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 March 5, 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 March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 3, 2015) Super Bowl champions Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford donate their brains, post-mortem, to scientific research into repetitive brain trauma. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) Researchers found an abnormal protein associated with Alzheimer&apos;s disease in the brains of 20-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. 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