Toward a Theory of Entertainment Persuasion: Explaining the Persuasive Effects of Entertainment-Education Messages

“The most commonly applied theory in the area of entertainment-education is SCT (Bandura, 1986, 2004; Sood et al., 2004). Most generally, SCT contends that in addition to direct, experiential learning, people learn vicariously by observing models (Bandura, 2002). That is, models, such as those on television, transmit ‘‘knowledge, values, cognitive skills, and new styles of behavior’’ to viewers (Bandura, 2004,p. 78). An important component of SCT is that not all observed behaviors are imitated. In particular, SCT specifies four cognitive subprocesses that govern observational learning, including attention, retention, production, and motivation. This final process, motivation, is a key part of the theory, accounting for the fact that people do not choose to engage in every behavior they learn (Bandura, 1986). Rather, an individual must be motivated to enact the behavior.” [Moyer-Guse. 2008:06]

When information is provided as entertainment, then the student spends less time concerned with memorising the details as a task. When immersed in a world for the purpose of pleasure or entertainment, students are more likely to take an interest in the fine details. Rather than with work assigned to them. If a student becomes actively interested in the subject, then gaining knowledge about the subject becomes a passion, rather than a task.

“There is theoretical reason to suggest that entertainment messages, using a more subtle form of persuasion, may overcome this type of reactance. Indeed, one unique aspect of entertainment-education programs is their narrative format, allowing a viewer to become ‘‘sucked in’’ to the world in which the drama takes place, reducing viewers’ perception that the message is persuasive in nature.” [Moyer-Guse. 2008: 08-09]

  • Moyer‐Gusé, E., 2008. Toward a theory of entertainment persuasion: Explaining the persuasive effects of entertainment‐education messages. Communication Theory, 18(3), pp.407-425.


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