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Online videos on platforms such as YouTube can entertain us because they are funny and provide enjoyment. But they can also affect us because they are sad or tragic. UvA scientists studied the effect of user comments on these experiences. It revealed that entertainment experiences not only are related to the content of online videos, but also depend on the information that previous viewers shared.

One of the most significant reasons to use online media is to entertain ourselves. The purpose might be to derive fun and enjoyment from it. In scientific terms, this is called ‘the hedonic entertainment experience’.  But videos can also entertain us because they affect us and challenge how we think, such as sad films, drama and documentaries. This type of entertainment experience is referred to using the term ‘eudaimonic entertainment’. 

Often these different experiences are intertwined; for example, a sad film can also include very funny moments, and funny films can have sad moments. Consequently, as a viewer you can have different experiences while watching a single online video. But to what extent are these experiences influenced by comments by previous viewers?

An online experiment with an animated film

UvA communication scientists Marthe Möller and Rinaldo Kühne wanted to learn more about the influence of user comments on the two different types of viewer experiences. They conducted an experiment involving 203 participants. The participants were shown a short animated film on YouTube and a random selection of user comments, which were shown prior to the video. After watching the video, the participants filled in a questionnaire.

User comments influences the hedonic experience

The online experiment revealed that the new viewers' hedonic entertainment experiences were heightened when previous viewers had indicated that they liked the video and thought it was touching, and were lowered when the previous viewers had indicated that they did not like the video or were not touched. The viewers' eudaimonic experiences, that is the extent to which they were affected or challenged in their way of thinking, were not influenced by others' comments, however.

These results show that entertainment experiences not only are related to the content of online videos, but also depend on the information that previous viewers shared. The researchers noted that the experiment was limited in terms of number of participants and period of time and therefore it is chiefly interesting for conducting further research.

Publication details

‘The effects of user comments on hedonic and eudaimonic entertainment experiences when watching online videos’, A. Marthe Möller / Rinaldo Kühne. Published online: 2019-06-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/commun-2018-2015

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Ms A.M. (Marthe) Möller MSc

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

CW : Youth & Media Entertainment

dr. R.J. (Rinaldo) Kühne

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

CW : Youth & Media Entertainment