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What are the various reasons people use media as discussed in "Uses and Gratifications Theory (UGT)," and which information processing path of the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) might be used in an example of UGT?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Blumler and Katz uses and gratification model originally posited four reasons for why people use media: diversion, personal relationships, personal identity, and information gathering called "surveillance."

  • Diversion: emotional escape or release from tension or worry.
  • Personal Relationship: social grouping and companionship.
  • Personal Identity: reference to, exploration of, or reinforcement of self-definition, social and cultural reality, and values or ethics.
  • Surveillance: information gathering, e.g., documentaries.

Further work by Katz and other researchers has expanded the original four so that now Katz, Gurevitch and Haas's five categories of gratification are accepted:

  • Cognitive needs
  • Affective needs
  • Personal integrative needs
  • Social integrative needs
  • Tension release needs

The major differences between the original and the updated lists are that emotional needs and pleasure have been separated from tension release needs (formerly diversion) and social needs have been separated from personal needs (formerly personal identity).

One example of tension release need (formerly diversion) is choosing either a television broadcast or an Internet broadcast of, let's say, the Super Bowl Game. The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) route that would be at work here is the peripheral route that does not require high level cognitive function. Peripheral route processes do not require elaboration of argumentation, of the message presented, the arguments used, or the merits of the argument used for persuasion. In a contrasting example, choosing to watch the film Quantum Activist on DVD or on the Internet requires ELM central route processing. Great cognitive elaboration is required for the argument used, the merit of the argument, the message presented, and the general means of argumentation.