Quality & Quantity 36: 259–276, 2002.
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Measuring Motivations for Media Exposure:
PAUL G. HENDRIKS VETTEHEN
and LEO B. VAN SNIPPENBURG
Department of Communication, University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Abstract. The present article discusses the problem of separating the motivation concept empirically
from other relevant concepts in research on mass media audiences. For about half a century, audience
researchers use questionnaire items with a distinct format as measurements of motivations for media
exposure. It is argued that these motivation items grammatically reﬂect the nature of the motivation
concept as a theoretically intermediate variable between behaviour and its social or mental back-
ground, thus constituting the most plausible indicators of the concept. However, it is also argued that
these questionnaire items are double-barrelled and that any measurement of motivations based on the
items can largely be considered an ambiguous mixture of behaviour and its social or mental origin.
A study is presented that provides empirical support for this position.
Key words: measurement, motivations, Uses & Gratiﬁcations, audience research, construct validity
One of the most widely used concepts in audience research is the concept of motiv-
ation, or, stated differently, the concept of gratiﬁcations sought. The concept may
be conceived of as a theoretically intermediate variable between media use on the
one hand and its social or mental origins, for instance needs, on the other hand
(Palmgreen et al., 1985). Palmgreen et al.’s (1980) gratiﬁcations sought scale, as
well as Rubin’s (1981) television viewing motivations scale are examples of the
way researchers have operationalized motivations.
The development of motivation scales has received a lot of attention during the
past decades. Most of the items used have been grounded in analyses of qualitative
data, such as answers to open ended questions, essays and diaries (Blumler & Mc-
Quail, 1968; Greenberg, 1974; Rubin, 1981, 1983; Bantz, 1982; Rubin et al., 1988;
Perse, 1994). Besides, some indications have been established that the scales rep-
resent valid measurements of motivations (for instance, see Becker, 1979; Blumler
& McQuail, 1968; McLeod & Becker, 1974; Rubin, 1981). Ultimately, both the
Palmgreen et al. (1980) and Rubin (1981) scales are included in a sourcebook of
communication research measures (Rubin et al., 1994), that may very well turn
Author for correspondence: Paul G. Hendriks Vettehen P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The
Netherlands. E-mail: P.HendriksVettehen@maw.kun.nl