2-D or 3-D? Research shows no difference in emotional reactions to these formats

    The increasing visual realism of 3-D films is believed to offer viewers the most vivid and realistic experience - more exciting and intense than in 2-D, because 3-D films are closest to real life. However, psychology researchers at the University of Utah, one of those who typically use videos in the lab to study patients' emotional states, found that there was no significant difference in human perception between the two formats. The results were published recently in PLoS ONE.


    The aim of the study was to test the effectiveness of 3-D films, a new technology that is currently widely used as a research tool, in comparison with 2-D films. Rollers are used in psychological and neuroscience studies as a standard method for assessing emotional development. This method is the least invasive than other methods, and it is especially useful in studying the emotional reactions of young people, for whom emotional well-being is one of the decisive factors for healthy development.

    Sheila Crowe, an assistant professor at the Department of Psychology, says the results of a large and tightly controlled study show that as an entertainment medium, the 3-D format cannot provide impressions that are different from those after watching 2-D. “We decided to find out whether technological progress, such as the 3-D format, is an increase in the emotional state, especially for young patients who are regularly exposed to high-tech devices in their daily lives,” says Crowe. “Both -2-D and 3-D formats are equally effective at detecting emotional reactions.”


    How was the study

    Researchers examined the human emotional state in 408 variations, including sweating, breathing, and cardiovascular reactions, such as heart rate. They are usually used to evaluate emotional reactions.

    Of the four films, small plots were chosen, and such that each individual video caused the most vivid emotions, brighter than those that arise from watching the entire film. Study participants watched videos in 3-D and 2-D formats for approximately five minutes. The videos were from the following films: “My Bloody Valentine” (evoked emotion - fear), “Despicable Me” (enthusiasm, fun), “Rapunzel: Tangled Story” (sadness) and “Polar Express” (awe or excitement). Participants were randomly selected to watch movies. Viewing was carried out in different designs and sequences and, of course, in different formats. Sophisticated viewing configurations allowed researchers to compare not only the emotional reactions of the participants in the experiment, but also the reactions from each of the formats, as well as draw other scientifically useful conclusions.


    Overall, the results showed several significant differences between physiological responses to films. When taking into account a large number of statistical tests, only one difference between reactions to formats was noticed - a large number of skin-electric reactions (sweating) during an exciting scene from the movie “Polar Express” in 3-D format. Researchers believe that perhaps this is due to the fact that its content was of especially high quality, with the greatest number of 3-D effects than in others.

    The general conclusion is that individual differences in the qualities of the participants' character, differences in their individual ability to anxiety, in their inability to control emotional reactions or the search for “thrills” do not affect the psychological or physiological perception of 3-D viewing. And in general, no obvious differences were found in the emotional perception of the formats, so 2-D is still just as effective for the emotional viewing of the long-awaited film. Telebreeze Team

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