Sharing the filmic experience - The physiology of socio-emotional processes in the cinema

Autoři: Laura Kaltwasser aff001;  Nicolas Rost aff001;  Martina Ardizzi aff002;  Marta Calbi aff002;  Luca Settembrino aff001;  Joerg Fingerhut aff001;  Michael Pauen aff001;  Vittorio Gallese aff002
Působiště autorů: Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany aff001;  Department of Medicine and Surgery, Unit of Neuroscience, University of Parma, Parma, Italy aff002;  Institut für Philosophie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany aff003;  Department of Art History Columbia University, Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States of America aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article


As we identify with characters on screen, we simulate their emotions and thoughts. This is accompanied by physiological changes such as galvanic skin response (GSR), an indicator for emotional arousal, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), referring to vagal activity. We investigated whether the presence of a cinema audience affects these psychophysiological processes. The study was conducted in a real cinema in Berlin. Participants came twice to watch previously rated emotional film scenes eliciting amusement, anger, tenderness or fear. Once they watched the scenes alone, once in a group. We tested whether the vagal modulation in response to the mere presence of others influences explicit (reported) and implicit markers (RSA, heart rate (HR) and GSR) of emotional processes in function of solitary or collective enjoyment of movie scenes. On the physiological level, we found a mediating effect of vagal flexibility to the mere presence of others. Individuals showing a high baseline difference (alone vs. social) prior to the presentation of film, maintained higher RSA in the alone compared to the social condition. The opposite pattern emerged for low baseline difference individuals. Emotional arousal as reflected in GSR was significantly more pronounced during scenes eliciting anger independent of the social condition. On the behavioural level, we found evidence for emotion-specific effects on reported empathy, emotional intensity and Theory of Mind. Furthermore, people who decrease their RSA in response to others’ company are those who felt themselves more empathically engaged with the characters. Our data speaks in favour of a specific role of vagal regulation in response to the mere presence of others in terms of explicit empathic engagement with characters during shared filmic experience.

Klíčová slova:

Arrhythmia – Behavior – Emotions – Fear – Finite element analysis – Heart rate – Theory of mind – Nervous system physiology


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