Motion, screen size, and emotion

This week some very interesting papers on how movement and screen size impacts on our experience and understanding of motion pictures. Particularly interesting is the paper that indicates small screens can be more immersive than big screens

Bellman S, Schweda A, and Varan D 2009 Viewing angle matters – screen type does not, Journal of Communication 59 (3): 609-634.

Increasingly, television content is available to viewers across 3 different screen types: TVs, personal computers (PCs), and portable devices such as mobile phones and iPods. The purpose of this study was to see what effect physical and apparent screen size has upon ad effectiveness. Using a sample of 320 members of the Australian public, we found that TV ads can be just as effective on PCs and iPods. However, controlling for screen type, ads viewed from a closer distance (i.e. with a wider viewing angle) were more likely to be recalled the next day, and were associated with more favorable brand attitudes. Shorter programs, product relevance, and use of close-ups and detailed images made no difference to this general viewing-angle effect.

Bracken C and Pettey G 2007 It is REALLY a smaller (and smaller) world: presence and small Screens,  PRESENCE 2007: 10th International Workshop on Presence, Barcelona, Spain, 25-27 October 2007.

This study moved Presence into the realm of the smaller video format—comparing Apple iPod with a standard television presentation. Ninety-six students were exposed to one of two presentations on either an iPod or on a 32-inch television. Students saw either a 10-minute fast-paced (multiple cut) action sequence or a 10-minute slow-paced (long cut) conversation sequence from a feature length motion picture. The 2 x 2 design looked at differences in immersion, spatial presence and social realism. While previous research suggests that larger format presentations should generally result in higher levels of presence, this study found that subjects viewing the iPod reported higher levels of immersion. Social realism had a significant interaction with content/pace, and there was no significant difference between iPod and the 32-inch television in spatial presence.

Detenber BH and Reeves B 1996 A bio‐informational theory of emotion: motion and image size effects on viewers, Journal of Communication 46 (3): 66-84.

Detenber BH, Simons RF, and Bennet Jr GG 1998 Roll ‘em!: the effects of picture motion on emotional responsesJournal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 42 (1): 113-127.

An experiment investigated the effects of picture motion on individuals’ emotional reactions to images. Subjective measures (self-reports) and physiological data (skin conductance and heart rate) were obtained to provide convergent data on affective responses. Results indicate that picture motion significantly increased arousal, particularly when the image was already arousing. This finding was supported by the both skin conductance and the self-report data. Picture motion also tended to prompt more heart-rate deceleration, most likely reflecting a greater allocation of attention to the more arousing images. In this study, the influence of picture motion on affective valence was evident only in the self-report measures – positive images were experienced as more positive and negative images as more negative when the image contained motion. Implications of the results and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Ravaja N 2004 Effects of image motion on a small screen on emotion, attention, and memory: moving-face versus static-face newscasterJournal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 48 (1): 108-133.

We examined the modulating influence of a small moving vs. static facial image on emotion- and attention-related subjective and physiological responses to financial news read by a newscaster, and on memory performance among 36 young adults. A moving-face newscaster was associated with high self-reported pleasure and arousal, but not with physiological arousal (electrodermal activity). Facial electromyographic responses to facial image motion were at variance with pleasure ratings. Facial motion was associated with decreased respiratory sinus arrhythmia, an index of attention, and improved memory performance for positive messages. A talking facial image on a small screen increases attention and knowledge acquisition.

Reeves B, Lang A, Kim EY and Tatar D 1999 The effects of screen size and message content on attention and arousal, Media Psychology 1 (1): 49-67.

The number of different screens that people confront is increasing. One potentially important difference in the psychological impact of screen displays is their size; new screens are both larger and smaller than older ones. A between-subjects experiment (n = 38) assessed viewer’s attention and arousal in response to three different size screens (56-inch, 13-inch, and 2-inch picture heights). Viewers responded to video images from television and film that displayed different emotions (# video segments = 60). Attention was measured by heart rate deceleration in response to the onset of pictures, and arousal was measured by skin conductance aggregated during viewing. Results showed that the largest screen produced greater heart rate deceleration than the medium and small screens. The large screen also produced greater skin conductance than the medium and small screens. For skin conductance, screen size also interacted with the emotional content of the stimuli such that the most arousing pictures (e.g., pictures of violence and sex) showed the highest levels of arousal on the large screen compared to the medium and small screens.

Simons RF, Detenber BH, Roedema TM and Reiss JE 1999 Emotion processing in three systems: the medium and the message, Psychophysiology 36: 619-627.

In the context of picture viewing, consistent and specific relationships have been found between two emotion dimensions ~valence and arousal! and self-report, physiological and overt behavioral responses. Relationships between stimulus content and the emotion-response profile can also be modulated by the formal properties of stimulus presentation such as screen size. The present experiment explored the impact of another presentation attribute, stimulus motion, on the perceived quality of the induced emotion and on its associated physiological response pattern. Using a within-subject design, moving and still versions of emotion-eliciting stimuli were shown to 35 subjects while facial muscle, heart rate, skin conductance, and emotion self-reports were monitored. The impact of motion was dramatic. Self-report and physiological data suggested strongly that motion increased arousal, had little impact on valence, and captured and sustained the subject’s attention to the image.

About Nick Redfern

I am an independent academic with over 15 years experience teaching film in higher education in the UK. I have taught film analysis, film industries, film theories, film history, science fiction at Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Central Lancashire, and Leeds Trinity University, where I was programme leader for film from 2016 to 2020. My research interests include computational film analysis, horror cinema, sound design, science fiction, film trailers, British cinema, and regional film cultures.

Posted on January 26, 2012, in Cognitive Film Theory, Film Studies, Film Technology, Motion Picture Exhibition and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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