Tamara Mattheiß, Carina Weinmann, Charlotte Löb, Katharina Rauhe, Katharina Bartsch, Franziska S. Roth, Sabine Spenkuch, Peter Vorderer
Political Learning Through Entertainment – Only an Illusion? How Motivations for Watching TV Political Talk Shows Influence Viewers’ Experiences

Journal of Media Psychology, 2013: 25, Heft 4, S. 171-179
ISSN: 1864-1105 (print); 2151-2388 (online)

The purpose of this study is to explain viewers’ entertainment and feelings of being informed when watching political talk shows on German TV, depending on their viewing motivations. First, an exploratory survey (N = 189) aims to identify the motivation. Results show that some participants had a strong interest in gaining political information by following such shows, while others simply watch them for entertainment purposes. Drawing on the concept of infotainment as well as on the elaboration likelihood model as a basis for entertainment and the feeling of being informed, four hypotheses are then tested in a 2 × 2 (focus on entertaining features versus focus on information × talk show containing a video clip versus talk show containing no video clip) experiment with 63 subjects. The results suggest that people felt better informed and were more entertained through political talk shows when watching them with a focus on entertaining features rather than with a focus on information. However, whether a talk show contained a video clip or not did not make any difference. The fact that a focus on entertaining features can induce a feeling of being informed reveals an interesting phenomenon, which is consistent with current developments in entertainment theory.