When people go to the cinema, they expect it to be an engaging, entertaining and even relaxing experience. In fact, some films do exactly that. For example, a number of studies show that watching traumatic or sad films can produce social bonding, and that a shared emotional experience produces the same brain reactions as laughing or crying. This is largely because these experiences trigger oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.
The movie Inside Out, for example, is a story about core human emotions: joy, fear, anger and sadness. The way the film depicts these emotions is so compelling that it often leads to viewers crying during the movie, mainly because they feel a sense of vicarious emotional connection with the characters in the film. This feeling is a result of the human emotion empathy, which is a component of emotional intelligence. This theory of film empathy is further endorsed by recent research showing that viewers can perceive the feelings of fictional characters in the same way as real people and that this can lead to emotional outpourings.
What exactly it is about the visual stimuli of cinema and TV that makes the viewing experience so fascinating and enjoyable remains a topic of great interest for many researchers in psychology. A select group of film-loving academic empirical psychological scholars seek to understand how we enjoy film because they see the medium as a challenging testing ground for fundamental models of perception, attention, memory, imagination and emotion. Don’t miss any of your favourite films or television programmes with TV aerial installation Bristol from aerial-installations-bristol.co.uk
Psychologists have a wide range of tools to investigate the psychology of film, from computational content analysis to eye-tracking and behavioural experiments. In many cases, however, the insights gained from these investigations have been quite modest and inconclusive.
The same is true for the understanding of film structure. Although there are several empirical studies that have found that certain features of the montage and editing rhythms or camera angles can affect the perception of continuity, it is not clear to what extent these effects depend on an underlying psychological model.
Despite the limitations of the current state of knowledge, an attempt must still be made to define the concept of film psychology and to identify measurable criteria for its evaluation. This can help to establish a coherent basis for both theoretical and empirical investigations of the psychological effects of films.