Indian researcher reveals why enjoying a movie is contagious

December 5th, 2007 - 12:20 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 5 (ANI): The next time you watch a movie, make sure you have company with you, for a new study conducted by an Indian researcher suggests that the presence of other people might enhance a persons movie-watching experience.

The study, conducted by Suresh Ramanathan, a Chicago University researcher who did his graduation from Madras, and Ann L. McGill, also from the same university, stated that loud commentary and cell phone fumbling might be distracting but over the course of the film, movie-watchers influence one another and gradually synchronize their emotional responses.

This mutual mimicry also affects each participants evaluation of the overall experience, the more in sync a person is with the people around, the more he or she likes the movie.

In the study, a series of experiments were conducted in which participants were made to 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 were given a joystick, which they used to indicate their feelings at each moment.

While assessments did not line up by second, people liked or disliked specific scenes in the film according to their own tastes, 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 a second study, the scientists videotaped participants and found that synchrony of evaluations could be traced to glances at the other person during the film and adoption of the observed expressions.

When asked how much they had liked the film, participants reported higher ratings the more their assessments lined up with the other person, the researchers said.

By mimicking expressions, people catch each others moods leading to a shared emotional experience. That feels good to people and they attribute that good feeling to the quality of the movie, they added.

Participants who looked at each other at the same time appeared to note whether the other persons 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 said.

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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