Project objectives

This project combines qualitative analytical methods of film studies and methods of experimental psychology. Our overarching goal is the empirical assessment of some underlying assumptions of varying approaches in film theory as well as an investigation of their relationship to one another. 

We focus on the study of the connection—to be described analytically and verified empirically—between the temporal components of audiovisual images and the temporal dynamics of viewer emotions.

The empirical study of the central underlying assumption of this connection in diverse theoretical fields is guided by one initial question:

How is the cognitive processing of audiovisual media related to physical reactions as postulated by neo-phenomenological theories of embodiment and by the concept of expressive movement?

By addressing this question we hope to:

  1. specify the epistemic value of fundamental media science theories of viewer response (cognitive-theoretical and neo-phenomenological models of film reception).
  2. create an integrative approach combining empirically proven premises and hypothesis from both fields.
To this end we combine a descriptive method of analyzing cinematic expressivity (eMAEX) and diverse methods of measuring physiological changes (SCR, heart rate, respiratory rate) as well as magnetic resonance imaging.

In this we create, one the one hand, an empirical foundation for and further understanding of theoretical assumptions informing research in the arts and humanities on the emotional experience of audiovisual images. On the other hand, we hope to make the use of qualitative descriptions of the temporal unfolding of expressive movement images accessible to other interdisciplinary fields. We aim to build a methodological and theoretical foundation for expanding neuroscientific and psychological research on processing audiovisual information to include complex structures of staged audiovisual images.

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