The Psychology of Moviegoing: Choosing, Viewing and Being Influenced by Films
Psychology is often regarded as the gloomy science of maladjustment. Here we are looking at how psychological theory can help us understand a common, everyday behavior, going to the movies. We investigate what psychologists and media scholars have discovered about how we choose a movie to see, how we process the sounds and images of movies, and how movies may influence our behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs after we leave the theater or turn off the screen. And we try to point out areas where further work is necessary and where new concepts, such as awe and aesthetic pleasure may be introduced to help further understanding. We consider how relatively permanent personality variables, our changeable moods, and the people we are with affect these processes. Each of the eight chapters uses one film that helps illuminate the central issues of one substantive area of psychology. For example, on the topic of mood and emotion, we use the 1997 film Life is Beautiful to help understand both why psychologists seem perplexed that people like sad movies, as well as why that may be.