Sunday, December 9, 2007

Film enjoyment is contagious, says study

If you are you a movie buff then this research is sure to bring a smile on your face --- the presence of other people may enhance our movie-watching experiences. Researchers from University of Chicago carried out a study and explained that ''the more in sync we are with the people around us, more we like the movie,'' the Science Daily reported. They suggested that over the course of the film, movie-watchers influence one another and gradually synchronise their emotional responses.

''By mimicking expressions, people catch each other's moods leading to a shared emotional experience. That feels good to people and they attribute that good feeling to the quality of the movie,'' explain researchers Suresh Ramanathan and Ann L McGill.

In a series of experiments, the researchers had participants watch a video clip. Some of the participants watched alone, some with other people whose expressions could not be seen due to the presence of a partition, and some with other people whose expressions could be seen.

The participants used to indicate their feelings at each moment with the help of a joystick.

The researchers found that people watching a film together appeared to evaluate the film within the same broad mood, generally tracking up or generally tracking down. In another study, the researchers videotaped participants and found that synchrony of evaluations can be traced to glances at the other person during the film and adoption of the observed expressions.

The researchers explained: ''Participants who looked at each other at the same time appeared to note whether the other person's face expressed the same or different emotion than their own.

Perceived congruity of expressions caused participants to stick with their current emotional expression . . . Perceived incongruity, on the other hand, led to a dampening of subsequent expressions.'' ''Social effects described above were bi-directional suggesting that such influences were mutual rather than the result of a leader-follower pattern,'' they concluded.

The researchers are the first to examine how a shared experience affects not just our immediate feelings, but also our overall impressions of the experience as a whole.

No comments: