Spoiler alert: How narrative film captures attention

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Narrative transportation is a state of total immersion that arises when one becomes engaged in a story. In Cohen et al. (2015), participants viewed a suspenseful film either with order of scenes intact or scrambled (out of chronological order). Participants had to remember to raise their hand every time they heard a film character say the word “gun.” Results revealed participants were less likely to remember this instruction in the intact condition because their attention shifted away from processing their own goals to the goals of the protagonist. In three studies, we examined the boundary conditions of this effect by including a spoiler by telling participants the film ending (Study 1), having participants view the film individually or in groups (Study 2), and offering a reward incentive (Study 3). Overall, results showed that knowing the ending of the story did not improve performance, however, offering an incentive did boost goal maintenance. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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Applied Cognitive Psychology



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