Guided dreams: Shot scale and shifting perspectives in narrative engagement


The numerous ways in which an audience can be mentally engaged with a narrative include a sense of presence in a scene, sharing the emotions or taking the perspective of a character, and generating involuntary autobiographical memories (IAMs) prompted by the story. Here, we use dynamic modeling to explore how these various thought modes fluctuate as a function of shot scale, defined as the perceived physical distance between the audience and story characters. N = 103 participants were randomly assigned to one of four continuous response measures while watching one of two television shows. Results demonstrate a positive relationship between closer shot scale and emotion sharing and a positive relationship between closer shot scale and perspective taking. Mixed evidence leads to a more tentative conclusion that closer shot scale may in some cases also increase IAMS and presence.

May 28, 2022
72nd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association
Paris, France
Jacob A. Long
Jacob A. Long
Assistant Professor of Mass Communications