August 2014
Volume 14, Issue 10
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2014
What Would Jaws Do? The tyranny of film and the relationship between gaze and higher-level comprehension processes for narrative film.
Author Affiliations
  • Lester Loschky
    Department of Psychological Sciences, Kansas State University
  • Adam Larson
    Department of Psychology, University of Findlay
  • Joseph Magliano
    Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University
  • Tim Smith
    Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck University of London
Journal of Vision August 2014, Vol.14, 761. doi:
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      Lester Loschky, Adam Larson, Joseph Magliano, Tim Smith; What Would Jaws Do? The tyranny of film and the relationship between gaze and higher-level comprehension processes for narrative film.. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):761.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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What is the relationship between viewers' eye movements while watching a film and their comprehension of it? Most Hollywood movies can be considered "tyrannical" because they induce most viewers to look at the same things at the same time—hereafter, "attentional synchrony." But does this indicate that viewers also understand the movie similarly? To investigate this question, we manipulated the presence/absence of prior film context and measured resulting differences in film comprehension and eye movements. Viewers watched a 12-second James Bond movie clip, ending just as a critical predictive inference should be drawn that Bond's nemesis, "Jaws" would fall from the sky onto a circus tent. This was engendered by the filmmakers' use of cross-cutting between shots of Jaws falling through the air and shots of a circus tent. The No-context condition saw only the 12-second clip, but the Context condition also saw the preceding 2.5 minutes of the movie, thus providing them with a mental model of the prior narrative context before seeing the critical 12-second portion of the clip. Overall, there was strong attentional synchrony for all viewers in both viewing conditions. However, the No-context viewers were significantly less likely to draw the critical inference (i.e., less understanding), were more likely to consider the first shot of the circus tent to be a new event (i.e., less perceived coherence across cross-cut shots), showed less attentional synchrony during the first circus tent shot (i.e., a greater need to explore the scene) and had a greater probability of fixation on the first circus tent shot (i.e., greater processing difficulty). Thus, despite Hollywood films' "tyrannical" control of viewers' attention, viewers' subtle eye movement differences can indicate important comprehension differences. These results point to the need for a theory encompassing processes involved from the perception to the comprehension of a film.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014


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