Title: The role of moral disengagement in the enjoyment of real and fictional characters

Authors: K. Maja Krakowiak, Mina Tsay

Addresses: Department of Communication, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80918, USA. ' Department of Mass Communication, Advertising and Public Relations, Boston University, 640 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Abstract: According to affective disposition theory, individuals continually monitor and judge characters| actions and form attitudes about characters based on these judgements. However, much entertainment content features characters that do immoral things. It has been proposed that individuals are able to like these characters despite their immoral behaviours through the process of moral disengagement. This study examined how the propensity to morally disengage and the fictionality of a narrative affected individuals| acceptance of immoral behaviours and their overall enjoyment of a narrative. Findings indicate that character liking mediates the relationship between moral disengagement and enjoyment. In addition, the propensity to morally disengage predicts actual moral disengagement, but moral disengagement is unaffected by the realness or fictionality of the narrative. Implications of the findings for entertainment research are discussed.

Keywords: moral disengagement; narrative enjoyment; affective dispositions; liking; fiction; real characters; fictional characters; disposition theory; immoral behaviour.

DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2011.037772

International Journal of Arts and Technology, 2011 Vol.4 No.1, pp.90 - 101

Published online: 27 Dec 2010 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article