Most of the theories on media explained about the effects media had on people. It is the theory which explains of how people use media for their need and gratification. In other words we can say this theory states what people do with media rather than what media does to people. Also this theory is contradictory to the magic bullet theory which states the audience is passive. According to uses and gratification theory, it is not so people make use of the media for their specific needs. This theory can be said to have a user/audience-centered approach .Even for communication (say inter-personal) people refer to the media for the topic they discuss with themselves. They gain more knowledge and that is knowledge is got by using media for reference. There are several needs and gratification for people they are categorized into five categories.
- Cognitive needs
- Affective needs
- Personal Integrative needs
- Social Integrative needs
- Tension free needs
People use media for acquiring knowledge, information etc., Among the audience some of them have intellectual needs to acquire knowledge this is not common to all only certain people have their need, each person have a different need for e.g. quiz programs on TV, in order to acquire knowledge and information you will watch news to satisfy the need, search engines in the internet, they make use of these to gain more knowledge. Particularly for the internet search engine they can browse for any topic under the run with no time restriction.
It includes all kinds of emotions, pleasure and other moods of the people. People use media like television to satisfy their emotional needs
The best example is people watch serials and if there is any emotional or sad scene means people used to cry.
Personal Integrative needs:
This is the self-esteem need. People use media to reassure their status, gain credibility and stabilize. so people watch TV and assure themselves that they have a status in society for e.g. people get to improve their status by watching media advertisements like jewelry ad , furniture’s ad and buy products, so the people change their life style and media helps them to do so.
Social Integrative needs:
It encompasses the need to socialize with family, friends and relations in the society. For social interaction now a days people do not seems to have social gathering in weekend, instead they do such social interaction using media like the social networking sites like my space, facebook, orkut etc to satisfy their need.
Another example is you may not watch the particular serial regularly but because your friend watching, you also start watching so that you have common topics for discussion.
Tension free needs:
People sometimes use the media as a means of escapism and to relieve from tension
For e.g. People tend to relax watching TV, listening to radio and for satisfying their need for entertainment there by relaxing from all the tension, people watch films, films on TV etc
Note: The needs are individual in nature, and how u satisfies the need is individualistic.
E.g.: That’s why some watch news to relax and some get more tension by watching news, Program is same but people use it for different needs.
Taking TV today, most people watch reality shows because
- It is more realistic
- For entertainment
- New concepts (different from other programs)
- In a way you can participate
- Controversy, people crying
The above reason is why we watch and how we use not because it’s popular.
Criticism of Uses and gratification theory :
- The uses and gratification theory does not consider the power of media
- More audience-centered
- Positive point of the uses and gratification theory is it focuses attention on individuals in the mass communication process.