Study: Information, Rather Than Social Or Emotional Needs, Drive Podcast Listening.


Can psychological factors predict who will listen to a podcast? A new research study seems to suggest they can. Stephanie Tobin at Queensland University of Technology-Brisbane and Stanford University’s Rosanna Guadagno examined the factors that lead someone to embrace on-demand audio and conclude people who have a driving curiosity and a need to know are more likely to have listened to a podcast.


Their examination of demographic predictors also revealed that men were more likely to have listened to a podcast than women. That is consistent with other studies that have found similar gender differences in podcast listening. “It could be due in part to broader gender differences in technology use whereby women place greater value on connectivity and men place greater value on information,” the study says.


The study also found that podcast adoption is different from social media in that people who have a higher “need to belong” were less likely to have listened to a podcast. It also says neurotic study participants were also less podcast listening-prone. That is different than social media, which researchers say tends to attract people that score higher on the need to belong and neurotic scales.


But that does not mean podcast listeners are introverts holed-up in a room with headphones on. Researchers said that their additional analysis revealed that social aspects of podcast listening exist, with extroverts and the socially outgoing more likely to engage with podcasts. And they are more likely to spend more time with podcasts.


“Together, these findings suggest that informational needs rather than social or emotional needs may be more relevant motivations for podcast listening,” the research paper says. “This is consistent with past findings that information was a more strongly endorsed motive for podcast listening than other more social motives among regular podcast listeners.”


The vast majority of podcasts are listened to via smartphone apps, but researchers said they found no evidence that connected podcasts to smartphone addiction.


“We also found that smartphone addiction was lower among those who had been listening to podcasts for more years,” the report explains. “More seasoned listeners might have begun listening to podcasts on other devices such as an iPod and thus, might be less dependent on their smartphone for podcast listening.”


The study was based on 306 participants who ranged in age from 18 to 64. Participants came from more than ten countries, including the U.K. (22%), U.S. (14%), Portugal (14%), Poland (10%), Canada (8%), Mexico (6%), Greece (6%), Spain (4%), Italy (3%), and Australia (2%).


Among the 306 participants, 240 reported that they had listened to a podcast, while 66 had not. Of those who had listened to a podcast, 106 listened less than monthly, 32 listened monthly, 72 listened weekly, and 30 listened daily. The most frequently selected categories of podcasts were comedy (48%), games and hobbies (34%), society and culture (23%), music (23%), news and politics (23%), and education (21%). The report says most participants listened to podcasts while engaging in other activities at home and most listened on a smartphone.


The study was published in Plos One. Read the full study HERE.

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