(Photo:Wikimedia Commons)

While there are noticeable differences between the content on television programs like Jersey Shore and political satires like The Daily Show and Colbert Report, a University of Delaware study suggests that there is also a psychological difference between viewers of these shows.

The researchers surveyed 398 undergraduate students on their attitudes “regarding 13 different genres of television, from young-adult shows like MTV’s Jersey Shore to crime dramas like CSI.”

Lead researcher Dannagal Young said she found “meaningful differences” in what motivated participants to watch political satire programs like The Daily Show and Colbert Report. The results revealed that viewers tended to watch these programs for context, not information or amusement, revealing that they “exhibit high need for cognition.”

“There is a segment of the political satire audience that is motivated by a deeper level of processing,” Young said. “It’s not about capacity to think, it’s about their enjoyment of thinking.”

Because of this, she said, these viewers are also probably experiencing different impacts from these shows.

“We know that the reasons people seek out information strongly affect the implications of those messages,” Young said. “In this case, people coming to the show looking for satirical analysis of political information may exhibit more long-lasting shifts in attitude.”

Source: University of Delaware

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

Follow Counseling Today on Twitter.