Elevation in response to entertainment portrayals of moral virtue

M. B. Oliver, T. Hartmann, J. Woolley

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Media psychologists have long puzzled over how individuals can experience enjoyment from entertainment such as tragedies that often elicit profound feelings of sadness. The present research examines the idea that a focus on "meaningful" entertainment and affective responses identified as "elevation" may provide a framework for understanding many examples of sad or dramatic entertainment. The results of this study suggest that many types of meaningful cinematic entertainment feature portrayals of moral virtues (e.g., altruism). These portrayals, in turn, elicit feelings of elevation (e.g., inspiration) that are signified in terms of mixed affect and unique physical responses (e.g., lump in throat). Ultimately, elevation also gives rise to motivations to embody moral virtues, such as being a better person or helping others. © 2012 International Communication Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-378
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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