Music Enhances Empathic Engagement with Characters in Films
An experiment was conducted to examine music’s influence on empathy with characters in cinematic narratives. Participants viewed a series of film clips taken from unfamiliar Hollywood films that showed characters in distressing situations. A first phase of the experiment involved identifying a set of film clips for which participants failed to empathize with those distressed characters. The second phase compared these clips against a set in which emotionally congruent background music was added to each clip. The results showed that the addition of background music to the clips increased participants’ empathy for the characters, compared to the original clips without music. These results provide evidence that music can influence not just viewers’ emotions per se, but their empathic engagement with unfamiliar fictional characters in films.
Keywords: character; emotion; empathy; film; music
Copyright (c) 2020 Steven Brown, Matthew Howe, Michel Belyk
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