Abstract

This paper lays out presence related formal aspects of media offerings suited to evoke mood management (Zillmann, 1988). Zillmann proposes that apart from other dimensions, the mood-impacting characteristics of media stimuli vary with the hedonic valence referring to the content (see also Knobloch-Westerwick, 2006). In this contribution, it is claimed that not only does the hedonic value vary with content, but also with formal characteristics of stimuli that refer to different types of media. In contrast to other investigations on mood management, these investigations focus on the reduction of aversive moods when exposed to certain media offerings. The investigations do not focus on the measurement of selected stimuli arrangements in terms of time and intensity.

To test this hypothesis, the current paper presents the results of two studies in which 66 participants were presented with film sequences in order to induce aggressive moods. In the first experiment, which served as a treatment check, it was shown that aggressive moods could be reduced more with televised exposures than with a waiting period. In a second experiment, participants having partaken in the experimental induction of aggressive moods were allocated to different experimental conditions that are classified according to formal aspects of hedonic valence: a television exposure condition, an internet surfing condition, and a chat condition. These activities can be numerically classified according to three axes, (i) the amount of sensory information, (ii) the extent of possible interactions, and (iii) the synchrony between sender and recipient. The resulting categorizations of certain media offerings (television exposure: 3, internet surfing: 9–11, and chatting: 8) simultaneously represent certain aspects of the concept of presence. Results show that the induced aggressive moods can be mostly reduced by the treatment (media offerings) with the highest number allocated (internet surfing). Moreover, the findings show an overall decrease of aggressive moods according to the increasing number from television to internet.

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