Made ya look: Moviegoers may have little control over their eye movements during Hollywood-style films, study finds [news release]
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Lester Loschky, associate professor of psychological sciences at Kansas State University, used six shots, a 12-second clip, from the 1979 James Bond film, “Moonraker,” to measure eye movements and understanding.
MANHATTAN — Hollywood-style films may control viewers’ attention more than originally thought, according to a Kansas State University researcher.
Lester Loschky, associate professor of psychological sciences, recently published “What Would Jaws Do? The Tyranny of Film” in PLOS ONE. The study suggests viewers may have limited cognitive control of their eye movements while trying to understand films.
“Hollywood-style filmmakers have developed stimuli — such as shorter shot length, more motion in the frame and higher contrast — that is amazing at directing the viewers’ attention from moment to moment in exactly the way that the filmmaker wants,” Loschky said. “It is not that film producers have complete mind control because we willingly participate in it — we enjoy movies — but they do have a lot of control over our attention.”
Loschky compared eye movements of people who watched a three-minute clip of “Moonraker,” a 1979 James Bond film, with people who watched the last 12 seconds of the clip. His hypothesis, called the “Tyranny of Film,” was that film viewers’ eye movements are separate from a person’s understanding.
“We are investigating film perception and film comprehension together,” Loschky said. “In a static picture, people look at different things at different times, but during a movie suddenly everybody is looking at the same things at the same time.”
Loschky said that in the last 100 years, filmmakers slowly have gotten better at getting every viewer to look at the same place at the same time, a measurement called attentional synchrony. He attributes that to what he calls MTV-style editing, which is a greater frequency of cuts and shorter shot lengths. The researchers hypothesize that filmmakers are so good at influencing viewers’ eye movements in Hollywood-style movies that viewers’ understanding does not necessarily affect where they look.
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