University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 20.10.2017 Audience experience of commercial videos and feature length films: are they Universal or culturally mediated?

Start date: Oct 20, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Oct 20, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: Elokuvasäätiö, Kanavakatu 12, Helsinki

Jose Cañas-Bajo
MSc Jose Cañas-Bajo defends his doctoral dissertation in Cognitive science ”Audience experience of commercial videos and feature length films: are they Universal or culturally mediated?". Opponent Professor Ed Tan (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands) and custos Professor Pertti Saariluoma (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

Audiovisual contents constitute one of the most common ways of communicating information. However, audiovisual products are difficult to study because they integrate a lot of complex communication and artistic elements. Meaning and emotions are conveyed by combining film elements but also narrative elements, music and other audio aspects, which unfold over time and can be used to impact the audiences. Here, the user experience approach is taken to try to understand the relation between the video’s elements and the emotions produced in the audience. Emotions are understood within an appraisal framework where elements of the audiovisual format and content are integrated in memory with previous information. The interpretation of these mental representations constitutes the basis of the experienced emotions. This standpoint is used here to review users’ approaches and emotions as applied to the audiovisual format and content, along with aesthetics and interests as complex experiences in the context of films and other audiovisual products. Additionally, mixed-method approaches to studying mental contents and emotions are defended and used.

Appraisal and user-centered theories also suggest that a product’s emotional impact is contextually mediated. Following this assumption, we investigated the impact of audiovisual contents in both commercial settings and feature length films. The influence of cultural factors was also reviewed and studied. Recent research suggests that aesthetics and visual design are culturally mediated; however, filmmakers assume that film elements equally impact culturally different viewers. The studies on this dissertation support this mixed conclusion: 1) Culturally loaded video products seem to be differently represented by Spanish and Finnish viewers. 2) Different aspects of the videos appear to have varying impacts on viewers depending on their nationalities, 3) videos, relative to static images, seem to reduce the differences in the mental representations of the commercial products. 4) Finally, films produced in countries differing in the cultural dimension share elements that provoke the audiences’ interest. This finding suggests that video elements induce universal emotions that balance out other possible cultural biases.

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Jose Cañas-Bajo
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