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Defining Viewer Typologies: Identifying Television Channel Repertoires in Multi-Channel Television Environments
Unformatted Document Text:  5 Selective Exposure The basis for Heeter’s hypothesis can be traced to an earlier notion of selective exposure. Joseph Klapper (1960) defined Selective Exposure as, “the tendency of people to expose themselves to mass communications in accord with their with their existing opinions and interests and to avoid unsympathetic material” (Klapper, p. 19). Klapper conceived that audiences cogently decide what they will watch or hear. Dolf Zillmann and Jennings Bryant made advances in this area of study by expanding on Klapper’s concept of Selective Exposure. Zillmann and Bryant investigated, what many considered to be the missing element of Klapper’s theory, whether audiences affectingly (emotionally) determine what they will watch or hear. “Often – though by no means always – persons will simply do things or make selections spontaneously or on impulse” (Zillmann/Bryant, p. 161). Zillmann and Bryant use a very broad definition of selective exposure. “Selective exposure designates behavior that is deliberately performed to attain and sustain perceptual control of particular stimulus events” (Zillmann/Bryant, p. 1). They proceed to include any activity regardless of attention level, as long as exposure occurs. “Selective exposure can be accomplished with little effort, or it may require a great expenditure of energy.” (Zillmann/Bryant, p. 2) Zillmann and Bryant also proceeded to develop an operatory model to further explain the process a media user may employ to rearrange his environment through channel switching activity. This model states that a media user will sample a variety of media offerings, either by mindless probing or by directed choice. The user will continue the offering process until a selection is encountered that causes the user to become pleasurably reinforced. This pleasurable reinforcement is primarily an immediate affective reaction. Rejected samples will remain in short-term memory and will be compared to future samplings until finally the user eventually determines which media sampling will be the most pleasurable. Past experiences also may play a role in this decision-making process. In describing how their model relates to selective exposure Zillmann and Bryant wrote, “The outlined choice model for selective exposure differs considerably from choice models that assume complex cognitive operations in the framework of sophisticated evaluation criteria.” (Zillmann/Bryant, p. 162) “The selection of particular programs may be thought out and planned. But it may also be spontaneous and rather mindless, even mechanically determined.” (Zillmann/Bryant, p. 4) As one can see, Zillmann and Bryant are abundantly clear they are not testing selective exposure as it was originally written. They, in fact, have added another aspect to selective exposure. They have added the missing affective aspect. While they make no claims that emotions solely drive audiences, they do claim emotions can

Authors: Reber, Bryan. and Harriss, Chandler.
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5
Selective Exposure
The basis for Heeter’s hypothesis can be traced to an earlier notion of selective exposure. Joseph Klapper (1960)
defined Selective Exposure as, “the tendency of people to expose themselves to mass communications in accord with
their with their existing opinions and interests and to avoid unsympathetic material” (Klapper, p. 19).
Klapper conceived that audiences cogently decide what they will watch or hear. Dolf Zillmann and Jennings
Bryant made advances in this area of study by expanding on Klapper’s concept of Selective Exposure. Zillmann and
Bryant investigated, what many considered to be the missing element of Klapper’s theory, whether audiences
affectingly (emotionally) determine what they will watch or hear. “Often – though by no means always – persons will
simply do things or make selections spontaneously or on impulse” (Zillmann/Bryant, p. 161).
Zillmann and Bryant use a very broad definition of selective exposure. “Selective exposure designates behavior
that is deliberately performed to attain and sustain perceptual control of particular stimulus events” (Zillmann/Bryant,
p. 1). They proceed to include any activity regardless of attention level, as long as exposure occurs. “Selective
exposure can be accomplished with little effort, or it may require a great expenditure of energy.” (Zillmann/Bryant, p.
2)
Zillmann and Bryant also proceeded to develop an operatory model to further explain the process a media user
may employ to rearrange his environment through channel switching activity. This model states that a media user will
sample a variety of media offerings, either by mindless probing or by directed choice. The user will continue the
offering process until a selection is encountered that causes the user to become pleasurably reinforced. This
pleasurable reinforcement is primarily an immediate affective reaction. Rejected samples will remain in short-term
memory and will be compared to future samplings until finally the user eventually determines which media sampling
will be the most pleasurable. Past experiences also may play a role in this decision-making process.
In describing how their model relates to selective exposure Zillmann and Bryant wrote, “The outlined choice
model for selective exposure differs considerably from choice models that assume complex cognitive operations in the
framework of sophisticated evaluation criteria.” (Zillmann/Bryant, p. 162) “The selection of particular programs may
be thought out and planned. But it may also be spontaneous and rather mindless, even mechanically determined.”
(Zillmann/Bryant, p. 4)
As one can see, Zillmann and Bryant are abundantly clear they are not testing selective exposure as it was
originally written. They, in fact, have added another aspect to selective exposure. They have added the missing
affective aspect. While they make no claims that emotions solely drive audiences, they do claim emotions can


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