transfer 20(3) » Rezeptions- und Wirkungsforschung

Thinking about right and wrong

Examining the effect of moral conflict on entertainment experiences, knowledge acquisition, and subjective knowledge

The study investigated the effect of moral conflict on entertainment experiences, information processing, objective and subjective knowledge. Predictions were derived from the model of intuitive morality and exemplars (Tamborini, 2011, 2013) and applied to a non-fictional, news-related context. It was expected that a narrative feature story containing moral conflict would lead to lower enjoyment, but higher appreciation than a narrative feature story without moral conflict, thus leading to higher cognitive engagement. Effects on objective and subjective knowledge were expected. An online-experiment (N = 287) using a feature story about a morally conflicting topic as stimulus was conducted to test for the effects of moral conflict. Results show that the morally conflicting narrative led to higher appreciation and cognitively engaged audience members to a higher extent than a narrative containing no moral conflict. There were no direct effects on objective and subjective knowledge, however, indirect effects of moral conflict on objective knowledge with heuristic and systematic processing as mediators were found. Moral conflict had an indirect effect on subjective knowledge via entertainment experiences. Findings are discussed with regards to their theoretical and practical implications.