents produced a full list of the ten programmes. The programme titles were then written at the heads of ten columns on the next page of the questionnaire, which was handed to the respondent as the interviewer proceeded to say:

Now I want you to listen to some things that people have said about why they like particular TV programmes. I’ll read out the statements one at a time. After each statement please enter a tick in the appropriate column if you feel that way feel that way yourself about any of the ten programmes on the list.

A further impression of what was involved can be formed by examining the accompanying copy of the actual endorsement page. Thus, the respondent ticked all the programmes on his sheet to which each of the 21 gratification statements applied. Of course a single statement could apply to any number of programmes – from none to ten. After this procedure was completed the respondent was finally asked to think again of the ten programmes and to designate, first, the three that he liked best and, second, the one that he liked least.

 

 

Programmes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the time available since July, 1970, it has not been possible to undertake a full analysis of the data generated by this instrument. Nevertheless three limited analyses have been completed; interviewers’ assessments of the form have been considered; and the role of such an instrument in a large-scale survey has been further defined.

All three data analyses were carried out on a 20% sample of the endorsements (produced by tabulating the sample members’ applications of all the 21 gratification statements to the first two programmes on their lists). First, the frequency of endorsement of each gratification item was counted – with the result shown in Table V.4. Although there was evidently much variation in the popularity of the items, none was endorsed to a negligible extent. Presumably both individuals, and groups of respondents, could be meaningfully distinguished according to the degree to which they had applied individual items or groups of items to the ten programmes they had seen in the week before the interview.

 

 

TABLE V.4

The Frequency of Endorsement of Gratification Items in Relation to Two Recently Viewed Programmes

 

2

It’s a programme the whole family can enjoy

191

11

It helps me to forget my worries for a while

143

3

It can be good company

139

18

It is very relaxing

124

1

It is very exciting

121

10

It is something to talk about afterwards

119

15

It can be quite educational

115

8

It’s a pleasant change from all the sex and violence you hear about these days

114

20

It provides food for thought

111

7

It keeps me in touch with what is going on

97

14

It’s good to see people doing things one wouldn’t normally do oneself

86

9

It can make you feel strongly about things

82

13

It makes me realise that others are worse off than me

73

5

It sometimes makes me sad

71

4

It helps me to understand the problems other people face

69

12

Some of the people on the programme have become like friends to me

59

19

People on the programme remind me of people I know

58

17

Sometimes it makes me think about my own life

48

6

I can imagine myself in some of the situations shown

46

21

It reflects the way I feel about things

38

16

I fancy myself appearing on the programme

29

 

Second, the associations between item-endorsements were examined. As a first indicator of linkages between items, the 21 x 21 contingency matrix set out in Table V.5 was produced. In itself this provides only an imperfect estimation of relationships, however, because of the differing frequencies of the endorsement of particular items. Yet there was sufficient time to have the data punched and programmed to provide a matrix of correlation coefficients. It was decided in the end to test the associations between the items by c2, the significance of which is equivalent to a significant relationship as measured by the phi coefficient.[5] Therefore the matrix was reproduced in a form which provided observed and expected cell entries, after which chi-squared values were calculated with results that are summarised in Table V.6. At the .01 level the various symbols in the table pick out significant positive relationships (+), significant negative relationships (-) and relationships that are not significant (0).

 

 

TABLE V.5

Contingency Matrix of Associated Gratification Item Endorsements

Item Numbers

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

1

 

57

47

25

21

17

21

34

24

52

60

20

23

39

37

13

16

34

19

35

14

2

 

 

78

32

29

23

29

71

26

52

77

27

24

33

36

15

20

64

27

40

14

3

 

 

 

27

29

21

21

60

20

56

77

34

22

31

32

16

14

60

48

34

11

4

 

 

 

 

46

24

50

19

51

46

25

31

45

17

54

4

29

16

20

57

17

5

 

 

 

 

 

18

29

19

38

35

20

10

36

14

35

4

24

12

15

35

16

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

19

28

23

18

11

21

12

18

8

23

10

16

17

13

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

44

57

26

14

42

24

56

9

20

18

16

56

16

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

42

60

25

16

34

32

20

11

55

21

27

9

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

48

25

14

44

17

51

8

31

15

19

54

22

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

49

23

34

41

56

18

24

45

28

63

18

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36

20

46

24

19

15

86

27

40

13

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

15

15

16

15

26

60

16

12

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24

40

5

27

16

21

42

19

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23

8

16

35

17

29

13

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

27

19

18

68

22

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

13

12

9

8

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

16

34

18

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19

28

9

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21

10

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

1

 

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

 

 

+

0

0

0

0

+

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

 

 

 

0

0

0

0

+

0

+

+

+

0

0

0

0

0

+

+

0

0

4

 

 

 

 

+

+

+

0

+

+

0

+

+

0

+

0

+

0

+

+

+

5

 

 

 

 

 

+

+

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

0

0

+

+

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

0

0

+

+

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

+

0

0

0

0

+

0

+

0

0

0

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

0

0

+

+

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

+

+

+

+

+

0

+

+

0

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+

0

+

+

0

+

0

0

0

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

0

+

+

0

+

0

+

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

+

0

+

0

+

+

+

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

+

0

+

+

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

+

0

+

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

+

+

+

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

0

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But do any patterns of associated items emerge from these tests of significant relationships? To help answer this question the data were rearranged yet again. For each pair of items a measure of correlations in common was produced. This depended on the number of times that the two items shared similar types of relationships (significant or not significant) to all the other 19 items. The application of this procedure had the effect of reforming the items into two large groups, one pair of items and one single item – group membership depending on the occurrence of a minimum number of twelve relationships in common.  These reorganised indicants of correlation are shown over:

 

Group A

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

21

0

0

0

+

+

+

+

0

+

0

0

+

+

0

+

+

+

0

0

+

 

13

0

0

0

+

+

+

+

0

+

+

0

0

 

0

+

0

+

0

+

+

+

17

0

0

0

+

+

+

+

0

+

+

0

+

+

0

+

0

 

0

+

+

+

4

0

0

0

 

+

+

+

0

+

+

0

+

+

0

+

0

+

0

+

+

+

5

0

0

0

+

 

+

+

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

0

0

+

+

9

0

0

0

+

+

+

+

0

 

+

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

0

0

+

+

20

0

0

0

+

+

0

+

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

0

0

 

+

7

0

0

0

+

+

0

 

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

0

0

+

+

15

0

0

0

+

+

0

+

0

+

+

0

+

0

 

0

+

0

+

+

6

0

0

0

+

+

 

0

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

0

0

+

0

+

0

+

Group B

19

0

0

+

+

0

+

0

0

0

+

0

+

+

0

0

+

+

0

 

0

0

12

0

0

+

+

0

0

0

0

0

0

+

 

0

0

0

+

+

0

+

0

+

16

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

+

0

+

+

+

0

0

0

 

0

0

+

0

+

3

0

+

 

0

0

0

0

+

0

+

+

+

0

0

0

0

0

+

+

0

0

8

0

+

+

0

0

0

0

 

0

0

+

0

0

0

0

+

0

+

0

0

0

11

+

0

+

0

0

0

0

+

0

0

 

+

0

+

+

0

+

0

0

0

18

0

0

+

0

0

0

0

+

0

0

+

0

0

0

0

0

 

0

0

0

2

0

 

+

0

0

0

0

+

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Group C

14

+

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

+

+

0

0

 

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

 

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

+

+

0

0

+

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Item 10

10

+

0

+

+

+

+

+

0

+

 

0

0

+

+

+

+

+

0

+

+

0

 

If the wordings of the items that have fallen into the various groups are now written out, it can be seen that they have been meaningfully constituted.

Group A

21. It reflects the way I feel about things.

13. It makes me realise others are worse off than me.

17. Sometimes it makes me think about my own life.

4. It helps me to understand the problems that other people face.

9. It can make you feel strongly about things.

20. It provides food for thought.

7. It keeps me in touch with what is going on.

15. It can be quite educational.

7. I can imagine myself in some of the situations shown.

 

Group B

19. People on the programme sometimes remind me of people I know.

12. Some of the people on the programme have become like friends to me.

16. I fancy myself appearing on the programme.

5. It can be good company.

8. It’s a pleasant change from all the sex and violence you hear about these days.

11. It helps me to forget my worries for a while.

17. It is very relaxing.

  2. It’s a programme the whole family enjoys.

 

Group C

13. It is good to see people doing things one wouldn’t normally do oneself.

 1. It is very exciting.

 

Item 10

10. It’s something to talk about afterwards.

 

Thus, Group A seems to unite many items that stand for a relatively serious involvement in programme material, while Group B seems, in contrast, to represent a more light-hearted and casual approach to television.  And whereas Group C stands for personal excitement, further inspection shows that item 10, representing the coin of exchange function, is moderately related to both Groups A and B. This suggests that deeper and more superficial orientations to programme materials are equally compatible with their deployment in conversations with other people.

Pending further analysis, no additional interpretations of the patterns of interrelationships of these items can be reported.  It would be necessary to make use of all the data and to calculate correlations more precisely.  It is true that if this was done the larger groups might divide into sub-groups, and other boundaries between items might be redrawn.  For the present, however, the main feature of this analysis is its encouraging indication that viewer responses to the general instrument had been guided by certain underlying dispositions that were reflected, in turn, in the patterns of relationships between endorsed items. This strengthens confidence in the suitability of this version of the form for collecting the kind of evidence that will be needed if the long-term objectives of the project are to be implemented.

Finally, the relationships between programme preferences and the number of gratification statements applied to individual programmes were examined in a third analysis. How often did the respondents’ three best-liked programmes coincide with those that had attracted the most numerous gratification endorsements?  How many times were their least-liked programmes also the least often endorsed?  The outcome of this analysis may be expressed in terms of the number of ‘hits’ and ‘misses’ (or occasions when these two ways of rating programmes had overlapped or diverged). Thus the extent to which the frequency of ‘hits’ exceed a chance expectation is an approximate measure of the degree to which favourable reactions to a programme may be a function of derived gratifications. Table V.6 presents the results of this analysis.

 

 

TABLE V.6

The Relationship between Programme Preferences and Frequency of Gratification Endorsements

 

Programmes Liked Best

Programmes Liked Least

  Expected Observed Expected Observed
Hits 140 283 15 69
Misses 328 185 135 81

Z (corrected for continuity) = 14.77            z = 14.53

Significant at P = .001 level                        Significant at P = .001 level

 

Again a more detailed analysis would be needed before the full implications of this outcome could be assessed.  However, the results already suggest a conclusion that is consistent with the underlying thesis of the project – namely, that popular and highly-rated programmes are not merely specimens of ‘moving wallpaper’, as some critics allege, but offer a complex and recognisable set of positive satisfactions to many users of television.

It should be noted in conclusion that only one interviewer experienced any difficulty in administering the form; and that otherwise the respondents showed every sign of understanding what they were expected to do and of being interested in the question procedures.  All this suggests that the original goal of instrument development may at last have been reached: to devise a manageable form on which meaningful and quantifiable gratification data related to the individual’s own viewing behaviour can be collected.  It is true that further preparatory work will be required to ensure the availability of a valid and reliable set of gratification items for incorporation into the instrument.  This will entail the holding of group discussions focused on the main gratification categories outlined in the investigators’ typology of media-person interactions; the administration of many item formulations to a quota sample; a cluster analysis of the resulting responses; and the drawing up of short one-to-three-item scales, representative of each of the main clusters, for inclusion in the kind of general instrument that has been evolved.  Thus, in the national sample survey envisaged for the project’s second stage, an individual respondent’s need for a particular type of satisfaction from TV would be measured by the number of times that he had applied the items belonging to its scale to ten programmes which he had recently seen.  The relationships between such scores and social background data, as examined by the AID computer program, would then facilitate a charting of the main social origins of the gratifications associated with television viewing.

 


 

[1]   The 15 interviews yielded a range of from four to twelve constructs and a mean of seven constructs.

[2]   Rho values reach significance at the five per cent level when they are equal to or exceed .564, producing an equivalent significance level for relationship scores above 32.

[3]   Compared with the milkman’s eight constructs, for example, another interviewee provided the following six dimensions of assessment of TV programmes:

1.        Requires attention – relaxing.

2.        Sexy – not sexy.

3.        Boring – amusing.

4.        Pleasing – realistic.

5.        Entertaining – important.

6.        Deals with humdrum everyday events – stimulating.

[4]   The items were formulated on an intuitive basis as representing a range of five possible approaches to quizzes.

[5]   The phi coefficient is a non-parametric measure of correlation …