Spiritual Media Experiences, Trait Transcendence, and Enjoyment of Popular Films
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Journal of Media and Religion, volume 16, issue 2, in 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/15348423.2017.1311122. It may differ slightly from the final version of record.
Recent scholarship on media psychology acknowledges that media entertainment offers not only purely hedonistic enjoyment but also meaningful experiences. This study expands our understanding of media enjoyment by exploring the role of media entertainment in evoking spiritual emotions and beliefs, such as those related to connectedness, blessedness, and transcendence. Results from an online survey (N = 220) indicate that media entertainment elicits meaningful as well as spiritual emotions and increases the saliency of spiritual beliefs as related to self-actualization and spiritual experiences in everyday life. Furthermore, trait transcendence and eudaimonic media motivations add to the explanation of audiences’ mediated spiritual experiences. Open-ended responses, analyzed by three coders, revealed that themes of transcendence and human connectedness are an integral part of viewers’ entertainment experiences. This exploratory study provides the groundwork to investigate spiritual media experiences and advance understanding of audiences’ appreciation for media entertainment. Implications for popular culture and mediated spirituality are discussed.