Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Do we forgive television characters for their bad actions?

Date:
March 20, 2013
Source:
Taylor & Francis
Summary:
When watching a television show, the bad decisions that characters make are more likely to be forgiven if you think they have a good reason for their behavior, according to a new study.

When watching a television show, the bad decisions that characters make are more likely to be forgiven if you think they have a good reason for their behavior, according to a study out of the University of Colorado.

Related Articles


The article, published in the March 2013 issue of Mass Communication and Society, analyzes why individuals still cheer for a character, even when that character has made a wrong decision. The authors found that people were more likely to morally disengage, which occurs when someone justifies the immoral actions of a character, if a character's motivation was seen as selfless rather than selfish.

"We want people to know that in many ways, we respond to entertainment characters as we would to individuals in real life," Dr. Maja K. Krakowiak, the article's author said. "That is, we judge characters and their actions based on the character's intentions, and to a lesser degree, on the outcomes that the character's actions produce. However, our tolerance for immorality is likely greater in entertainment than it is in real life."

Over 120 participants were surveyed after reading different stories containing the same characters. The stories varied on the choices one of the main characters made and the outcomes these decisions had. The research may help to explain why characters from shows such as Breaking Bad and Dexter may be breaking the law, but audiences still tune in every week. Viewers may be more likely to morally disengage from Breaking Bad's Walter White because he is making and selling drugs, but is doing so to ensure his family is taken care of after he passes away from his terminal illness.

"So many characters in entertainment content behave immorally yet people seem to love these characters and root for them to succeed," Krakowiak said. "We conducted this study to better understand how people are able to justify these immoral actions and how this may impact their perceptions of characters."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Taylor & Francis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. Maja Krakowiak, Mina Tsay-Vogel. What Makes Characters’ Bad Behaviors Acceptable? The Effects of Character Motivation and Outcome on Perceptions, Character Liking, and Moral Disengagement. Mass Communication and Society, 2013; 16 (2): 179 DOI: 10.1080/15205436.2012.690926

Cite This Page:

Taylor & Francis. "Do we forgive television characters for their bad actions?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320094846.htm>.
Taylor & Francis. (2013, March 20). Do we forgive television characters for their bad actions?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320094846.htm
Taylor & Francis. "Do we forgive television characters for their bad actions?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320094846.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Shows Newborn Chicks Count From Left to Right Just Like Humans

Study Shows Newborn Chicks Count From Left to Right Just Like Humans

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) Researchers for the first time identified human&apos;s innate preference for associating low and high numbers with the left and right respectively in another species. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Best Mood Elevating, Feel Good Shakes & Smoothies

Best Mood Elevating, Feel Good Shakes & Smoothies

Buzz60 (Jan. 30, 2015) You can elevate your mood by having a meal in a glass. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) offers the best &apos;feel good&apos; smoothies and shakes chock full of depression-relieving ingredients...including apples, berries, lemons, cucumbers, papaya, kiwi, spinach, kale, whey protein, matcha, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poll Says Firstborn Is Responsible, Youngest Is Funnier

Poll Says Firstborn Is Responsible, Youngest Is Funnier

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) According to a poll out of the U.K., eldest siblings feel more responsible and successful than their younger siblings. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins