Personality Traits and Fans' Motives for Attention to Fictional Narratives

Personality Traits and Fans' Motives for Attention to Fictional Narratives

Laramie D. Taylor, Teresa Gil-Lopez
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3323-9.ch002
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Fans of fictional narratives are highly involved with and attentive to media texts. The present study investigated personality traits likely to influence the motivations that drive fans of fictional narratives to attend to their preferred texts and engage with other fans, drawing on Oliver and Raney's two-factor model of media enjoyment. In a survey of self-identified fans of fictional narratives or series (n = 401), respondents completed measures of the Big-5 personality traits, fan community involvement, cognitive flexibility, and hedonic and eudaimonic motives for viewing fan media content. Eudaimonic motives were associated with trait openness and cognitive flexibility. Hedonic motives were associated with conscientiousness and cognitive flexibility, but negatively associated with emotional stability.
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Recently, researchers have begun to apply empirical research tools to investigate what it means to be a fan of fictional narratives or texts. Fans of fictional narratives are those audience members whose sense of self, to at least some degree, is organized around a relationship with a text or series (Taylor, 2015, 2019); they think of themselves, or identify, as fans. This research has included investigations of the way fans engage their preferred texts, including modes of engagement centered on the text and on broader fan communities (Taylor, 2015), as well as the motives underlying those modes of engagement (Delmar, Sánchez-Martín, & Velázquez, 2018; Tsay-Vogel & Sanders, 2017). Fans of fictional narratives are more likely to approach fictional narratives seeking meaningful or profound, or eudaimonic, experiences (Delmar et al., 2018), and among fans, those with stronger eudaimonic motives are more likely to participate in fan communities (Tsay-Vogel & Sanders, 2017). Enjoyment of the text itself, however, remains a vitally important factor driving attention to fan texts (Lee & Taylor, 2014).

Fans’ tendency to (and interest in) intensely engage with texts in seeking both meaningful or profound experiences and pleasurable enjoyable experiences calls for an understanding, not merely description, of these motives. Understanding the source of these motivations becomes the next logical step. In the present chapter, we examine personality traits as predictors of eudaimonic and hedonic motives for fans’ attention to fictional narratives.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Openness: Open-mindedness, an ability or tendency to seek out new things, and an appreciation of beauty, curiosity, and variety. Its opposite is closed-mindedness.

Neuroticism: A tendency to be temperamental, often associated with greater worry, fear, frustration, anger, and anxiety. Its opposite is emotional stability.

Big Five: A constellation of five traits often used in describing personality. They are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Conscientiousness: A tendency to exhibit self-discipline or self-control. Its opposite might be disorganized.

Motive: The impelling force or impulse behind taking action, in this case behind attending to fan texts or engaging in fan communities.

Fan Communities: Collections of fans that associate or interact with one another around the object of their fanship. Examples include formally-organized fan clubs, groups of friends who gather to watch the latest installment of a series of which they are fans, and even the ever-shifting constellation of individual fans engaged in discussing a fan text in on online forum.

Eudaimonic Motives: A desire or impulse to experience a sense of meaning or profundity in response to a text.

Cognitive Flexibility: A tendency to be able to adapt mentally to new conditions and to entertain conflicting ideas simultaneously.

Hedonic Motives: A desire or impulse to experience a positive emotional (and often physiological) response to a text, possibly including humor, excitement, or suspense.

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