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Embodied VisionsEvolution, Emotion, Culture and Film$
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Torben Grodal

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195371314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371314.001.0001

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Character Simulation and Emotion

Character Simulation and Emotion

Chapter:
(p.181) 8 Character Simulation and Emotion
Source:
Embodied Visions
Author(s):

Torben Grodal

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371314.003.0009

The chapter discusses how viewers simulate films, for instance by means of mirror neurons that induce viewers to simulate characters, and discusses the different theories about how we experience other minds. It analyzes how film viewing activates visual, acoustic, and emotional brain modules that are sealed off from higher mental mechanisms that evaluate the reality of visual input. The brain’s basic mode is to believe in and to simulate fictional and mediated worlds and characters, whereas higher-order cognitive functions try to diminish or suspend this basic belief. The chapter discusses several modes of film experience, from distanced observation to immersion. It argues that the problem with many rival theories of film viewing compared with a simulation theory is that they rely on erroneous ideas of how we experience everyday life and provide impoverished descriptions of the viewer’s experience. These theories rely on third-person emotions such as pity and admiration and exclude how films induce central first-person emotions such as love, hate, and fear.

Keywords:   character simulation, mirror neurons, empathy, immersion, viewer distance, narration modes

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