Following research evidence that suggests that the gratification derived from the consumption of sad content can be better explained by the experience of meaningful affect/feelings of being moved than by the experience of sadness, this research reconciled solutions to the paradox of pleasurable sadness from the media psychology literature with models of altruism from positive psychology, ethology, and behavioral economics. It is proposed that compassion incentivizes narrative engagement and that the gratification derived from the consumption of sad content follows an overall positive valuation of the somatic changes felt while engaged with a story. This research tested an association between experiencing feelings of compassion as a consequence of consuming sad content and engagement, between engagement and being moved, and between gratification and changes in the levels of salivary Interleukin 18 (IL-18) as a proxy for the activity of the µ-opioid receptors in the brain. Results suggested a strong and positive correlation between compassion, engagement, being moved, and gratification. Results from the physiological measures suggested a negative correlation between IL-18 and gratification that agrees with models of social motivation predicting that hypoactivity of the µ-opioid receptors results in a craving for social contact. Nevertheless, the low number of valid cases and questions about the reliability of the biomarker used demand a cautious interpretation of the association.
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|Advisor:||Shackleford, Karen E|
|Commitee:||Rutledge, Pamela B, Sewell, Daniel R, Oliver, Mary Beth|
|School:||Fielding Graduate University|
|Department:||The School of Psychology|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychology, Communication, Behavioral psychology|
|Keywords:||Being moved, Compassion, Enjoyment, Gratification, Narrative engagement, Sadness paradox|
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