Differential effects of film genre on viewers’ absorption, identification, and enjoyment.
Thompson J., Teasdale B., Duncan S., van Emde Boas E., Budelmann F., Maguire L., Dunbar R.
Marketers, filmmakers, and cinema-goers assume that genre has a large effect on how the audience responds to and engages with a film. However, trait measures such as transportability suggest that, in some cases, individual differences may shape audience engagement more than genre does. To investigate this disparity, we compared viewers’ enjoyment, identification with characters, and story world absorption (including three subscales: Transportation, Attention, and Emotional Engagement) for film clips from two very different genres (an emotional family film vs. an action chase scene) in a within-subjects design. Across two studies—an exploratory study and a preregistered replication—we found that participants’ feelings of being transported into the narrative (a dimension of story world absorption) were more highly correlated across films than other measures were and tended to be less related to genre preference than the other audience response measures were. This pattern of results suggests that feelings of transportation may be more dependent on individual differences, and less sensitive to genre, than other forms of audience response. An exploratory analysis of a short scale measuring trait transportability suggested this measure was not the basis of the individual differences theorized to underlie transportation. Our results further highlight the importance of examining viewer engagement with narrative as a multidimensional, rather than unitary, concept. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)