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A Social Cognitive Explanation of Internet Uses and Gratifications: Toward a New Theory of Media Attendance
Unformatted Document Text:  to have been lost over the years, buried in the factor structure of “entertainment” and “pass time” gratifications. Research comparing models of displacement between television and the Internet might be revisited in this light. Some departures from Uses and gratifications are perhaps also in order. The present findings are consistent with the view that active selection of media content and media channels takes place only at the habit formation stage. That might happen either when, as the case of the Internet, a new medium is introduced or when there is some disruption of personal routines. Thereafter, media consumption is primarily habitual and automatic as the once-active media selection thought processes fade into memory. There is still active monitoring of media consumption taking place, but not the type of active seeking of gratifications that Uses and gratifications posits. Instead, only the general levels of media consumption are being monitored. That is, once habitual consumption patterns are established users no longer think much about whether the Internet or a phone call is a better way of “gratifying” a need for social interaction. Perhaps that explains why teens and young adults no longer prefer the telephone over computer-mediated- communication (Pew Research Center, 2002b). Users perhaps still monitor their overall level of Internet usage and apply self-reactive incentives to either increase or decrease the amount of usage to appropriate levels. But some users may lose the power to self-regulate their own consumption as well, perhaps through a process of operant conditioning (cf. LaRose et al., 2002) at which point they might be said to have a media addiction, or media dependency. SCT provides a framework for integrating Uses and gratifications mechanisms with these competing influences on individual media attendance.

Authors: Eastin, Matthew. and Larose, Robert.
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to have been lost over the years, buried in the factor structure of “entertainment” and
“pass time” gratifications. Research comparing models of displacement between
television and the Internet might be revisited in this light.
Some departures from Uses and gratifications are perhaps also in order. The
present findings are consistent with the view that active selection of media content and
media channels takes place only at the habit formation stage. That might happen either
when, as the case of the Internet, a new medium is introduced or when there is some
disruption of personal routines. Thereafter, media consumption is primarily habitual and
automatic as the once-active media selection thought processes fade into memory. There
is still active monitoring of media consumption taking place, but not the type of active
seeking of gratifications that Uses and gratifications posits. Instead, only the general
levels of media consumption are being monitored. That is, once habitual consumption
patterns are established users no longer think much about whether the Internet or a phone
call is a better way of “gratifying” a need for social interaction. Perhaps that explains why
teens and young adults no longer prefer the telephone over computer-mediated-
communication (Pew Research Center, 2002b). Users perhaps still monitor their overall
level of Internet usage and apply self-reactive incentives to either increase or decrease the
amount of usage to appropriate levels. But some users may lose the power to self-regulate
their own consumption as well, perhaps through a process of operant conditioning (cf.
LaRose et al., 2002) at which point they might be said to have a media addiction, or
media dependency. SCT provides a framework for integrating Uses and gratifications
mechanisms with these competing influences on individual media attendance.


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