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The Uses and Gratification theory discusses the effects of the media on people. It explains how people use the media for their own need and get satisfied when their needs are fulfilled. In other words, it can be said that the theory argues what people do with media rather than what media does to people. Also, this theory is in contradiction to the Magic Bullet theory, which states that the audience is passive. This theory has a user/audience-centered approach. Even for communication, say – interpersonal, people refer to the media for the topic to discuss among themselves. By referring the media, they gain more knowledge and exposure to the world beyond their limited eyesight.

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There are several needs and gratification for people. They are categorized into five needs.

  • Cognitive needs
  • Affective needs
  • Personal Integrative needs
  • Social Integrative needs
  • Tension free needs

Cognitive needs:

People use media for acquiring knowledge, information, facts, etc. Among the audience, some have the thirst to acquire intellectual and academic knowledge. This is not a very common phenomenon. Different people have different needs. For example, quiz programs on television give on factual knowledge; to know about current affairs people need to watch the news regularly; search engines on the internet are also very popular since people can browse for any topic easily under the run with no time restriction.

Affective needs:

It includes all kinds of emotions, pleasure and moods of the people. People use media; say television, to satisfy their emotional needs.

The best example would be when people get emotional or sometimes even they cry for a sad scene while watching the movie/soap opera.

Personal Integrative needs:

This is the self-esteem need. People use media to reassure their status, gain credibility and stabilize. So people watch television and assure themselves that they have a respectable status in society. For example, people watch advertisements in the media like jewellery ads, furniture ads, apparel ads, etc. and buy these products so that they can change their lifestyle. Hence the media helps them to do so.

Social Integrative needs:

It encompasses the need to socialize with family, friends and relations in society. For social interaction nowadays, people do not seem to gather socially during weekends instead they have turned to social networking sites on the internet such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr etc. to satisfy their needs.

Another example is people may start watching a particular programme, not because they have any self interest, but because their neighbour/friend watches it such that both the parties may have something in common to discuss.

Tension free needs:

People sometimes use the media as a means to escapism from the real world and to relieve from tension and stress.

For example, people tend to relax while watching television, listening to the radio, surfing the internet, etc. In fact, media has the power to grab audience mind since it makes them feel connected with the situation and characters emotionally.

Note: The needs are specific in nature to the individual and how the media satisfies the need is subjective. For example, some people may watch the news to relax while others may get tensed or agitated by the same. The media is the same, but people use it for different needs.

On television, most people watch reality shows nowadays not only its popular, but because of the following reasons:

  • It is more realistic.
  • It provides entertainment.
  • It is more interesting.
  • There are new concepts cropping up every now and then.
  • Viewers can participate as well in many ways while sitting at home.
  • Controversies are extensively covered.
  • Sensationalism brings in more viewers.

Criticism of Uses and gratification theory :

  • The uses and gratification theory does not bring into consideration the power of media.
  • It is more audience-oriented study.
  • Positive point of the uses and gratification theory is it focuses attention on individuals in the mass communication process.
  • It mainly focuses on people’s selectivity on media content rather than its unintended effects in their minds.
  • Researches of this theory conclude the results are subjective rather than objective.
{ 79 comments… add one }
  • Gen November 28, 2010, 11:27 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. This is well-written and well explained. Although this communication theory is one of the first to be conceptualized, still it applies to the way people would use the media especially with the advent of the Internet that even proves that the media isn’t just a tool but as a part of a person’s daily needs.

  • Gregoria .Valcin April 1, 2011, 1:16 am

    I really enjoy the comments, i think it’s informative, good analysis. I thank you for sharing i am taking a class in communication and it really helps me in be more analytical. Gregoria.

  • mecksy August 18, 2011, 3:11 pm

    Thanks to whoever wrote this. You totally rolled on point, and i understand this topic better. Thanks for helping out!

  • kelvin August 27, 2011, 8:48 am

    this article is really wonderful, it points out the psychological effect of infomation on people.

  • pheelah September 5, 2011, 2:35 pm

    well explained, thanks for your contribution to humanity

  • Blessing October 2, 2011, 3:43 am

    It’s simple and well explained. It has helped me in my assignment

  • Seraphim October 16, 2011, 11:25 pm

    Is AFFECTIVE NEEDS new?, because according to Denis Mcquail the user has 4 basic needs.

    Surveillance/information – cognitive
    personal identity – personal integrative
    personal relationships/integration &social – social integrative
    diversion/entertainment -tension free

  • mat power October 18, 2011, 3:49 pm

    gud one audience are neither passive nor in total control of media texts

  • maclean October 19, 2011, 2:44 pm

    it is good that this theory put emphasis on the audience but however, it must be noted that the media have the power to shape and direct human lives.media houses are profit oriented and are affected by ownership and control.in a nutshell the content is determined by those who own the media and the audience are subjected to the views of the owner.

  • Diana Nhira October 22, 2011, 12:18 pm

    thanks its really helpful ,i can easly understand the topic well.may the continue 2 bless u with more wisdom

  • Mutingwende Andrew November 3, 2011, 5:44 pm

    It opens up the brains and curses ignorance from it.I wish you would add up a bit

  • Dolapo Oluwa November 29, 2011, 7:52 pm

    Beautiful Piece….Helped me for my project

  • Zach December 6, 2011, 6:00 am

    thanks for the info dawg!!

  • Mike Mustafa February 24, 2012, 4:43 am

    Thanks for the detailed down-to-earth discussion on a topic that’s not so down-to-earth. I am writing my dissertation on Facebook use. I need an official definition of this term. Can you help me, please.

  • Courtney March 9, 2012, 6:55 pm

    i love you

  • Stan Ofulue March 28, 2012, 8:58 am

    Thanks so much for this wonderful and timely post, it is well explain and I have better knowledge and explanation of the topic for my exams. Remain blessed.

  • Ikem Benard May 26, 2012, 12:31 am

    this is a well articulated, yet precise treatment of the U & G theory, identifying perspectives undiscussed about U & G…… for future research (heuristically provocating).

  • Zadok June 2, 2012, 6:19 pm

    Thank you so much for your informative and educative explanation.I am really happy for this,because I am going to take a test under this topic.

  • ahmed June 4, 2012, 3:08 am

    perfectly explained..i needed that for my exam tomorrow.. thankyou so much
    could not get any better!!

  • suhail June 10, 2012, 1:19 pm

    thanks for apologize

  • Masija Buchafwe August 16, 2012, 1:11 am

    It is preciously elaborated with simple language. Kudos for this brilliant and intellectual sharing.

  • iCovington September 1, 2012, 10:57 am

    Studies in the usage and gratification theory also suggest that the audience activity ranges. In his report, “Uses and Gratifications Theory in the 21st Century”, Thomas E. Ruggiero indicates that, “different individuals tend to display different types and amounts of activity in different communication settings and at different times in the communication process” (Ruggiero, T. (2009, 11 17). This would be dependent on what level income, stress and attachment to media. Among those media outlets were television and newspapers.

  • Angela September 3, 2012, 10:17 pm

    Thank you so much for this post, I had to Do a presentation on this topic in Class. Helped me a lot..<3<3<3

  • olusayo foyeke omole September 19, 2012, 8:06 pm

    its a wonderful and nice write up,its indeed a brilliant one•GREAT

  • Nimmak Rebecca seldun September 30, 2012, 4:58 am

    This is wonderful explanation, it’s well understood. This is really preparing me 4 my exams. Thanks alot

  • Shailaj Nepal December 14, 2012, 9:06 pm

    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.

    it is good explanation ,, it is helpful ,

  • Mishael Mose December 16, 2012, 10:59 pm

    This is a wonderful piece, well explained and simple, thank you

  • sassy hassan February 18, 2013, 12:01 am

    this piece of work is splendid. i now understand this theory perfectly.

  • fungai kapfurutsa April 13, 2013, 2:33 am

    thank you.well documented and very easy to understand. you made my day

  • olivia November 23, 2013, 9:29 pm

    thanks so much, very helpful.
    and im so torchered by my essay….damn

  • premo ndovi February 27, 2014, 7:36 pm

    This topic has helped me in my assignment very interesting it focuses on real events

  • sheroze malik June 9, 2014, 9:23 am

    easy to understand

  • vinay October 30, 2014, 11:48 pm

    very good

  • ahsan November 3, 2014, 10:49 pm

    the information being discussed here seems to be providing brief but effective one.

  • Agnes Almasy November 11, 2014, 7:14 pm

    Thank you so much for a brief explanation, it helped me in my assignment. God bless you.

  • Lim November 22, 2014, 1:04 pm

    how to write a conclusion based on this topic

  • Madhu December 7, 2014, 12:18 pm

    excellent and thank you so much.

  • yusta December 9, 2014, 8:53 am

    thanks for the information..it really helped me in my final examination

  • sunny astory December 26, 2014, 9:14 pm

    well Don sir Great explanation

  • fentonepaul January 26, 2015, 12:20 am

    very well explained..really was in need of this topic..needed to submit it to my proffessor..thank you

  • jimmy February 2, 2015, 7:20 am

    thank you for this, I am having a University Exams (UE) today, I have found this very informative, and it has satisfied my needs (cognitive needs) ha ha haaaa!

  • kwathini February 6, 2015, 9:30 pm

    thanks i enjoyed your information but how do you write the conclution

  • Olajide Owolabi February 8, 2015, 12:56 am

    An incisive mind.Well written.Please,l need more info on this for my project.Thanks

  • Lois February 25, 2015, 2:27 pm

    i love mo and harry

  • nada November 12, 2015, 5:02 pm

    this is a very good post

  • SUMONA MAHI September 5, 2016, 12:34 am


  • Liad Tella October 2, 2016, 5:40 pm

    This is a very apt and straight to the point presentation for both students and researchers. However, my opinion is that two major criticisms of the theory are very weak. the audience and the media are in symbiotic relationship. Influence is rather dual-lane rather than a single lane traffic. the media tries to satisfy the audience advertisers with good editorial producs; the audience influences the media by either effective demand for print media products or tunning in to tv/radio programs or refusal of patronage that will snd the media out of business.
    Secondly,that the the theory emphasis positive reports to the detriment of negative report is equally challenge-able. in Nigeria, any media that become government megaphone or mouth piece of a group never lasted on the newsstand.

  • Abubakar Saadu Bebeji November 21, 2016, 3:13 am

    To be candid, this theory of communication is an unavoidable to the students, teachers and other researchers who wish to get clear cut statement about communication. I have nothing to say rather than to forward my gratitude and respect to the author and wish him more strength to continue providing important, genuine and reliable information.

  • amiee December 1, 2016, 3:22 pm

    Thank you it really helped me for my exams

  • sameer December 1, 2016, 6:45 pm


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