TO investigate what 3D film offers viewers beyond lifelike images, researchers from the psychology department at the University of Utah compared its ability to evoke emotion with that of conventional, two-dimensional films and found little difference.

The researchers worked with 408 participants and took measures commonly used to gauge emotional responses in psychology studies.

These included breathing and cardiovascular responses, in addition to palm sweat.

Participants were shown four film clips that had been chosen due to their likeliness to intensely promote one emotion without the need to view the entire film.

The selections included sections ofMy Bloody Valentine, which provoked fear;Despicable Mefor amusement;Tangledfor sadness andThe Polar Expressfor excitement.

Clips were shown in 3D and 2D format and lasted about five minutes each.

Palm sweat was more prolific during the 3D clip fromThe Polar Express, and researchers suggested it could be due to the singularly high quality of that particular film’s 3D content, whose variety of 3D effects is larger than the others.

Otherwise, overall results showed few significant differences in the way participants reacted to the film clips.

“Both 2-D and 3-D are equally effective at eliciting emotional responses, which also may mean that the expense involved in producing 3-D films is not creating much more than novelty,” says study author Shelia Crowell, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Utah.

Crowell pointed out that the large number of participants accounts for variation in personality type and propensity to anxiety, which further supports her claim.

The study waspublishedin PLOS ONE.

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