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What do we learn from docutainment? Processing hybrid television documentaries

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Learning and Instruction Volume 22, Number 1 ISSN 0959-4752 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This study examined how hybrid documentary formats, which embed educational contents into narratives, are cognitively processed. Based on existing research and theories, two reception modes were identified: processing with a focus on the narrative plotline and processing with a focus on the thematic structure. In two experiments, two markers of narrative processing could be found for hybrid television documentaries: the experience of transportation and the narrative distance effect. In the first experiment, it could be shown that re-enactments and personal variables enhance the experience of transportation. The second experiment confirmed the narrative distance effect, which occurs independently of reception goals. This means that educational facts which are closely tied to the narrative plotline were learned better than distant facts, regardless of whether the recipients watched the documentary for information or entertainment purposes. The study supplements prior theories on hybrid processing and provides conditions under which narratives are appropriate for learning.


Manuela, G., Bärbel, G. & Stephan, S. What do we learn from docutainment? Processing hybrid television documentaries. Learning and Instruction, 22(1), 37-46. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved March 22, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Learning and Instruction on January 29, 2019. Learning and Instruction is a publication of Elsevier.

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