See Mass Media

Uses and Gratifications Approach

explaining of media use

History and Orientation

Originated in the 1970s as a reaction to traditional mass communication research emphasizing the sender and the message. Stressing the active audience and user instead. Psychological orientation taking needs, motives and gratifications of media users as the main point of departure.

Core Assumptions and Statements

Core: Uses and gratifications theory attempts to explain the uses and functions of the media for individuals, groups, and society in general. There are three objectives in developing uses and gratifications theory: 1) to explain how individuals use mass communication to gratify their needs. “What do people do with the media”. 2) to discover underlying motives for individuals’ media use. 3) to identify the positive and the negative consequences of individual media use. At the core of uses and gratifications theory lies the assumption that audience members actively seek out the mass media to satisfy individual needs.

Statement: A medium will be used more when the existing motives to use the medium leads to more satisfaction.

Conceptual Model


Source: Rosengren (1974)

Favorite Methods

Qualitative and quantitative questionnaires and observations among individual users of media.

Demographics, usage patterns, rating scales of needs, motivation and gratification

Scope and Application

Scope: the acceptance and use of new and old media and media content according to the needs of the users/receivers.

Application: all users and receivers research; adopting innovations.


Leung, L. & Wei, R. (2000). More than just talk on the move: Uses and Gratifications of the Cellular Phone, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 77(2), 308-320.

Mobility, immediacy and instrumentality are found to be the strongest instrumental motives in predicting the use of cellular phones, followed by intrinsic factors such as affection/sociability. Based on survey research in Hong Kong 1999.



  • Boer, C. de & S. Brennecke (1999/2003). De Uses and Gratifications benadering. In: Boer, C. de & S. Brennecke, Media en publiek, Theorieën over media-impact (97-115). Amsterdam: Boom.
  • McQuail, D. (2001). With More Handsight: Conceptual Problems and Some Ways Forward for Media Use Research. Communications, 26(4), 337-350.

See also Mass Media, Communication and Information Technology