How Movies Affect Our Emotions

How Movies Affect Our Emotions

Do you ever wonder how movies affect our emotions? Here are four theories that explain the effect of movies on our moods: oxytocin, pretense play, sympathy, and relative familiarity. Watching a movie can trigger a range of emotions, from laughter to sadness, and everything in between. Let’s explore each one to understand how movies affect us. In addition to arousing our sense of pity, movies can also trigger our sense of guilt.


People have a complex relationship with movies and their emotional effect. While it is common for a movie to leave you feeling elated or angry, watching one can have the opposite effect. While watching a film can provide a cathartic release, it can also trigger negative emotions. The movies we watch often contain scenes that remind us of bad experiences. They may also trigger feelings of guilt. Here are some ways to avoid the negative emotional effect of movies.

Studies on the emotional effects of movies have revealed that crying during a movie is a sign of high empathy, social awareness, emotional intelligence, and connection. Cry in a movie can also signify emotional strength, since sobbing shows that we feel strong emotions. However, it is generally believed that crying in front of others is stereotypically female and associated with childbearing. Nonetheless, the impact of a movie’s effect on a person’s emotions has been argued since ancient times.

Pretense play

We can learn about the role of pretense play in human emotion by observing how young children differentiate real from fake actions. The research focuses on the external manifestations of pretended events to understand children’s intuitive theories of pretense. But the question remains: How does this affect our emotions? Let’s discuss some theories. Those that focus on our emotional responses can help us understand how movies affect us.

First, we need to consider the role of current and past cues. We should know why certain actions are real and which ones are not. In this way, we can determine the motivation of a particular act. Similarly, we can determine whether an act is intended or not. Real acts have different causes than fake acts. We must distinguish between intentional and unintended actions. In the present study, we have discussed the role of current and past cues in making the judgment.


Researchers have discovered that viewing movies can have profound effects on our emotions. While the similarities between characters and the emotional state they cause is a common human experience, more complex forms of empathy require more cognitive skill and awareness of the self-other distinction. Interestingly, watching movies is linked to increased emotional intelligence and social connectivity. Oklahoma University psychologists have conducted studies that have uncovered the relationship between fictional drama and our emotions. They divided their subjects into two groups, one of which was shown fictional drama and the other group watched documentaries. Afterwards, subjects were tested on reading the eye movements of the characters.

Whether or not we cry during a movie depends on the genre, the film, and the plot. Popular dramas have more impact on our emotions than independent films. Some movies trigger our oxytocin response, which is related to heightened feelings of compassion and empathy. The more you cry in a movie, the more likely you are to feel these kinds of emotions. If you are wondering how movies affect our emotions, here are some examples:

Relative familiarity

We all experience various kinds of emotions and the way we view films affects those feelings. The movie industry is one of the most influential instruments of emotions. In this study, participants watched pleasant movies and displayed Duchenne smiles. Duchenne smiles have different configurations than ordinary smiles and have a higher social signal value. In addition, they evoke greater empathy than other smiles. Therefore, relative familiarity of movies with people suffering from mental illness may affect the way we view and experience movies.

Whether a movie is viewed in a movie theater or in the comfort of our home is unclear, but researchers did find that it induced different emotional states in participants. The film clip’s valence, arousal, and type of baseline stimulus were calculated, and it was found that it was highly effective in eliciting negative mood states. This result is consistent with other studies, indicating that films with the same content can induce a range of different emotions, including anger, fear, and sadness.


Music can evoke various emotions in us. For instance, the two-note sequence in Jaws is designed to connect the audience with the shark. Auditory themes are important because they can link specific story points or emotions to an audience. When played over action, they can create a particular feeling. Famous examples of this are the violins played by Pyscho. However, not all movies use these types of themes. Some are more effective than others.

Music is powerful in movies because it enlivens the emotional and memory centers in the brain. The release of dopamine is one of the main benefits of listening to music in movies. Filmmakers can also use music to enhance a scene and guide the audience through the highs and lows of the film’s plot. Additionally, music can connect important themes and set a mood for audiences. Therefore, it is crucial for filmmakers to understand how music affects their audiences’ emotions.

Time perception

The relationship between movies and time perception is complicated, but researchers believe that it can be explained by the way we perceive time. Researchers are looking into the brain and how time is encoded. The role of neurotransmitters in reward and threat responses is attracting special attention. Researchers are using neuroimaging techniques to find out which brain regions are responsible for time perception. They also study whether our emotions are affected by movies, a common trait in people who suffer from anxiety and depression.

One of the most famous studies on time perception found that fear was linked to distorted time judgments. Researchers studied whether fear affected the way we judge time by watching scary movies. While no difference was found between participants who watched happy or neutral film clips, fear distorted their perception of time. Hence, fear distorts our time perception. Nevertheless, there is a connection between movies and emotion perception, but the study is not yet conclusive.

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