Viewer Perceptions of Emotions in Racially Diverse Animated Film Media

Carmen Huang, Melissa Cervantes, Katherine Brock, Dr. Jessica Grady, Department of Psychology, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Ave, Stockton, CA 95211

One of the ways people learn about emotions is through artifacts in their everyday world, such as books and film media. From past research, picture books affected children’s emotion preferences and varied across cultures. Children preferred excited emotions like those commonly depicted in American picture books when read a book modeling excited expressions, and calm emotions like those commonly depicted in Taiwanese picture books when read a book modeling calm expressions. The present study evaluated the effect of film media depicting characters of different races on viewer emotions. The research questions were: How are emotion-related messages received? Can viewers relate to modeled emotions, and do they mirror these emotions? 

Participants first responded to basic questions about their demographics and acculturation. Then, participants watched nine clips through a Zoom video call: a sample clip to establish their baseline, and a film clip showing a positive emotion and a film clip showing a negative emotion in characters from each race (Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Black, and White). Clips were selected from popular animated films, and showed emotions identified in past work as typically portrayed by each race (e.g., Asian characters showed contentment). Following each film clip, participants self-reported their emotions and reported the emotions of the characters on a Likert-type scale of 1 (Not at all) to 4 (Extremely like me). Viewers’ emotion reactions when watching the film clips are being coded from video recordings of the Zoom sessions. Coding will be completed by mid-November.

Overall, participants rated their self-reported positive emotions similarly to the characters’ emotions; this finding was consistent with all races. However, participants generally rated their self-reported negative emotions differently from the characters’ emotions; this difference was most prevalent for the rating of Black film clips for all negative emotions. It is expected that viewers will mirror character emotions.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Carmen Huang

Institution: University of the Pacific

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 10
Date/Time: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Session Number: 6599