chapter  5
32 Pages

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.