alexa When good characters do bad things: Examining the effect of moral ambiguity on enjoyment
Social & Political Sciences

Social & Political Sciences

Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

Author(s): K Maja Krakowiak, Mary Beth Oliver

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Some of the most compelling characters are morally ambiguous, but little research has examined these characters. This study (N = 313) empirically tests the effects of good, bad, and morally ambiguous characters (MACs) on audience responses. Findings of an experiment reveal that different character types are appealing for different reasons. Specifically, good characters are enjoyed because they are well liked; bad characters are liked the least, but they are equally as transporting, suspenseful, and thus cognitively engaging as other characters. MACs, on the other hand, are liked less than good characters, but they are nevertheless equally as transporting, suspenseful, cognitively engaging, and thereby enjoyable as good characters. The implications of these findings on various media effects theories are discussed.

This article was published in Journal of Communication and referenced in Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

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