Skip to content

Health & Balance

Enjoying Movies Is Contagious

Your Movie Date May Shape Your Views Without Saying a Word
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 7, 2007 -- Seeing a movie this weekend? The person sitting next to you may affect how much you like the movie, even if they're a complete stranger.

People give movies higher ratings if they're in sync with the people they sit with, a new study shows.

The study comes from the University of Chicago, where pairs of students watched the same video clip or short film at the same time.

Some students sat alone. Others sat next to a stranger they saw with their peripheral vision. Still others couldn't see the stranger sitting next to them because a partition blocked their view.

While the clips played, the students used a joystick to rate how much they liked or disliked what they saw on the screen.

Students sitting next to someone they could see tended to mirror their neighbor's reactions.

For instance, if a student smiled at the screen, the student sitting next to them saw that grin out of their peripheral vision and nudged their joystick in the "like" direction.

The students didn't realize they were doing that, according to interviews conducted after the experiment.

The students gave the movies higher ratings if they and the person they sat with (and could see) had similar reactions to the movies. In other words, being in sync with their neighbor made the whole experience more positive. 

The researchers -- who included Suresh Ramanathan, PhD, associate professor of marketing -- suggest that other shared experiences -- such as attending a concert or taking a flight -- may spread emotions in a similar way, but studies are needed to check that idea.

The study appears in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
jet plane landing at sunset
Slideshow
poinsettias
Quiz
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Slideshow
 
Woman worn out on couch
Article
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
Article
laughing family
Quiz