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Media Psychology Programs

Fielding’s Media Psychology programs enable students to enter at their qualification, readiness and goal levels. The PhD in Media Psychology program provides a research-based program that informs practice in an evolving field of study. The Masters of Arts in Media Psychology is 100% online, applies psychological science to media and technology landscapes. The 3-course Certificate in Media Psychology program is also 100% online, and offers emphases in Media Neuroscience and Brand Psychology & Audience Engagement.

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A Scene From Shared Experience And Personality in Arthouse Theaters

Authors: Sara Cureton MA, M.Ed. & Elizabeth Murphy MMR, MA – Fielding Graduate University

Original Publication Site & Date:Cutting Edge Research from Emerging Psychological Scientists: Late-Breaking Poster Session” / APA August 2019, Chicago, IL

Abstract:As technology evolves to make film more accessible and on-demand, movie theater attendance worldwide has fallen. The niche market of independent arthouse theaters, however, is thriving. In a pilot study conducted for FilmBar, an arthouse theater in Phoenix, Arizona, a 28-question quantitative survey was used to gain insight into patrons’ moviegoing habits, preferences, and decision-making process as well as self-identified “Big Five” personality dimensions using the Ten-Item Personality Measure (TIPI). In total, 87 theater patrons aged 18-69 with various socioeconomic, educational, and ethnic backgrounds responded. Comments from survey participants were coded and analyzed for insight into the motivated patronage of this particular theater. Significant findings include an overall desire for shared experience of film viewership, a correlation between Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and theater attendance as well as correlation between certain movie genres and personality dimensions. Future research is warranted in the area of individual films and/or genres, uses and gratifications of film, and the intersection of film, identity and personality.

Patrons with high Agreeableness may be more willing to go to a movie for the experience or community instead of the film itself.

The relationship between frequent movie-going and agreeableness found in this study are not surprising. Patrons with high Agreeableness may be more willing to go to a movie for the experience or community instead of the film itself, which is supported by uses and gratifications theoretical framework (Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1973). A low frequency movie-goer may be more selective and rely on the draw of a particular film. As a high Openness to Experience score was positively correlated to thrillers, one could assume these patrons are more open to new experiences or intense, emotional experiences. Those seeking shared experience also prefer Thriller/Suspense movies. These films are enhanced by seeing with others and can create a feeling of safety and security, according to narrative/meaning-making theory (Goldstein, 2009).

The researchers conclude that not just one type of personality or demographic is prone to arthouse movie-going, but instead a shared experience can be created despite our differences.

Presented by
Sara Cureton MA, M.Ed.

Media Psychology, School of Psychology
Fielding Graduate University

#arthouse #movies #mediapsychology #fielding



  • Sara

    July 23, 2020 12:50 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to check out the poster, Nick! You offer good points of feedback. This was a relatively small study around one theater and our first parlay into a research project! The value of the learning here was largely, “what would we do differently in future?” Certainly, there are various lenses to frame and study personality, UG, and the medium of film as well as the venue of the arthouse theater, and there are many different opportunities for future work! -SC

  • Nick

    July 16, 2020 9:16 am

    Thanks for sharing this research with us. As you go further into the genre/social identity/nuance of art house cinema, I wonder if it might be useful to “step back” somewhat and investigate the gratification sets for this type of content, and see if they differ from established gratification sets for other types of cinema — for example, if your presumption is that the art house is a very different social and psychological experience than the commercial “Hollywood” theater? I somewhat wonder if a Big Five focus is a bit too distal here, and I’d be curious to know — perhaps using a mix of measures related to U&G and subjective/open-ended data — how art house patrons construe their experience?

    I’d also be curious to know how this type of experience correlates with their media diet, broadly. That is, if we’re finding that art house patrons tend to consume other “niche” forms of media, it might say something about their broad orientations towards entertainment: for example, perhaps a preference for eudaimonic over hedonic content broadly!

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