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A Social Cognitive Explanation of Internet Uses and Gratifications: Toward a New Theory of Media Attendance
Unformatted Document Text:  Self-regulation may normally be expected to moderate media consumption. Indeed, an experimental manipulation of self-regulation as it is understood in SCT reduced media usage (Robinson, 1999). However, when self-regulation fails increased media consumption may be expected. This issue has been conceptualized in terms of habit and deficient self-regulation (LaRose et al., 2002). A habit is simply a recurring behavior pattern. Habit is a well-established predictor of behavior (Triandis, 1980; Oulette & Wood, 1998) that has perhaps been somewhat overlooked in communication research (cf. Stone & Stone, 1990; Rosenstein & Grant, 1997). There, it has been associated with “ritualistic gratifications” such as passing time (after Rubin, 1984). However, there is a growing body of research (e.g. Aarts, Verplanken, & van Knippenberg, 1998; Bargh & Gollwitzer, 1994) suggesting that habit is a form of automaticity, a pattern of behavior (e.g. checking one’s email) that is triggered by an environmental stimulus (e.g. seeing one’s computer desktop in the morning) and performed without further active consideration. This is perhaps outside the realm of active media selection processes that are presumed by Uses and gratifications theorists. At best, automatic media consumption behaviors were initially framed by such active considerations, which were eventually forgotten (cf. Stone & Stone, 1990). We may have thought carefully about our communication options the first time we used email; for example, but by the hundredth time we did not. Within SCT we might describe this as a failure of the self-monitoring subfunction of self-regulation. Through frequent repetition we become inattentive to the reasoning behind our media behavior, our mind no longer devotes attention resources to the consideration of such routine behavior, freeing itself for more important decisions. In

Authors: Eastin, Matthew. and Larose, Robert.
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Self-regulation may normally be expected to moderate media consumption.
Indeed, an experimental manipulation of self-regulation as it is understood in SCT
reduced media usage (Robinson, 1999). However, when self-regulation fails increased
media consumption may be expected. This issue has been conceptualized in terms of
habit and deficient self-regulation (LaRose et al., 2002).
A habit is simply a recurring behavior pattern. Habit is a well-established
predictor of behavior (Triandis, 1980; Oulette & Wood, 1998) that has perhaps been
somewhat overlooked in communication research (cf. Stone & Stone, 1990; Rosenstein
& Grant, 1997). There, it has been associated with “ritualistic gratifications” such as
passing time (after Rubin, 1984). However, there is a growing body of research (e.g.
Aarts, Verplanken, & van Knippenberg, 1998; Bargh & Gollwitzer, 1994) suggesting that
habit is a form of automaticity, a pattern of behavior (e.g. checking one’s email) that is
triggered by an environmental stimulus (e.g. seeing one’s computer desktop in the
morning) and performed without further active consideration. This is perhaps outside the
realm of active media selection processes that are presumed by Uses and gratifications
theorists. At best, automatic media consumption behaviors were initially framed by such
active considerations, which were eventually forgotten (cf. Stone & Stone, 1990). We
may have thought carefully about our communication options the first time we used
email; for example, but by the hundredth time we did not.
Within SCT we might describe this as a failure of the self-monitoring subfunction
of self-regulation. Through frequent repetition we become inattentive to the reasoning
behind our media behavior, our mind no longer devotes attention resources to the
consideration of such routine behavior, freeing itself for more important decisions. In


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