Large-Scale Patterns of Entertainment Gratifications in Linguistic Content of U.S. Films

Robert Joel Lewis, Matthew Grizzard, Sydne Lea, Doug Ilijev, Jin A. Choi, Lisa Müsse, Gabriela O’Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We count words in film subtitle files in an attempt to reveal morally relevant patterns of linguistic content. We argue that function words (e.g., pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions) should be positively associated with thought-provoking narrative forms. To test this hypothesis, we associate function words to aggregate measures of film viewership and appraisals. Results suggest that function words are negatively associated with measures of viewership but positively associated with appraisals. As such, our finding is consistent with the idea that function words are more likely to occur in narrative forms that audiences value more than they actually consume. We relate this finding to past research, which has shown the same pattern for hedonic versus meaningful entertainment gratifications. Discussion centers on implications for recent theorizing in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-438
Number of pages17
JournalCommunication Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 8 Aug 2017


  • Entertainment Theory
  • LIWC
  • Linguistic Inquiry Word Count
  • Mass Communication
  • Moral Psychology


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