Media entertainment refers to users' enjoyment of media-induced sensations. This chapter argues that users feel entertained to the extent that media supports their adaptive tendencies to recreate and grow psychologically. Within the boundaries of their physiological regulation, users are believed to engage actively in cognitive, affective, and behavioral challenges imposed by media, in order to grow psychologically. However, a lack of physiological resources may limit users' engagement in challenges and consequently strengthen their enjoyment of more recreational and supportive media content.
Media entertainment has been characterized traditionally as an enjoyable experience for the user (Vorderer, Klimmt, & Ritterfeld, 2004; Zillmann, 2003). Such a perspective views entertainment as a hedonistic user experience, typically triggered by cheerful comedy shows, light-hearted romantic stories, stimulating action movies, or relaxing media offerings (Bosshart & Macconi, 1998). In contrast, alternate approaches suggest that users may also feel entertained by media offerings evoking less hedonistic, but more serious and perhaps even sad experiences (Oliver, 2009; Tan, 2008). This notion corresponds to the observation that media users may actively seek media content that evokes sad feelings, such as “tearjerker” movies, or horror or action movie content which ...