Television Viewing and Physiological Arousal
American television has often been characterized as the nation’s favorite unwinder. Indeed, surveys probing viewers’ motives for watching television (Atkin, 1985; Bower, 1973; Rosengren, Wenner, & Palmgreen, 1985; Rubin, 1986) tend to confirm that consumption of television entertainment is primarily ascribed to a need for relaxation. Apparently, many viewers feel that television’s entertainment fare can help them to calm down after the stressful activities of daily life. Televi sion, then, is being viewed as an antidote to the rousing “fight for survival” in society. But the surveys also reveal that the consumption of televised entertain ment is often attributed to an urge for excitement. Many viewers, it seems, seek to overcome an uneventful, dull, and boring state of affairs by exposing them selves to television’s diversionary stimulation in hopes of being aroused.