For several decades uses and gratifications (U&G) has been a predominant theory guiding research on media use and effects. U&G emphasizes the centrality of the individual in the audience–media use–effects relationship. Research guided by this audience-centered perspective has suggested that understanding media effects requires consideration of audience members' individual differences, expectations, goals, level of purposiveness and activity when using media to satisfy their needs and desires. Though much U&G research has focused on how and why people use media, it is, ultimately, a media-effects theory. In this chapter, I review the theory's origins, evolution, and application in the study of media effects. Finally, I discuss the social significance and new and enduring directions of U&G research in the study of newer media environments in which people have a growing number of media choices for consuming, sharing and creating media fare; and connecting with each other.
Uses and gratifications is an audience-centered media-effects perspective. It stresses that media effects are the result of a confluence of factors working in concert, and that many of these factors are unique to the individual. Uses and gratifications suggests that people's social and psychological characteristics influence their needs and desires which are manifested in their motives ...