How does what young people look for in films differ from what older adults look for?

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Participants in three age ranges (younger adults, 18-25, N = 188; middle adults, 26-49, N = 92; and older adults, 50 and over, N = 93) completed a questionnaire assessing motivations for everyday affective experiences as well as affective motivations for film viewing. In line with Arnett’s (2000) view of emerging adulthood and Carstensen, Isaacowitz, and Charles’s (1999) theory of socioemotional selectivity, younger adults expressed the greatest interest in experiencing negative emotions in their everyday lives, in viewing dark, creepy, or violent content, and in viewing media to escape boredom and for amusement; older adults were most interested in experiencing emotional stability and in viewing films with uplifting, heartwarming content. Results suggest that lifespan differences may help explain the allure of hedonically negative programming among some groups.

Source: “Age Differences in Adults’ Emotional Motivations for Exposure to Films” from Media Psychology, Volume 11, Issue 4 October 2008 , pages 488 – 511

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