Enjoying Movies Is Contagious
Your Movie Date May Shape Your Views Without Saying a Word
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
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
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
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.