Perception while watching movies: effects of physical screen size and scene type

Tom Troscianko, Tim Meese, Steven Hinde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the last decade, television screens and display monitors have increased in size considerably, but has this improved our televisual experience? Our working hypothesis was that the audiences adopt a general strategy that “bigger is better.” However, as our visual perceptions do not tap directly into basic retinal image properties such as retinal image size (C. A. Burbeck, 1987), we wondered whether object size itself might be an important factor. To test this, we needed a task that would tap into the subjective experiences of participants watching a movie on different-sized displays with the same retinal subtense. Our participants used a line bisection task to self-report their level of “presence” (i.e., their involvement with the movie) at several target locations that were probed in a 45-min section of the movie “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” Measures of pupil dilation and reaction time to the probes were also obtained. In Experiment 1, we found that subjective ratings of presence increased with physical screen size, supporting our hypothesis. Face scenes also produced higher presence scores than landscape scenes for both screen sizes. In Experiment 2, reaction time and pupil dilation results showed the same trends as the presence ratings and pupil dilation correlated with presence ratings, providing some validation of the method. Overall, the results suggest that real-time measures of subjective presence might be a valuable tool for measuring audience experience for different types of (i) display and (ii) audiovisual material.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-425
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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