August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Attentional synchrony during narrative film viewing: Turning off the "tyranny of film" through a task manipulation at odds with narrative comprehension
Author Affiliations
  • John Hutson
    Kansas State University
  • Thomas Hinkel
    Kansas State University
  • Clarissa Boberg
    Kansas State University
  • Mauricio Caldera
    Kansas State University
  • Cheyenne Menzies
    Kansas State University
  • Kaydee Tran
    Kansas State University
  • Joseph Magliano
    Northern Illinois University
  • Timothy Smith
    Birkbeck, University of London
  • Lester Loschky
    Kansas State University
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 123. doi:
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      John Hutson, Thomas Hinkel, Clarissa Boberg, Mauricio Caldera, Cheyenne Menzies, Kaydee Tran, Joseph Magliano, Timothy Smith, Lester Loschky; Attentional synchrony during narrative film viewing: Turning off the "tyranny of film" through a task manipulation at odds with narrative comprehension. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):123.

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

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During reading, eye-movements are closely related to comprehension, but the opposite has been shown in film viewing. Recent studies have shown that the high attentional synchrony found during film viewing may leave little room for comprehension based eye-movement differences. We therefore tested the following two competing hypotheses: 1) The Cognitive Task Hypothesis: high-level task processes guide eye-movements, versus 2) The Tyranny of Film Hypothesis: movies produce strong attentional synchrony regardless of higher-level processes. Previous experiments testing similar hypotheses showed that manipulations of viewer comprehension showed little effect on eye-movements, thus strongly supporting the tyranny of film hypothesis. To test whether the tyranny of film could be "turned-off," thus supporting the Cognitive Task hypothesis, participants were explicitly told their task was to draw a detailed map from memory of all locations depicted in a video, the 3-minute opening shot from "Touch of Evil" (Welles, 1958). In this clip a bomb is placed in a car at the beginning, and is shown until the bomb in the car is just about to explode. Map task viewers' eye-movements were compared to participants who watched the same clip while free viewing. To measure viewers' comprehension at the end of the clip, we asked them what would happen next, which showed the large expected task difference in terms of mentioning the bomb. The free-view group was much more likely to mention the bomb, indicating they were following the narrative, and are thus referred to as the Comprehension condition. For the eye-movement measures, compared to the Comprehension condition, the Map Task produced significantly longer saccades, different fixation patterns, and less looks at the car with the bomb. Thus, while comprehension differences produce only small effects in film viewers' eye-movements, a task implicitly at odds with comprehending the film narrative counteracts the tyranny of film.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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