“That Show Really Spoke to Me!”: The Effects of Compatible Psychological Needs and Talk Show Host Style on Audience Activity

Stephanie Edgerly, Melissa Gotlieb, Emily Vraga


One recent change in the U.S. media landscape is the shift toward specialized audiences consuming specialized news content. With this trend as a backdrop, this study argues that viewers of a news talk show are more involved with the show’s content when the style of the show is compatible with their psychological needs. This proposition is tested across two instances of compatibility: a host promoting critical debate and viewers with a high need for cognition, and a host promoting humorous commentary and viewers with a high need for humor. Results from an experimental design support the compatibility argument. When compatibility occurred, respondents perceived the program as more relevant, which in turn increased cognitive and behavioral activity regarding the program’s content.


news audiences, uses and gratifications, experiment, need for cognition, need for humor

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