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Watching closely: Spatial distance influences theory of mind responding in film viewers

Bálint, K. and Klausch, T. and Pólya, Tibor (2016) Watching closely: Spatial distance influences theory of mind responding in film viewers. JOURNAL OF MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY: THEORIES, METHODS AND APPLICATIONS. ISSN 1864-1105 (In Press)

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Abstract

Shot scale in film, that is the apparent spatial distance of characters from the camera, is one of the most important compositional elements in a film shot guiding media audiences’ attention. The primary aim of the present study was to investigate the extent to which apparent spatial distance of fictional characters can evoke theory of mind responding in film viewers. Theory of mind, referring to the capacity of attributing mental states to others, is considered fundamental in audiences’ character involvement and narrative understanding, and it presumably mediates narrative effects. Four short animated movies were annotated for shot scale distribution and presented to participants (N = 52) in a within-subject design. Participants were asked to retell the story of the films and fill in questionnaires on narrative experience. Skin conductance was also measured during exposure. Story-descriptions were content analysed for theory of mind responses. In a Poisson-regression model average spatial distance predicted theory of mind response indicating that increasing spatial proximity triggered higher occurrence of mental state references in participants’ story-descriptions. The findings give insight into how the visual presentation of characters shapes audiences’ mental models of the story.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion / filozófia, pszichológia, vallás > BF Psychology / lélektan > BF21 Applied psychology / alkalmazott pszichológia
Depositing User: dr Tibor Pólya
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2016 06:29
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2016 06:29
URI: http://real.mtak.hu/id/eprint/42256

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